What can patients who face a long time on the Orthopaedic waiting lists do to maintain strength before their surgery?

In some of my previous blogs I have explored the benefits of prehab sessions before taking part in an endurance event’s such as the marathon or before beginning a new health kick.

However, the benefits of pre-habilitation exercises also extend into the large population of people who are awaiting orthopaedic surgery or intervention of some kind. If you are awaiting orthopaedic surgery it is of the upmost importance that your preparation for your upcoming surgery begins immediately.

For an acute injury like an Anterior Cruciate Ligament Rupture or a meniscal tear our focus needs to be on reducing inflammation and regaining a pain free range of movement. After the inflammation has reduced and the movement is improved, the strengthening then begins.

It’s often beneficial to begin with some of the exercises that will be prescribed after the surgery so the exercise regime is not a new program post-surgery. Your Physiotherapist will then take you through a generic strengthening programme which will develop a muscular balance in both your effected and non-effected limb.

The importance of strengthening the non-effected limb cannot be overestimated as it is often the side that takes most load initially after the intervention. Complex combined movements are often difficult to achieve whilst awaiting surgery as the rotational movements whilst weight bearing can increase inflammation and swelling in compromised weight bearing joints.

The importance of proprioception

Reformer Pilates offers an ideal opportunity to perform complex function movements with reduced ground reaction force and improved proprioceptive feedback. The importance of proprioception has also been investigated in my previous blogs, however, its importance is magnified tenfold for post-surgical patients as ligament reconstruction or knee replacements are void of any proprioceptive factors, thus proprioceptive training is essential pre-and post-surgery to reduce recovery time and improve the post-surgical outcome.

If you simply have a degenerative issue such as osteoarthritis that does not have an acute stage of injury the importance of prehab is even greater. Degenerative changes are very common and often occur in both the active and sedentary population in various stages of life. Recreational athletes who have been pounding the roads for many years often tend to develop Osteoarthritis in weight bearing joints such as the knee or hip a little sooner.

It’s not all bad news however, as this population also tend to recover much quicker and more successfully. Why is this you may ask? Well this population is much fitter and stronger going into the surgery and therefore respond better to the necessary rehabilitation. Therefore, if you are one of this active population that has been unfortunate enough to develop earlier onset OA you are going to be very keen to return to activity as quickly as possible after the surgery.

Invest in your recovery before and after surgery with Reformer Pilates and you may in fact improve even quicker.

But why not just prevent earlier onset of OA by being less active? Well this is certainly a myth. Unfortunately, arthritic / degenerative changes are something that will occur in our lives weather we are active or sedentary. Research has proven that physical activity actually helps reduce the severity of the symptoms associated with degenerative changes. One of the many down sides to a sedentary life and the onset of Osteoarthritis later in life is our recovery is often much more difficult as our conditioning is much poorer.

Be active & get moving

Therefore, returning to general everyday tasks such as standing on the Luas or walking to the shops can be very difficult after your surgery if you have a poor level of conditioning beforehand. So, the key take home message is “be active & get moving”.

Recent research Conducted by the American College of sports medicine emphasizes the importance of getting moving as we get a little older as they suggest that after 50 years of age our Muscle mass declines at an average rate of 15% per decade. Come and try one of our Reformer classes pre-surgery to help improve your strength, Range of Movement and co-ordination.

If you are less active get moving to prevent complications with your rehabilitation following your surgical intervention. Reformer Pilates will not only improve your outcome post-surgery it will also improve your fitness and general health and wellbeing.

So, what are you waiting for? Get involved and book a 1:1 physiotherapy appointment with our specialist chartered Physiotherapist. Our Physio will then design an appropriate pre-surgical exercise program and refer you to one of our amazing Pilates instructors to allow you take back control of your injury before surgery.