Prehab: Rehabilitation Prior to Surgery

Lynda Huey Uncategorized

Let’s say your hip has been bothering you for over six months and now you realize you need to get serious about interviewing some doctors and making a choice as to whose opinion and suggestion you wish to follow.  If you are still active in sports and recreational activities, you’ll probably want to save as much of your hip as possible and search out doctors who perform hip arthroscopy and femoral head resurfacing.  You may be a candidate for these newer surgeries and you may not.  To learn more about these two new surgeries as well as femoral acetabular impingement (FAI), go to  Whatever you learn, whoever you choose to do your surgery, you’ll want to get in shape for surgery.

I once worked with a three-time Olympic track athlete who told me, “I trained as hard for that surgery as I did for the Games.”  And she meant it.  She worked out two to four hours every day, just as she had when getting ready for Olympic competition.  She knew that undergoing surgery would mean a loss of fitness and strength not only because of the pre-meditated trauma to the body but also because she would be unable to train at her usual level for many weeks following the surgery.  So she got to work reaching her peak fitness level prior to surgery since she knew a negative slump was certain to follow.

Many patients routinely participate in prehab programs to better help their bodies cope with the stresses of surgery.  You, too, can benefit from such a plan.  The fitter you enter the operating room, the quicker you’ll return to your sports and daily activities.

If your hip pain is accompanied by dysfunction and limited range of motion, you’ll want to do your prehab in a pool.  Here’s why:  by taking the weight off your hip, you can run, powerwalk, and do other high-intensity moves in deep water.  That means you can keep your cardiovascular fitness even if you’ve had to give up running, hiking, and biking on land.  Your hip will move more freely in the buoyancy of water.  And the water’s resistance provides you with a chance to strengthen the muscles surrounding your hip through all planes of motion.

See Hip Circles below, a great exercise for regaining mobility and strength in your hip.  You may perform a much small circle, depending on your hip, and if you have lower back pain, don’t reach so far to the rear.

Aquatic Therapy



Lynda Huey, M.S., founder of CompletePT and Huey’s Athletic Network, is a former athlete and coach whose own injuries led her into the water to find fitness and healing. She was educated at San Jose State University where she starred on the track and field team during its golden years.