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Hip & Knee Replacements: Pre-op Exercises

It is important to begin to exercise as soon as you know you are having surgery. Exercising will help to strengthen your arm, thigh, and hip muscles to help you recover more quickly after surgery. Cardiovascular conditioning (steady exercise for 10-20 minutes) will greatly help, too.

Goals & Cautions

Start slowly and if exercise causes pain, fatigue or shortness of breath, slow down or stop, and your surgeon’s office if you're concerned. Increase time or repetitions as your endurance and condition will allow. Work up to a 20-minute program. You should be able to carry on a conversation while exercising, but feel as though you are working fairly hard.

General (Cardiovascular) Activities

  • Walk, walk, walk!
  • Swim laps, walk or perform exercises in a (preferable warm) pool.
  • Bike. If balance or the weather is challenging for you, use a stationary bike.

Specific Exercises

For all exercises, generally start with 10 repetitions and work up to 30 as you are able.




Ankle Pumps: Point and flex your ankles.    


Chair Push Ups: Put your hands on the arms of the chair and push down in order to lift your body up.



Gluteal sets: Sitting or lying in bed, squeeze your buttocks together without using your thigh muscles. Hold for 5 seconds.



Heel slides: Lie down on your bed with your legs straight out.
Keeping your feet on the bed, slide the heel of your surgical leg toward your buttock, bending your knee.





Hip abduction/adduction: Lie down on your back with your legs straight out. 
Slide your heel out to the side and back in (without lifting leg off bed).




Long Arc Quads: While sitting in a chair, slowly raise your foot
until your knee is completely straight. Hold for 5 seconds.



Mini-squats: Stand in front of a countertop or other sturdy surface you can hold on to for balance and support.
Very carefully, slightly bend your knees like you are going to squat down. Do not go down too far; stop if it becomes painful.
Do not let your knees go past your toes. Hold 5 seconds, stand, repeat.


Quad sets: Lie down on your back with your surgical leg straight out.
Push the back of your knee into the bed, tightening up the top of your thigh. Hold for 5 seconds.


Seated Hamstring Stretch:
Sit on firm couch or bed with one leg extended, other leg on floor.
Keeping your back slightly arched, gently lean forward.
You should feel a gentle pull in the back of your thigh. Hold for 20 seconds, relax, repeat.
Perform 1 set of 4 repetitions, twice a day.


Short Arc Quads: Lie in your bed with a small pillow/roll under both knees.
Gently lift your heel off of the bed, straightening your knee.
Do NOT raise thigh off of the pillow. Hold for 5 seconds.


Straight Leg Raises: Lie down on your back with your good knee bent and foot flat on the ground.
Lift the other leg up while keeping the knee straight.
Raise your leg no higher than the height of the other leg’s knee.