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Pilates Before and After Hip Surgery

By: Stephanie Ruopp

The Benefits of Pilates Before and After Hip Surgery

Are you scheduled to get hip surgery? Or perhaps you’re recovering from having a recent hip surgery.

Whatever the case, this is the perfect time to do Pilates.

Practicing Pilates before and after hip surgery offers so many benefits. Strengthening the joint pre-surgery will help the procedure go more smoothly. After surgery, you’ll learn the ways to use your new joint safely and effectively.

We’ll take a deeper look here.

Before Your Hip Surgery

Most people are aware of Pilates and its ability to strengthen the core. It definitely does that. But by strengthening the core, you also improve your balance. Maintaining balance will be important once you come out of surgery. You’ll be less likely to fall and more confident about returning to needed exercise for that joint.

Pilates before surgery will also help to strengthen the tissue surrounding the hip joint, as well as maintain the range of motion. And because there is little to no impact, the exercises are gentle and can be performed even where there is deterioration of the femur in the hip.

One of the biggest benefits though is that Pilates helps to undo compensation habits you may have formed. These likely developed as you attempted to avoid the pain in your hip joint and have thrown your body out of alignment. This only further exacerbates the issue.

Finally, Pilates will help you to strengthen the muscles around the hip joint to speed up recovery time. Yes, some atrophy will occur after surgery during post-operative rest, but by strengthening the hip area BEFORE surgery, you’ll be starting the process from a stronger place than if you’d done no Pilates at all.

Pilates After Hip Surgery

We’ve been talking about how Pilates will help to strengthen the area around the hip. And it would seem to make sense that after surgery, you would only want to work the affected side of the body.

Yet, there’s an imbalance between the two sides of the body that has been exacerbated by the above mentioned compensation habits that developed before surgery. Plus, when you get right down to it, even though there’s a clear imbalance around the hip joint and the place of incision, the entire body experiences the consequences of surgery.

All of these factors are what makes Pilates uniquely qualified for rehabbing after hip surgery.

Pilates addresses the body as a whole. So while working to strengthen the area around the hip joint while increasing range of motion, the rest of body is targeted as an integrated system.

This is done with an emphasis on core strength and two way stretching. Pilates students learn from skillful instructors how to use the muscles of the core to support every movement of the body. Under the instructor’s watchful eye, they 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 also helps to speed up recovery by ensuring that the area around the hip is lengthened to assist with scar tissue.

When Can You Start Pilates?

This will depend on many factors. For some patients – particularly those who did pre-surgical Pilates – it could be as little as 6 weeks post-op. For others, it might be several months.

You obviously want to obtain clearance from your surgeon first.

Your best bet is to find a place that offers both Pilates and physical therapy. Physical therapists in these environments use Pilates equipment to further facilitate recovery of their patients. Then after the initial PT sessions, patients can move effectively into Pilates with the guidance of their PT.

Some Pilates Exercises to Expect After Hip Surgery

If you’ve already had hip surgery and haven’t yet ventured into Pilates, you might be curious about what some of the post-surgical exercises look like. Here is just a sampling:

Breathing in a Supine Position

This is simply an exercise to create awareness of your breath while practicing core activation. Lying on your back, focus each inhale on expanding the ribcage to the sides and into the floor. You want to feel that you’re filling up the lower lobes of your lungs with air. Then open your mouth wide and take the exhale all the way to empty – allowing the air to escape the lungs. During your breathing, practice core activation to create the feeling of a seatbelt tightened across the hipbones.

The Hundreds 

Lying on your back with your feet on the floor or in tabletop, you engage the core to keep the lower back in a neutral position touching toward the earth rather than arching. Lifting the head and shoulders, extend the arms long alongside the body. Inhale for count of five while pumping the arms, then exhale for a count of five. This is done for ten rounds – keeping the back neutral and the head and shoulders relaxed.

Single Leg Circles 

This exercise is ideal for simultaneously stabilizing and strengthening the hip joint. Lying on your back, one leg is extended toward the sky. The other leg can be flat on the mat, or knee bent to assist with tight hamstrings. In early days of recovery, the range of motion will be small and the circling leg will not pass the midline. As the leg circles, focus on keeping the other hip stabilized and still – keeping it from rolling around.

Spinal Twist

Either lying on the floor, sitting in a chair, or standing, you’re working to keep the hips in one plane while twisting from the waist and turning the gaze to the opposite side.

Interested in Doing Pilates Before and After Hip Surgery?

As you can see, there are many benefits to practicing Pilates before and after hip surgery. Especially when combined with physical therapy post-op.

Contact us today to find out how we can help. Our highly trained Pilates instructors and physical therapists will work with you to safely address your mobility both pre and post surgery.

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