Tips for Better Recovery from Hip and Knee Surgery

Kathryn Rollins, Guest Blogger

According to  a recent article in CNN.com, there are some ways to recover faster after hip and knee replacement surgery  including getting into physical therapy quickly and doing strength training in preparation.  Guest blogger Kathryn Rollins,  Registered Nurse, Gold Certified Pilates instructor with over ten years of experience in Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, & Lifestyle Design, offers some additional tips for those of us facing these very common surgeries.  

Here’s what Rollins has to say:

I like the proactive approach of this article but think a couple of important steps are missing.  And unfortunately, the way I’m going to start making my point is to have you picture stepping on a nail… barefoot.

Ouch!  Sorry about that.  Now, picture yourself walking.  You’re trying to avoid placing weight directly on the punctured area, right?  And temporarily you’ll walk in a different way until your foot is healed and everything is back to normal.  Now picture having a hip or knee that hurts daily for months, even years?  That different walk would not be so temporary and the muscular and physical changes that it takes to walk in that way are no longer overnight guests.  They’ve moved in and are here to stay.  So after a successful surgery, proper recovery and rehabilitation, what happens?  New knee, hip… old walk.  My Uncle was a great example.  After years of a degenerating hip, in order to walk he’d lock his knee and sort of hobble.  Guess how he walked after his hip replacement??  Yup… same way.  The bottom line is that the degenerating portion is just part of what has become a bigger issue.  So, to completely recover I’d recommend these additional steps. 

1. Find a reputable, Massage Therapist or Chiropractor and have him/her loosen, open up and get energy into your entire body. (Do this before surgery too). 

2. Work with someone who can help you learn to reeducate your muscles so you will begin to move in a more balanced and full bodied way.  Someone trained in Physical Therapy, Feldenkrais, the Alexander Technique, Physical Rehabilitation, Pilates…  The list is a long one.  Always, check qualifications and reputations.

3. Watch your technique.  Practice moving slowly and correctly.  When you take a step make sure you land on your heel and roll through your foot and push off with your toes.  Bend your knees, and swing your arms when walking.  Watch your movements for awhile.

4. After you’ve done the above three steps it’s going to be time to really start moving freely again.  So, if you know of a Rosen Method Class in the area.  Try it.  It will accomplish just this.  I’ll write more about this later.

I’ve included two “YouTube” video links so you can see how to practice walking.  “Are you kidding me?”, you ask.  You’d be surprised how many people have stopped fully moving when they walk.  Anyway, I’ve linked cartoon videos because there weren’t any great human gait examples (See!… point made).  In the first video the guy is a little floppy and over exaggerated but on the whole uses his body well.  Watch the heel to toe strike, see the arm movement, the hips are even, he’s bending his knees.  He’s walking.  The Daffy Duck example is what I see a lot.  Shoes that are too stiff take away mobility in the foot so people plop their feet down.  His whole gait is quite funky.  Actually… Daffy call me buddy!!!

Normal Walk Cycle YouTube Video

Daffy Duck from YouTube

As always, enjoy this.  And even if you aren’t in pain, don’t hesitate to follow the above recommendations.  A balanced body will keep your joints, tendons, muscles and subsequently bones happier and healthier.  Always feel free to contact me if you have further questions.  Be good to your mind, body and soul.

Kathryn Rollins, RN, BSN

Plumb Lines

Read more of Kathryn’s wellness posts at her blog.

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Date: Wednesday, 18. August 2010 18:32
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1 Comment

  1. 1

    Thank you for this article. What a graphic and effective image to start with! I love how easily my mind came around to understand the way we adjust ourselves to accommodate pain we are experiencing.

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