What is “PRE-hab”? How a Physio can help!

Seniors riding bikes in park showing Oakville Physio

If you are preparing for surgery (shoulder, knee, hip being the most common), should you still go to physiotherapy?

The answer is a resounding YES!

Patients are often told to undergo post-operative (“post-op”) rehab, i.e. physiotherapy, to regain range of motion, strength, function. However, a lesser known fact is that pre-operative (pre-op) rehab AKA Prehab is also beneficial!

Though not often discussed with patients before they undergo surgery, pre-op rehab has been shown to improve your recovery rate post-op! While studies done to evaluate the benefits of prehab disagree on certain benefits (sometimes due to the low quality of the studies themselves), prehab can:

  • Reduce risk of post-op complications
  • Reduce hospital length of stay
  • Reduce loss of muscle mass post-op

Oakville Nordic Pole walking Physio

Prior to surgery, the affected body part is often painful, inflamed, and weakened. Prehab aims to:
  • Reduce pain and inflammation
  • Improve local mobility and strength
  • Increase overall fitness and conditioning
  • Provide tools / strategies for work and home (e.g. assistive devices, self-management methods)

When you are discharged from the hospital, you will be in an overall better state of health to return to function, work, and daily activities!

It’s a Win : Win !

Undergoing prehab can be beneficial to your quality of life during the waiting period before the surgery. Otherwise, during that waiting period our bodies become gradually more and more deconditioned. Th can impact how quickly we can recover after surgery more negatively.

Common surgeries that can benefit from Prehab:

  • Rotator cuff repair
  • Hip replacement
  • Knee replacement
  • Knee arthroscopy
  • ACL / meniscus repair
  • Ankle and foot surgeries
  • Cardiac and abdominal surgeries


Oakville Physiotherapy clinic, providing seniors rehabilitation

If unsure and have questions, talk to your Doctor or Physiotherapist!


Coudeyre, E., et al. (2007). Could preoperative rehabilitation modify postoperative outcomes after total hip and knee arthroplasty? Elaboration of French clinical practice guidelines. Annales de Réadaptation et de Médecine Physique, 50(3), 189-197.

Crowe, J. and J. Henderson (2003). Pre-Arthroplasty Rehabilitation is Effective in Reducing Hospital Stay. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 70(2), 88-96.

Gazielly D.F., et al. (1995). Functional and anatomical results after surgical treatment of ruptures of the rotator cuff. 1: Preoperative functional and anatomical evaluation of ruptures of the rotator cuff.

Revue de Chirurgie Orthopedique et Reparatrice de L’appareil Moteur, 81(1), 8-16.

Valkenet, K., et al. (2010). The effects of preoperative exercise therapy on postoperative outcome: a systematic review. Clinical Rehabilitation. 25(2), 99-111.