We’ve all heard of rehab – but what about ‘prehab’?

By Elisa Withers, Co-founder of APPI Clinics, Physiotherapist, Pilates Instructor.

Prehab is all about preparing your body and mind before you have surgery. To reduce risks and improve your recovery, we aim to improve the health and function of both your injured joint and your body as a whole.

At APPI your Physiotherapy treatment experience is a comprehensive one – and sometimes we find the best place to start is with prehab.

How does prehab work?

Everyone’s so different, so it’s important to have an individual Physio assessment before developing and implementing an effective prehab programme. We’ll design this programme to prepare your body for surgery in the best way possible for you – as well as looking ahead to your post-surgery rehab.

Throughout the process we’ll then reassess your programme to make sure we’re progressing towards the best outcome for you.

  • Before surgery prehab helps you to:
    • maximise mobility in your injured joint
    • build strength in the muscles supporting that joint
    • train balance and control around your injured area and beyond
  • After surgery prehab prepares you for
    • swelling and scar tissue management
    • regaining maximal movement, muscle strength and balance
    • full recovery in as quick a time as you’re able to

What are the benefits?

There’s a growing body of research which has shown the clear benefits of prehab.

Swank et al.1 reported that short term (4-8 weeks) prehabilitation was effective for increasing strength and function for individuals with severe osteoarthritis (OA).

Reviews by Halloway et al.2 and Santa Mina et al.3 report that prehab rehabilitation may reduce length of stay and possibly provide post-operative physical benefits.

Is it right for me?

If you’re due to have any surgery then prehab is right for you. It’s especially right for you if you’re having:

    • back surgery
    • total hip and knee joint replacement surgery
    • ACL knee ligament repair surgery
    • shoulder surgery

We also recommend that athletes of all levels should include prehab into their training – helping to prevent injuries first of all, and then preparing the body if surgery is required.

Potential prehab treatment programmes

    • manual therapy for maximising the joint range
    • soft tissue mobilisation to keep the surrounding muscles as supple as possible
    • home exercises to maintain joint range and strengthen surrounding muscles
    • a supervised strength and conditioning programme
    • personalised pain management plan
    • acupuncture and/or dry needling for pain management
    • taping or strapping

Prehab at APPI

Please feel free to get in touch if we can help you or any of your family or friends with prehab. We have close links to leading Orthopaedic consultants, so we’ll remain in close contact with them about your progress – both before and after your surgery.

Rest assured the whole team will be supporting your recovery!


1 Swank AM, Kachelman JB, Bibeau W, et al. Prehabilitation before total knee arthroplasty increases strength and function in older adults with severe osteoarthritis. J Strength Cond Res. 2011;25(2):318-25. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e318202e431
2 Halloway S, Buchholz SW, Wilbur J, Schoeny ME. Prehabilitation interventions for older adults: an integrative review. West J Nurs Res. 2015;37(1):103-23. doi:10.1177/0193945914551006
3 Santa Mina D, Clarke H, Ritvo P, et al. Effect of total-body prehabilitation on postoperative outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Physiotherapy. 2014;100(3):196-207. doi:10.1016/j.physio.2013.08.008