exercise for surgery

Prehab – How to exercise before surgery

Joint replacements are a big deal in Australia with almost 115,000 Australians  having their hip, knee or shoulder replaced in 2016. This number is only expected to grow as our population gets older and we continue to live longer. Most of us are familiar with the idea of rehabilitation after surgery, but have you heard about “prehabilitation?”. Let’s take a look at why exercise before surgery is also important for your recovery.

What is “Prehab”

Prehabilitation, or “prehab”, focuses on using tailored exercise (and other methods) before surgery to improve our outcomes after surgery. Most people are aware that they have to do rehabilitation after surgery, but doing “prehab” can help you to bounce back quicker!

The Role of Exercise Before Surgery

There is often a waiting period involved prior to any surgery, so it’s important to utilize this time well.  Prehab helps to develop healthier muscles and bones before a procedure. This will improve function, reduce stiffness, help you recover faster, and allow you return to daily life activities sooner. While the current evidence is small and still growing, we do know that prehab can play an important role in reducing the time needed for rehabilitation after surgery.

What Type of Exercise Should You Do?

The types of exercises in a prehab program really depend on what surgery an individual is going for and which part of the body it will affect. In general, it prehab program will generally be a combination of the following:

  • aerobic exercises (e.g. walking, cycling)
  • strength training
  • functional training (e.g. standing from a chair, reaching above the head)

An accredited exercise professional will assess your current condition and structure a program that is both safe and effective. The program will be designed specifically to get you in stronger and healthier place before surgery.

Tips Before You Start

Here are some things to consider when it comes to prehab:

  • Aim to start the program 6-8 weeks prior to surgery.
  • Start slowly if you are new to exercise to reduce risk of injury.
  • Talk to your GP if you haven’t exercised in a while.
  • Always get the advice of an accredited exercise professional.
  • Any movement is better than none at all!

If you want to learn more about “prehab” or have a surgery coming up, we recommend you chat to an Accredited Exercise Physiologist. To find one near you – click here.