Preparing for Success: Pre-Surgical Physiotherapy Exercises and Guidelines

March 20th, 2024
Female Therapist Assisting Male Patient While Stretching His Leg In Hospital

What you can expect from a dedicated pre-surgical physiotherapy program

Most people understand that they’ll need to spend time rehabilitating after surgery. They know that rehabilitation is crucial to restoring mobility and strength even after the surgical site has healed. But have you ever considered rehabilitation before surgery? Sometimes called “prehabilitation” or “prehab,” pre-surgical physiotherapy allows you to get a jumpstart on your recovery from surgery–before you ever step foot in a hospital!

In addition to our post-surgical rehabilitation programs, MEX Physio  can help you fully prepare for an upcoming surgery with several different preventative approaches, from assessing your strengths and impairments to providing exercises designed to maximize your body’s potential for recovery.

Curious to learn more about what to expect from pre-surgical rehabilitation? Keep reading! You can also schedule an appointment at our Ontario physiotherapy office, where our friendly staff can answer any questions.

Why is Pre-Surgical Physiotherapy So Important?

It’s no secret that surgery is hard on the human body. While some surgeries are more intensive than others, they all bring with them certain risks, such as anesthesia complications, bleeding or blood clots during the surgery, or infections afterward. And that’s not even addressing the lengthy rehabilitation times!

Prehab can help reduce some of these risks in a couple of ways. The first is that it can help improve your aerobic capacity, which research shows plays a role in surgical recovery: The better your cardiorespiratory fitness, the less time you’ll spend in the hospital recovering.

However, prehab can also help you get a head start on the longer, more difficult work of fully rehabilitating. Even if your surgery goes off without a hitch and you spend minimal time in the hospital, the affected body part will need significant time–usually several months to a year–before it’s a full capacity. But by spending the time before your surgery maximizing the strength and mobility of the affected body part, you give yourself a big advantage.

Finally, prehab can help lower anxiety about an upcoming surgical procedure. Our physiotherapists won’t just guide you through a set of exercises; they’ll help you understand your impairments so you have a clearer picture of what surgery can help address. It’ll also let you know what you can expect from rehabilitation afterward.

Common Orthopedic Surgeries–and the Prehab Exercises We Recommend

AtMEX Physio , we provide both pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation for several common orthopedic surgeries. Each surgery has different prehab considerations, and we always tailor our pre-surgical programs to the individual needs of the patient.

If you don’t already have a dedicated exercise program, one of the first things we’ll do is help you develop one in the months before your surgery. We’ll aim for a blend of aerobic exercise and resistance training to ensure your body is ready for the shock of surgery.

However, we’ll also show you specific exercises based on what sort of surgery you’ll be having. Here are a few of the more common surgeries and some of our recommended exercises:

  • Total Knee Replacements: This is a major surgery with long rehabilitation–some people take over a year to fully recover! We’ll work with you to improve the strength and flexibility of your knee joint and the surrounding muscles through simple exercises like thigh squeezes, straight leg raises, or lying kicks.
  • Rotator Cuff Repairs: This procedure repairs a torn ligament in your rotator cuff, a set of muscles surrounding your shoulder joint. We’ll show you some simple stretches, such as a doorway stretch or pendulum stretch, that will work on your shoulder’s mobility before surgery.
  • Discectomy: This type of back surgery involves removing a damaged vertebral disc. Pre-surgical exercises for any back surgery usually include strengthening your core muscles, which help support your spine. Sit-to-stands and isometric abdominal sets are two gentle core exercises we might recommend.
  • Carpal Tunnel Release: Compared to other surgeries on this list, carpal tunnel release is much less intense! However, it will still benefit from prehab exercises. We’ll show you simple stretches for your wrists and fingers and will work with you on grip strength.

Every surgery–and every patient–is different, and when it comes to pre-surgical rehabilitation, it’s vital that the program be tailored to your ability level and specific surgery. Studies show that prehab can improve your surgical outcomes when customized to the patient’s needs. The physiotherapists at MEX Physio will help you find the right program for you.

Also, most of these pre-surgical exercises will mirror your post-surgical exercises. So when the time comes for you being your rehabilitation after surgery, you won’t have to spend time learning the movements!

Other Pre-Surgical Considerations

While most of your pre-surgical physiotherapy will consist of a targeted exercise program, our physiotherapists can also help you prepare for surgery in other ways.

Some surgeries, such as total knee or hip replacements, may require using a mobility aid during your rehabilitation. We’ll help you get comfortable with the aid before surgery so you can focus on your rehabilitation rather than worrying about incorrectly using a walker or cane.

We can also help you prepare for the limitations you can expect in the weeks following surgery. For example, we can suggest how you might set up your home to minimize movement obstacles or ensure you can safely reach what you need. We can also give you a list of movement modifications so you can start practicing them now.

Scheduled for Surgery? Give Us a Call!

If you know you’ll be undergoing surgery, contactMEX Physio  to get started on a customized pre-surgical program. And when the time comes to head to the hospital, you’ll do so with confidence!


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