Exercising Before Joint Replacement Surgery?

Exercising before joint replacement surgery? 

Joint replacements are one of the best surgeries in terms of helping improve symptoms and functionality. I have seen people almost unable to move, get a hip replacement that enables them to start walking again and get back to the things they love. Our goal is to help patients have the best outcome possible. Addressing patients’ health and nutrition long before surgery is really what will help us receive the best outcomes possible. So let’s just jump right in and talk more about these vital parts of getting ready for surgery.

Exercise Made Easy

Exercising before surgery will help you feel better and help in your recovery after surgery. It will also help you stay at a healthy weight prior to surgery. Why is that important? Decreasing our overall weight decreases the weight and force placed on our joints by a factor of 4. Also, being too heavy can predispose to complications. Researchers have found that having a high BMI can significantly increase your risk of having complications. Usually surgeons want your BMI below 40, before they will do surgery, but having a BMI higher than the appropriate range still is not ideal. We should strive to be in the healthy range. 

One consideration that I’ve heard from patients about BMI and exercising is that it is too painful to exercise, and that the joint replacement surgery would help them lose weight. This is not always the case. A high percentage of patients that get a joint replacement don’t automatically start becoming healthier and more active after surgery. Losing weight in a healthy way before surgery and exercise will help you after significantly after surgery. So don’t wait, and do your best to start exercising!

How do you start? First off, it takes the right mindset. You must be fully engaged and committed. This means finding accountability partners, taking ownership of your health, and surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals. This is all easier said than done. We are currently working on building a community of individuals that you will be able to connect with so we can help each other meet our goals. 

Next, you can start off by doing exercises at home. If you can afford a gym membership and prioritize time for it, then great, but if you don’t, that is fine too. The next section describes some exercises you can do at home. Also, it’s good to remember that exercising your whole body can help no matter what surgery you are scheduled for. If you are scheduled for a knee replacement it can be helpful to work out your upper extremities too, and vice versa. 


  1. Stationary bikes. Depending on which joints are painful, bikes can be really helpful for knee range of motion, stretching and not putting too much impact on your joints. Depending on the type of bike you can even read or watch one of your favorite television shows!

  2. Walking. This is harder to do in the winter time depending on your location, but try to find some people to walk with, take pictures along the way. Bring your dog. It is okay to walk with arthritic joints. Placing stress on your bones with walking, running, or exercises using weights can help you maintain your bone density.

  3. Water exercises. Water aerobics can be helpful for arthritis because it takes the weight off your joints. It is a good way to exercise, but isn’t required if you have arthritis. The main point is that you choose a cardio method and stick with it! Be creative and find ways to make it fun! Join our facebook group: Optimizemysurgery to connect with others and get more ideas! 

Tried and True Arm Workouts:

  1. Sitting arm curls. While sitting down use 2-5lbs weights to start off. With your hands at your side bring your weights up to your chest and then back down to your sides without moving your shoulders. Remember to keep your back straight. Try to do at least 8 curls in each arm, then go on to the next exercise! You should feel this in your biceps the front of your upper arms.

  2. Tricep arm extenders. While lying down bring your hands on each side of your head by your ears. Then extend your arms without moving your shoulders. Focus on keeping your elbow in the same position and only moving your arms straight into extension. You can try doing just one arm at a time or both, whichever is easier for you. You should feel this in the back of your upper arm in your tricep muscles. Try to do at least 8 tricep extenders on each side. After you finish that, go back and arm curls again until you’ve done each of them twice. If it is too easy, just increase the amount of weight or number of repetitions. Your triceps and biceps are important because having good upper body strength will help you walk with a walker if you should need one after surgery. 

Straight-forward Leg Workouts:

  1. Lay on your side in bed, lift your leg off the bed vertically towards the ceiling creating a v-shape. Hold this position briefly and lower the leg back down and repeat! You should feel this in your glutes and hip area because you’re working out your hip abductors. These hip abductor muscles are very important in hip replacement surgeries. They help with stability of your hip joint and having strong abductors will help your recovery and with your gait after surgery.

  2. Knee extenders. For these you are seated in a chair. Keeping your knee in the same position extend your knee so for foot goes parallel to the floor. Getting your knee straight also helps you with your flexibility. You should feel this in the front of your thighs because it works your quadriceps. Shoot for at least 8 reps in each leg. This group of muscles are really important to help you feel stable with your knee replacement. Working on flexibility, especially after surgery will also help your knee become more functional. 

Let us know how these exercises go for you, and if you have any questions. Also, remember that exercise with cardio for heart health and building your strength is just half of the puzzle. Nutrition and diet are vitally important for your body before surgery and during recovery. You will likely not see improvement in weight with just exercise alone! Stay tuned for more articles about optimizing your nutrition before surgery!

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