During the time before and after a hip replacement, improving your overall health is important to increase your chances of successful outcome. Changes in your diet and performing safe exercises can lower the impact on your new joint and help you during your rehabilitation.
Shed A Few Pounds
Hip replacements are performed on people of varying sizes and being overweight can make the healing process more difficult. It is not uncommon to have put on a few extra pounds as your mobility decreased. You may also put on additional pounds after your surgery since your mobility will be further limited. The easiest and safest way to drop pounds before and after your surgery is to focus on a healthy diet that includes more lean protein and vegetables while reducing your carbohydrates.
You never want to participate in crash diets or use supplements to help you lose weight because they can cause complications during your surgery. The added protein in your diet can help you retain muscle mass and strength, which will be important during recovery. If you are over age 50, you are more vulnerable to decreases in muscle mass, especially if you have limited mobility. Also, make sure your diet includes adequate nutrients to maintain your bone density, since limited mobility can cause decreases in your bone mass.
Hop In The Pool
If you cannot swim, before you have surgery is good time to learn to swim or at least become acclimated to three or four feet of water. Check out your local community center for pool activities, such as swimming or water aerobics. Water activities are a low impact form of exercise, which is often less painful than walking.
Water aerobics will also give you the opportunity to build up strength in your other leg, arms and core, which you will depend on more after surgery. You will not be able to go back into the water for several weeks after surgery, because the surgical area cannot be exposed to water. Once the incision heals, pool activities can be used to improve movement in your new hip and decrease stiffness.
Buy An Exercise Pedal
An exercise pedal resembles the two pedals you see on a stationary bike, without the actual bike. This type of exercise equipment is a good investment to help you exercise your extremities, before and after your surgery, without having to stand up. Make sure you purchase a model with adjustable resistance to gain the most use from your equipment. You can place your exercise pedal on top of a table and use it to help increase your arm strength and flexibility.
Before you obtain clearance from your surgeon to exercise your artificial hip, just use your exercise pedal to keep your other leg from becoming stiff or weak while you are inactive. Ask your surgeon when you can begin exercising your artificial hip. Even if you can pedal with no resistance, small amounts of exercise can get you back into the habit of using your new hip joint and decrease pain before you put more weight on the joint.
Another benefit of the exercise pedal is to decrease your risk of blood clots in the weeks following surgery. A major risk for developing post-operative blood clots is the combination of major surgery and inactivity. The sooner your surgeon is able to clear you to walk around or do light activities, you will have less risk of developing blood clots.
You also want to focus on any strength building or resistance training exercises you can perform to improve your upper body. Since you will not be able to do as much with your leg in the weeks following surgery, you will need to place more of a burden on your upper body. Depending on your level of physical fitness you can use resistance bands to increase strength in your upper arms. Resistance bands can also help improve your grip strength.
Upper body strength and grip strength are important if you need to use assistive devices for walking or a wheelchair. Some assistive devices can easily fatigue your upper body until you become accustomed to them. If you can use dumbbells, develop a regimen of using your weights every other day to build strength and endurance.
When you are having a hip replacement, the actual surgery is just one part of the process. Maintaining a healthier weight and finding ways to incorporate exercise can make the rehabilitation after a hip replacement easier and lead to fewer complications.