Post-Operative Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation

Although many surgeries are common practice and present a relative low risk to your overall health, they still take quite a large toll on your body. What some may find shocking though, is that the “success” of your surgery doesn’t rely solely on what happens whilst you are in the operating theatre. Your surgeon will have performed a successful surgical procedure, but that is only the first step towards successful rehabilitation!

Our expert team of physiotherapists, podiatrists and remedial massage therapists in Adelaide will guide your post operative rehabilitation and provide individually tailored hands-on treatment along with an exercise program to get you back to doing the things you love again!

At Physio Fit, we work with many surgeons and medical teams from all over Adelaide. We are trained to help you in the post-operative rehabilitation for a number of surgeries including:

Spinal Surgery

Shoulder Surgery

Elbow, Wrist & Hand

Hip Surgery

Knee Surgery

Calf, Ankle & Foot

Why is physiotherapy and rehabilitation needed after surgery?

After surgery, it is important to begin the rehabilitation process as soon as possible to ensure that your recovery is healthy and optimised. Your surgeon may have operated on a specific part of your body, but rehabilitation is required for all of the surrounding areas as well in order to get you back to your best!

Following any operation, your muscles will be weaker, swelling and scar tissue will develop and you will have a reduction in your range of motion. The aim is to restore each of these back to normal and fast as possible. This along with your ability to return to work, sport and life after surgery is heavily influenced by participating in rehabilitation. There is substantial research to show that those who do not complete the majority of their rehabilitation program set out by a physiotherapist will experience more pain and suffer from more limitations than those who do. Furthermore, rehabilitation with a physiotherapist has been shown to reduce the rate of post-operative complications as well.

Additional benefits of post-operative rehabilitation are the positive emotional and psychological effects exercise has on the body. When we exercise, our body releases endorphins that help improve our overall well-being and mood. Along with this, we are able to manage our pain more effectively, also decreasing our reliance on using any opioids (pain medications) during our recovery.

Is Physiotherapy important before surgery?

Did you know that what you do before surgery is just as important as afterwards? Before your operation, our team can assist in preparing you and your body through tailored exercise programs we call pre-habilitation.

This allows you to increase your muscle strength and joint range of motion before your surgery as we know the better you are going in, the better you are coming out. Completing a pre-habilitation program not only allows for greater success from your operation, but also speeds up your recovery significantly after surgery as well!

Can I just rest after surgery?

After surgery, joints are stiff and muscles are weak. It may seem like a good idea to rest and allow your body time to heal and recover, however that is not how the body works.

If a joint is stiff, resting and avoiding movement will only promote it to become more stiff over time. The longer joints are stiff, the harder it is to regain our mobility. Similarly with muscles, if they are weak following surgery, resting will only weaken them further. Inactivity or “rest” as we like to call it, is one of the biggest risk factors to not successfully recovering from surgery.
Do many operations come with modifications or restrictions in the early days depending on what you have had done? Yes.

Does that mean you need to rest completely? No.

The old saying rings true, “Use it or lose it”.

Can I just do the activity I want to return to as my rehabilitation following surgery?

Yes and no. Practicing the specific movements and activities that you are required to do on a day to day basis is an incredibly important part of your post-operative rehabilitation. First though, we must work our way up to that point.

If you are returning to a workplace that requires you to bend, twist and lift, then we must work to build up the muscles around your arms, shoulders, spine and legs. This is in order for you to cope with the amount of work and load you will be putting your body through once you return. Before this point, we may work on each of these areas in isolation. Eg. An upper body program, a spinal/core program and a lower body program. We may practice bending and twisting. We may even start with a general fitness program if that may also be a factor within your line of work.

Once we have worked on these areas in isolation and have built up some base strength and fitness, we can begin to combine movements and attempt to mimic the duties you will return to. The final step following this, is to then add the appropriate weight, repetition and working environment in order to make the best possible return to pre-operative function.

What to expect from physiotherapy after surgery?

Best practice is that physiotherapy is to begin immediately after surgery. For surgeries which require you to stay in hospital for a few days (such as total knee replacement and total hip replacement surgery), you will have a physiotherapist visit you and guide you through the first few days. This normally involves the basics in order to allow you to leave hospital and return home. This includes walking with or without any aids, getting in and out of bed, getting in and out of a chair and showering.

Once you have returned home, it is then our job to help you return to full function and achieve any goals you have set yourself. Our role is to challenge you and your body in a safe and controlled environment. This helps you progress from simple stretches, movements and walking to more advanced strengthening exercises and the activities you could do (or couldn’t even do) prior to surgery.

How to pick which physiotherapy clinic is right for me following surgery?

Finding the right clinic and right team to help you is just as important as the rehabilitation you do.

At Physio Fit, we ensure that we give our clients a clear plan of what they need to do with us, at home and along the road ahead to successfully achieve their goals. We allow more time at our clinic than the industry standard, including 60 minute initial consults because we know that getting this process right takes time.

We have discussed at lengths the importance of rehabilitation in your recovery from surgery, and at Physio Fit, we are proud to have the latest technology and equipment as part of our rehabilitation gym. Clients can often feel lost at times or feel a lack of communication regarding the state of their recovery. It may feel as though they are just a number coming in and out each week. We therefore use our equipment to also track your strength, mobility and function to create reports that help to educate you and allow you to see how you are progressing.

Need help before or after surgery? Book an appointment below with our expert team!


We are open! We have escalated our already stringent hygiene routines and are still here to support you. Whilst social distancing is important your pain and comfort is also our priority, which is why the Australia Government considers allied health an ‘essential’ service.


It is important that we help support the load of our amazing local GP’s during these testing times.


Should you be forced to self-isolate, or are in a high risk category, please call to discuss a video consultation - 

08 7226 9901 or visit Online Physiotherapy


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