10 PreHab Exercises to Prepare You For Joint Replacement Surgery

Exercising key muscles around your hip and knee shouldn’t be reserved for joint replacement rehabilitation. By performing a few daily exercises leading up to your replacement, you can prepare your body for the procedure, boost your overall health, and speed up recovery. Taking action through exercise is a large part of PreHab and gives your body a head start on recovery. After all, who wouldn’t want to cut down risk and be their best self going into an elective surgery?

Spending just 20-30 minutes a day on highly-targeted exercises in the 2-8 weeks leading up to surgery will:

  • Speed up your overall recovery and healing
  • Strengthen the muscles that will support your new joint
  • Reduce fatigue and muscle soreness
  • Improve your circulation
  • Possibly reduce swelling and your risk of blood clots

10 Must-Do Pre-Hab Exercises Before Knee or Hip Replacement Surgery

Before your surgery, it’s likely that you'll be in pain with decreased mobility. For these reasons, the PreHab exercises we recommend are designed to be low-impact. Each of the following exercise are beneficial to both knee replacement and hip replacement patients preparing their body for a new joint. These exercises will not only get you ready for the procedure but will actually make recovery easier and faster.

We recommend spending 10-15 minutes twice a day running through the following exercises.

Note: For a more seamless routine, complete these exercises in order. Do not hold your breath during the exercises and do not continue if your pain level exceeds uncomfortable.

1. Ankle Pumps

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Ankle pumps help to better circulation and blood flow, both of which promote incision healing and prevent blood from pooling.

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Gently flex your foot up and then point down. You can move just your surgical side or move both ankles at the same time.

Repeat 10x, 2x Daily

2. Quad Sets

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Quad sets help to improve circulation and blood flow, while strengthening the front of your leg. This exercise will also speed healing and help to make your recovery faster and better.

  1. Lie on your back in bed with your legs straight.
  2. Push your knee down into the bed, tightening your thigh muscle.

Repeat 10x, 2x Daily

3. Gluteal Sets

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This exercise is a simple one that really only involves squeezing your butt. Basically, to do a glute set correctly, you just need to clench or squeeze as hard as you can. This squeezing and releasing keeps the blood moving, strengthens your hips and will help stabilize movement post-surgery.

  1. Lie on your back in bed with your legs straight.
  2. Squeeze or tighten the buttocks muscles, then release.

Repeat 10x, 2x Daily

4. Heel Slides

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This is a range of motion exercise that strengthens the muscles on the top of thigh and builds knee flexion. It’s an easy exercise, alike to a controlled bending of one knee while laying.

  1. Lie on your back in bed (or on a floor mat) with your legs straight.
  2. Keeping your non-surgical leg flat, bend your surgical knee by sliding your heel toward your buttocks.

Repeat 10x, 2x Daily

5. Sitting Knee Flexion (Knee Bending)

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Like the heel slide, this exercise is used to increase knee flexion. This exercise also strengthens quads to help enhance mobility.

  1. Sit on a chair with a towel rolled under your surgical leg.
  2. Keep both feet flat on the floor.
  3. Slide one foot back behind the stationary foot, bending your surgical knee.
  4. Hold for a few seconds, then slide your foot forward.

Repeat 10x, 2x Daily

6. Short Arc Quads (Lying Kicks)

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This one ups the strength and endurance of your quadricep muscle, giving you greater control over movement. The aim of this exercise is to straighten your surgical leg while it's supported and propped by a rolled towel.

  1. Lie on the ground on your back with a towel rolled under your knee.
  2. Slowly straighten your surgical knee by lifting your foot up while keeping your thigh on the rolled towel.

Repeat 10x, 2x Daily

7. Standing Hip Abduction

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This exercise targets the hips, but is a great strengthening exercise for knee replacement candidates as well. Building thigh strength and improving hip mobility, the standing hip abduction also enhances balance and core stability. You can perform this exercise with a walker or railing for added safety and support.

  1. While standing, raise (or fan) your leg out to the side.
  2. Keep your leg straight and keep your toes pointed forward the entire time. If needed, use a walker or railing for balance.

Repeat 10x, 2x Daily

8. Long Arc Quads (Seated Knee Extension)

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This exercise is one that you’re probably doing regularly to cut down on stiffness throughout the day. Integrating a few more of these seated knee extensions into your routine will help strengthen the quad muscles at the front of your thigh.

  1. Sitting in a chair, straighten your surgical leg and bend them back down.

Repeat 10x, 2x Daily

9. Standing Hip Extension

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This one targets your hips and is great for flexibility, strength and bettering balance which will help to get you active faster.

  1. While standing, move your leg back.
  2. Use the back of a chair or a railing for balance and safety.

Repeat 10x, 2x Daily

10. Single Leg Stance

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On paper this exercise seems simple but placing all of your body weight on one leg can prove to be a bit of a challenge. This exercise will help with your balance and will increase range of motion. If you’re worried about placing all of your weight on one leg, use a walker or handrail for extra support.

  1. Stand on one leg and maintain your balance.

Repeat 10x, 2x Daily


The more you focus on building up strength in the muscles around your knee or hip prior to surgery, the greater the speed and quality of your recovery. In other words, with PreHab, what you put into improving your health and preparedness before surgery, you will get back tenfold in recovery.

For more customized exercises, sign-up for PeerWell's PreHab program and begin daily lessons today. PeerWell PreHab covers everything from physical exercise, nutrition adjustment, pain management, and more.

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Hi, I'm Grace. I write all things surgery for the PeerWell blog. You may remember me from such titles as: "Diabetes & Joint Replacement 101" & "Sex After a Joint Replacement".

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