Opinion Column

Fit for Life: Are you ready for surgery?

By Donna Cotnam, Daily Observer

Fotolia photo
Columnist Donna Cotnam suggests water aerobics as a way of exercising without putting extra pressure on joints, especially for those preparing for surgery.

Fotolia photo Columnist Donna Cotnam suggests water aerobics as a way of exercising without putting extra pressure on joints, especially for those preparing for surgery.


Over the past couple of years I have begun to notice more and more friends and acquaintances requiring surgery. Hips, knees and shoulders top the list. It has become a topic of conversation far too often. It could be that I’m getting older and so are my friends. As our body ages it doesn’t always respond the way it used to. All those years of ignoring the small aches and pains have now become so persistent that we can’t ignore them.

Many things contribute to the wearing down of joints. Athletic wear and tear – sport injuries that go untreated or misdiagnosed, repeated injuries, overuse of the muscles and joints, improper execution of an exercise, trauma to the joint such as a severe sprain or dislocation, carrying excess weight over the years and even genetics comes into play where the joints are concerned.

No matter how it happens when you get to the point that you require surgery the best thing to do is to be ready for it. Now before I continue let me just say that everyone’s situation is different and the advice I am giving may not apply to your situation. As with any type of exercise program you need to check with your doctor first, especially if you have any sort of pre-existing condition.

Most surgeries don’t just happen because you’ve had a sore knee or hip for a while. Odds are you have been suffering for a very long time. Once it’s determined that surgery is required, you should be asking your doctor and physiotherapist what exercises you can perform safely, in order to speed up the post-surgery healing process. Going into the surgery as healthy and strong as you can be, will definitely aid in your recovery.

Trying to strengthen of the muscles around the joints or lose some extra weight can only enhance your recuperation. That said, you can’t just start from scratch if you are not accustomed to doing any physical activity. On the advice of a health-care professional, start preparing slowly.

My suggestion would be to get yourself into a pool. Done properly, water exercises can be the best thing for your joints. Since we are buoyant in water, there is very little stress on the joints. You have a greater range of motion, enabling the muscles around the joint to get stronger with a lower risk of injury. The water provides a sort of passive equalized resistance. Working with an experienced trainer will ensure that you are making safe progress within your body’s limitations.

Once your surgery is completed and it’s time for therapy, your physiotherapist will most likely get you continuing on the path you’re started prior to the surgery. Since muscle memory is vivid, the muscles required will know what to do. The key here is to be patient but persistent. Don’t give up on your therapy because you can’t see it working as quickly as you would like. Be diligent with your exercise and before long you will be doing things you never thought you would be to do again. So if you are heading for surgery go in ready!!!

Please feel free to email your questions or comments to me at fitmom@hotmail.com.

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