Exercising Before and After a Joint Replacement
Understandably, it may be hard to be motivated to exercise leading up to joint replacement surgery. Your joints may be painful and it may be tempting to wait till you have a new one to get moving again. There are several compelling reasons that you should be exercising leading up to joint replacement surgery (with your Doctor’s blessing of course).
1) It may be a long wait. It will come as no surprise to many of you that the wait for surgery may be a lengthy one. To wait until after surgery to exercise could result in a significant decline in your level of fitness.
2) Keep your bones healthy for surgery. A new joint will have pieces that are anchored in some way to your own bones. It is much more difficult to do so if your bones are frail and unhealthy due to lack of healthy stress. Our bones require proper nutrition and exercise in order to be healthy to support a new joint.
3) Make your recovery easier. Your recovery will go more smoothly if you are healthy otherwise and used to moving your body. Mantaining a healthy weight will be easier on your existing and replaced joints. Having a good connection to your muscles and knowing what it feels like to move your body will help you understand the rehabilitation exercises making you more successful at them.
There are some special considerations to exercise following a joint replacement surgery. While not all of these considerations will need to be observed forever it is very important to follow them for the prescribed period to ensure the longevity of the joint.
1) Respect any movement, activity restrictions or weight bearing restrictions. After your surgery (and likely discussed beforehand in preparation as well) a Doctor or Physiotherapist will talk with you regarding any movements or activities you should avoid and for what length of time. It is very important to follow the directions given specifically to you and to communicate any restrictions to your Personal Trainer, if you work with one.
2) Perform unilateral exercises in addition to your functional fitness bilateral exercises. After surgery if your new joint is sore your unaffected limb may try to compensate for the affected side. This can lead to muscular imbalances. It is therefore important to work each side individual to ensure equal strength. Functionally speaking we usually don’t perform single sided activities for our lower body (which have the most commonly replaced joints) so it is important to continue working both sides together as well!
3) Keep exercising for your life! Each person may have different goals that would like to accomplish or physical requirement you need to meet. For instance, one person may have stairs in their home and another person may love gardening and want to continue to do so. It is important to communicate these things to the people overseeing and programming your rehabilitation exercises as it will help them choose activities that will best allow you to meet your lifestyle needs.
Once rehab has ended you may find yourself not completely back where you used to be or unsure of how to exercise moving forward. Working with one of our Personal Trainers is a great way to bridge the gap after joint replacement surgery or to help yourself prepare for it. Contact us today (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a free assesment if you or a loved one are waiting for or have had joint replacement surgery.