5 Reasons to Try of Group Classes for Post-Op Hip and Knee Replacements

5 Reasons to Try of Group Classes for Post-Op Hip and Knee Replacements

After careful deliberation, you’ve made the decision to get hip or knee replacement surgery. For many people, these surgeries are a significant step towards moving better and living a pain-free life. 

But the road to a full recovery after surgery can be demanding.  It requires time, dedication and expert guidance. At River East Physiotherapy, we’ve designed group classes for people with hip and knee replacements – to prepare for surgery (“pre-operative”), and to recover from surgery (“post-operative”).  Our classes are designed to get you to your goals.  Our classes:

  • help you do your exercises correctly, 
  • help with motivation and confidence, 
  • are less expensive than one-to-one physiotherapy sessions, 
  • Are subsidized by the Manitoba government (read more about that here), and
  • Are fun!

In this blog post, we dig deeper into the benefits of participating in group classes and how they can lead to a successful rehabilitation journey for people with hip and knee replacements.

Why are group classes important?

  1. Peer Support and Motivation:

The time after surgery (the post-operative phase) can be challenging, both physically and emotionally. Group classes are social – they allow patients to share experiences with others who have undergone similar surgeries.  We notice this tends to create a sense of camaraderie. This peer support provides valuable motivation and encouragement, keeping you on your path to recovery.

  1. Expert Supervision:

Group classes are led by physiotherapists.  Physiotherapists are movement experts, and have spent a minimum of six years studying and practicing medical rehabilitation in universities, hospitals and community clinics. Having trained and studied with physicians, they know how to prepare patients for joint replacement and how to rehabilitate them post-operatively.  

Physiotherapists are skilled at tailoring exercises and activities to the unique needs and limitations of each participant, ensuring recovery is safe and effective.

  1. Holistic Approach to Recovery:

At our clinic, all patients first need at least one-on-one session with a physiotherapist, to make sure group classes are part of a customized rehabilitation plan. Your plan will likely include exercises to rebuild muscle strength, improve flexibility, make your joints move more smoothly, and get your whole body moving better. A great rehabilitation plan is designed to prevent future pain and injury, and keep you as independent as possible in the long run.

  1. Increased Accountability:

Being part of a group fosters a sense of accountability among participants. That means you’re less likely to give up!  We find patients are more likely to attend sessions regularly and stay committed to their recovery when they are part of a supportive community that shares similar goals.

  1. Economical Solution:

Group classes for post-op hip and knee replacements are cost-effective.  By sharing the resources and expertise of physiotherapists among multiple participants, the overall cost of rehabilitation is reduced.  That makes group classes more accessible to patients, especially those who don’t have private insurance coverage for physiotherapy.  

Also, the Government of Manitoba now provides funding for physiotherapy for post-op hip and knee replacements.  Read more here about how our clinic can get this funding for you.

Post-Op Hip Replacements: What Exactly Do We Do in Group Classes?

For patients recovering from hip replacement surgery, group classes can speed up the rehabilitation process. Here are some things we do in classes:

  1. Strengthen Hip Muscles:

Group classes always have exercises that target the muscles surrounding the hip joint (and that’s true for knee replacements too!  Read more on knees below). These muscles support the new hip joint.  So if they’re stronger, your risk of complications goes down – both pre-op and post-op.  Hip muscles are also critical for having a stable hip (think: walking confidently) and increasing how far your hip can bend – in all directions. 

  1. Gait Training:

“Gait” refers to walking and running.  Your physiotherapist will always pay attention to your gait, and we’re highly skilled at helping you improve it.  

After hip replacement surgery, learning how to walk better is crucial for a successful recovery. This is especially important if you were limping before your surgery – it’s very common for people to have a difficult time getting rid of their limp if they were used to walking like that.  It’s also important if you’re getting ready for surgery – we want you walking as best as possible pre-op too.

Group classes often include gait training sessions that teach patients proper walking techniques, working towards a smooth and confident stride.

  1. Pain Management:

Post-operative hip pain can be managed with targeted exercises and pain relief strategies. In group classes and in one-on-one sessions with their physiotherapist, participants learn techniques to alleviate pain.  With less pain, you can do more challenging exercises during your recovery period.

Post-Op Knee Replacements: What we do in Group Classes

For individuals preparing for or recovering from knee replacement surgery, group classes are often similar to what we do for hip replacements.  That’s because knee stability and movement is closely related to hip stability and movement – the joints are closely connected.  

For instance, regardless of whether you’ve had your hip or knee replaced, we’ll almost always recommend you work on:

  • Your gait, aka how you walk, 
  • Hip strength and stability,
  • Pain relief, and
  • Functional movements, aka what movements you really care about doing day-to-day.  

For people with knee replacements, in classes you’ll also likely work on:

  1. Range of Motion Exercises:

Group classes incorporate exercises that focus on getting the knee bending like it used to (your physio might call this “restoring the knee’s range of motion”). These knee bending and straightening activities increase flexibility, reduce pain, and get your knee bending more smoothly.  

  1. Balance and Stability Training:

Knee replacement surgery can temporarily affect balance and stability. That’s because the many of balance sensors in your body are located in your joints, and they need to recover too.  

Group classes include exercises that challenge and enhance your balance.  And with better balance, the chances of you falling go down significantly.  Plus, if your knee is stable and your balance is good, you’ll be able to return to your daily activities more quickly.

  1. Knee-Specific Pain Relief Techniques:

Managing post-operative knee pain is essential for a smooth recovery process. In group classes, participants learn pain relief techniques, enabling them to cope with discomfort more effectively.  

For knee replacements, pain relief can come from safely moving the joint, such as on a stationary bike, or gentle heel slides on a bed.  Pain can also be reduced with ice, heat, and even education – just knowing what’s okay to do and what’s not okay can actually reduce your pain. 

The Crucial Role of Physiotherapists in Post-Op Hip and Knee Replacements

Physiotherapists are uniquely positioned to get you moving again, safely, after hip and knee replacements.  We’re also the best professionals to prepare you for surgery (“pre-habilitation”) or to help you try to prevent surgery in the first place.  

Not sure what to expect when you start physiotherapy?  Every patient/client’s treatment is unique, but this blog post summarizes what generally happens in a course of physiotherapy treatment.

  1. Comprehensive Assessment

After surgery, the role of a physiotherapist is to do a thorough assessment of the patient’s condition. This helps us understand the challenges and limitations that may have arisen from your surgery. 

For post-op hip replacements, the physiotherapist will look at how far you can bend your hip (your “range of motion”), how strong your hip muscles are, and how well you are walking (your “gait pattern”).  This is to help us understand what is helping you move, and what is restricting your movement.  

For knee replacements, your physiotherapist will focus on how much your knee can bend and straighten (knee “range of motion”), how strong the muscles are around your knee, and how stable your knee is (“joint stability”). 

The main purpose of this assessment is to design an individualized treatment plan tailored to your unique needs.

  1. Personalized Treatment Plan

Based on the assessment, physiotherapists create a personalized treatment plan for each patient. This plan is tailored to you and you only, ensuring the exercises and interventions are both safe and effective. The treatment plan will usually include a combination of exercises, manual therapy, and pain management techniques, to get you to your goal.

  1. Pain Management

Post-op pain is common after hip and knee replacements. While your doctor or surgeon may have prescribed you medication for the pain, the physiotherapist’s role is to complement that with drug-free pain relief techniques.  This could include prescribing certain types of movements to reduce pain, ice, heat therapy, electrotherapy (such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, aka TENS), and therapeutic ultrasound.  

By managing their pain effectively, patients can focus on their exercises and rehabilitation without unnecessary discomfort and suffering.

  1. Range of Motion and Flexibility Exercises

Physiotherapists design exercises to improve how you move, and how far your joint can bend or straighten after surgery.  For post-op hip replacements, targeted exercises aim to increase hip flexibility and promote proper hip alignment. For knee replacements, exercises usually focus on knee bending and straightening.

  1. Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening exercises are crucial for rebuilding muscle strength around the replaced joint. Muscles surrounding the hip and knee support the hip and knee, and with more support, you tend to feel less pain.

As part of your treatment plan, physiotherapists design exercises that gradually challenge the muscles without straining the newly replaced joint. For post-op hip replacements, strengthening exercises may target the glutes, quadriceps, and hip abductors, while knee replacements may focus on the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles.

  1. Gait Training and Balance Improvement

Physiotherapists assist patients in relearning how to walk correctly after hip and knee replacements. “Gait” (walking and running) training is essential to promote a balanced, stable, and confident walking pattern. 

Patients may practice walking with assistance from crutches or walking aids initially, gradually transitioning to unaided walking as their strength and stability improve.  The large majority of post-op joint replacement patients focus on walking exclusively.  However, higher performing patients may choose to work on running, with the guidance of their physiotherapist and doctor.  

  1. Proprioception and Coordination Enhancement

Proprioception refers to knowing and sensing where your body part is without looking at it.  It’s closely related to how well you can balance.  Proprioception is frequently affected by surgery, since your proprioceptive sensors are located in your joints.

In your treatment plan, your physiotherapist will likely integrate exercises that focus on proprioception and coordination. 

These exercises are particularly vital for patients who may have experienced disruptions in their vestibular function after surgery. 

Improved proprioception aids in daily activities and reduces the risk of falls.

  1. Progress Monitoring and Adjustment

Throughout the rehabilitation journey, physiotherapists continuously monitor the patient’s progress. That means your treatment will always be progressing as time goes on, until you hit your goal.  

Your physiotherapist will regularly assess your mobility, strength, and overall improvement. This could happen quickly in group classes, or more extensive in your one-on-one treatment sessions with your physiotherapist.  

  1. Educating Patients on Home Exercise Programs

In addition to supervised sessions, physiotherapists educate patients on home exercise programs tailored to their condition. These exercises empower patients to take an active role in their recovery and ensure that they continue to make progress between their one-on-one physiotherapy sessions, and/or their group classes.

Physiotherapists play an indispensable role in the recovery process of individuals undergoing post-op hip and knee replacements. Their expertise in assessment, personalized treatment planning, pain management, and targeted exercises significantly contribute to patients’ overall rehabilitation journey. 

By guiding patients through walking training, balance training,, and proprioception exercises, physiotherapists empower people to regain their mobility, confidence, and independence. By monitoring and adjusting patients’ treatment plans, physiotherapists ensure patients receive the most appropriate care throughout their recovery. 

Ultimately, the compassionate and expert care provided by physiotherapists plays a vital role in helping post-op hip and knee replacement patients reclaim their lives and achieve their physical fitness goals.


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

After knee surgery, it’s essential to avoid high-impact exercises such as running, jumping, and intense sports that put significant strain on the knee joint. Additionally, activities that involve sudden changes in direction, like basketball or tennis, should be avoided. Prolonged periods of standing or walking on uneven surfaces should also be minimized to prevent excessive stress on the healing knee.

After hip surgery, it is crucial to avoid certain activities that could strain or damage the healing hip joint. High-impact exercises such as running, jumping, or heavy lifting should be avoided during the initial recovery period to prevent excessive stress on the hip. Plus, activities that involve twisting or rotating the hip joint should be limited to allow proper healing and avoid complications. Always follow your surgeon’s post-operative guidelines and gradually reintroduce activities as advised by your physiotherapist and surgeon.

After knee replacement, generally avoid high-impact and high-risk sports, such as football, soccer, skiing, and basketball. These activities can put undue strain on the artificial joint, increasing the risk of implant failure or injury. Opt for low-impact activities like swimming, cycling, and walking, which promote joint health and reduce stress on the new knee.

But again, since every patient, surgeon, and surgical approach is different, you should ask your physiotherapist or surgeon what YOU should avoid, and for how long.  

Avoid high-impact sports or activities that put significant stress on the hip joint. Such sports include running, jogging, basketball, soccer, football, and high-impact aerobics. Additionally, activities that involve sudden movements, jumping, or twisting should also be avoided.

Instead, low-impact exercises like swimming, cycling, and walking are generally recommended during the recovery period. 

That said, every patient, surgeon, and surgical approach is different, and restrictions on what you can do after surgery are changing all the time.  So ask your physiotherapist or surgeon what’s right for you.


It depends on your goals!  Your physiotherapist can help you from as early as day one.  For instance, when you come home from the hospital, most people can benefit from a physiotherapist helping them learn how to use their gait aid (walker, crutches, and/or cane), teaching them how to use stairs safely, and answering their questions on what’s okay to do and what’s not okay to do.

More generally, in the initial stages of recovery, we recommend physical therapy two to three times a week. As the recovery progresses and your strength and mobility improve, you may choose to come to physiotherapy once a week or less. However, people with more challenging goals, such as getting back to high performance sport or a physically demanding job, may need physiotherapy more frequently.

As for how long to continue to physiotherapy, it depends on whether you’ve achieved your goals.  Everyone’s goals for physiotherapy are unique.  For instance, if your goal is to walk normally again, two months of physiotherapy might be enough.  But if your goal is to get back to running, or get back to a roofing job, it may take you a year or so – until you no longer need the expert advice and motivation of your physiotherapist.

Patients typically undergo physical therapy 2 to 3 times a week following hip surgery. The frequency and duration of therapy may vary depending on the individual’s condition, their goals for physiotherapy, the surgical approach, and the custom recommendations of the surgeon, doctor, and physiotherapist. 

Regardless, consistency and adherence to the prescribed treatment plan are crucial for a successful recovery and regaining mobility. Always ask your physiotherapist about how frequently they recommend you come to physiotherapy – it can affect the likelihood you actually achieve your goals.

About Andrea Grant

As a Director of River East Physiotherapy and Sports Fitness Clinics, Andrea Grant oversees all programs and patient care.  She is a Registered Physiotherapist, and she also holds a Master of Science in Physical Therapy, a Master of Arts in Public Administration, and a Certified Management Consultant designation.  Ms. Grant draws on this unique blend of credentials in healthcare and management to ensure an excellent patient experience at River East Physiotherapy.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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