Do you have hip or knee pain and are you waiting for surgery? Want to know how to make the most out of your wait time before your joint replacement?
In a previous blog, we discussed the benefits of exercise and weight loss to reduce the pain and loss of function experienced from arthritis. Today we’re going to talk about how you can make the most of your recovery after knee or hip replacement surgery and it begins before you even enter the operating room.
While many people think about going to see a physiotherapist to recover after knee or hip replacement surgery, many do not think of how they can make the most out of their – oftentimes – long wait time leading up to surgery. Let me tell you about something called prehabilitation. Where rehabilitation is the exercise and things you do to recover after surgery. Prehabilitation is the exercise and things you can do before surgery. It is proving to be very effective in speeding up recovery after surgery.
A review by Mina and colleagues found that people who exercised before surgery had better range of motion of their operated joint, were able to walk longer distances, were discharged earlier from hospital after surgery, had lower rates of complications and were more likely to go home rather than to a rehabilitation facility after surgery. On top of all this, people who exercised before surgery had less pain going into surgery. Exercising before surgery therefore has a two-fold benefit: it can reduce your pain in the weeks and months leading up to surgery and can get you back doing the things you love sooner after surgery.
Don’t get us wrong, rehabilitation is still a necessary part of recovery after surgery, however, these results show a huge benefit to exercising before surgery!
Some of you may ask: How much exercise do I have to do to experience these benefits? We say any amount of exercise is a good amount of exercise. Ideally, however, following the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) exercise guidelines is the best way to ensure you are in optimal condition for your upcoming surgery. For adults, the guidelines recommend 2.5 hours a week of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity with 2 or more days of specific strength training. For older adults the ACSM recommends including balance training into your workout routine.
Components of a good work out include:
- Adequate warm up: 5-10 minutes of brisk walking or cycling on an exercise bike is a good way to warm up those muscles.
- Aerobic activity:15-30 minutes of aerobic activity which could include brisk walking, cycling or swimming. We recommend cycling or swimming for those of you with hip or knee pain because these exercises put less weight on those joints.
- Strength training: 15 minutes of strength training. If you’re unsure of what exercises you can do to strengthen your legs see the videos below for some example exercises.
- Adequate cool down: a work out should always be ended with 5-10 minutes of a cool down period. This could include another brisk walk or time on an exercise bike paired with stretching.
Whether your surgery is 1 month or 6 months away, it’s never too late to start working those hips or knees. Now’s the time! Motion is lotion and your hips and knees will thank you.