If you’re scheduled to undergo hip surgery, now is the perfect time to start doing Pilates. Even if it seems counterintuitive to put that joint into motion, doing so with the guidance of a skilled and experienced Pilates instructor will actually safely strengthen the muscles around the joint. This is only one of the many benefits of engaging in Pilates before hip surgery.
Pilates before surgery will also help strengthen the tissue surrounding the hip joint and maintain its range of motion. The exercises are gentle and there’s little to no impact, which means these exercises can be performed even where there’s deterioration of the femur in the hip. Additionally, Pilates helps to undo any compensation habits you may have formed. These are movements or adjustments you’ve developed in your body while attempting to avoid the pain in your hip joint.
“They’re normal,” says Ron Jegadeesh, Pilates instructor, physical therapist, and owner of Pilates Fitness & Physical Therapy Center in Southfield, “but they also throw your body out of alignment and further exacerbate your condition.”
Another consideration is the fact that some atrophy will occur after surgery, during your post-operative rest period. By strengthening the hip area prior to surgery, you’ll be starting the process from a stronger place than if you’d done no Pilates at all. Further-more, you’ll also improve your balance by strengthening your core, which will serve you well after surgery. Maintaining balance will be important once you start rehabbing that joint; you’ll be less likely to fall and you’ll feel more confident about returning to needed exercise. This is where Pilates after surgery comes into play.
Once you begin rehabbing your hip joint, logic would dictate that you’ll only be working the affected side — yet there’s an imbalance between the two sides of the body that has been exacerbated by the above-mentioned compensation habits you probably developed before surgery. Plus, when you get right down to it, even though there’s a clear imbalance around the hip joint and the point of incision, the entire body experiences the consequences of surgery. For example, the brain has to recover from the effects of the anesthesia, and the body’s immune system is weakened. All of these factors make Pilates uniquely qualified for rehabbing after hip surgery.
Pilates addresses the body as a whole. With the Pilates system, individual units work together in an organized scheme or method. In other words, while working to strengthen the area around the hip joint and increasing your range of motion, the rest of the body is targeted as an integrated system.
This is done with an emphasis on core strength and two-way stretching. During rehab from hip surgery, you’ll learn how to use the muscles of the core to support every movement of your body. Under an instructor’s watchful eye, you’ll perform these exercises with proper alignment to ensure that muscles lay down new fibers in a way that’s most beneficial to the joint. Pilates further helps to speed up recovery by ensuring that the area around the hip is lengthened, to avoid any issues with scar tissue.
The amount of time you need to recover before engaging in Pilates after surgery will depend on many factors. For some patients, particularly those who partake in preoperative Pilates, it could be as little as six weeks post-op. For others, it may be two to three months. You obviously want to obtain clearance from your surgeon first.
If available, find a center that offers both Pilates and physical therapy. Physical therapists in these environments are also trained in Pilates and use Pilates equipment and machines to further facilitate their patients’ recovery. After the initial physical thera-py sessions, patients can move effectively into Pilates with the guidance of their physical therapist. If such a place doesn’t exist near where you live, be sure to work with only highly trained Pilates instructors who are able to safely address your mobility both pre- and post-surgery.