The Benefits of Pre-Hab

We were surprised to find out that our own fitness expert recently had total hip replacement surgery.  Fitnness Expert Beth Oliver stopped by to tell us about the one thing she did before her surgery that made a huge difference in her recovery...and how what she learned could help anyone suffering from chronic pain or injury:

You may have heard people talking about doing re-hab after a surgery or an acute injury.  But have you heard about Pre-hab?  I used this innovative approach to prepare for a recent total hip replacement.
What is Pre-hab, and how is it used?

Most often pre-hab is a way to get as ready as possible for surgery.  In my case, years of over –use, a bit of “normal” misalignment and arthritis all contributed to the wearing out of my hip joint.  I used the pre-hab approach for three very important things -- 

  • I strengthened the musculature of the hips and the abdomen prior to surgery. (single leg dead lift)
  • I corrected the bad movement habits I had created due to pain (Simple walking exercise with a band) and weakness
  • and I also strengthened my “good” leg because I would need it to do things like getting out of a chair. (Single leg squat)

Why waste the time?  Aren’t you going to have to do all of that after anyway?

  • Yes, if you are smart, you will be doing therapy after a surgery as well.  But if you wait until then you also have to deal with the trauma of the surgery itself, the effects of anesthesia and even pain meds.  
  • Plus, you teach yourself the good habits of doing the exercises.  If it’s already part of your routine, it’s a lot easier to pick it up after!

How do you find a good therapist?
Well, your doctors should be able to at least get you started with recommendations.  But just like you would invest some time into choosing the right person to paint your house or fix your car, its well worth spending some time to find the right therapist. 

  • Get recommendations from friends;
  • look up their offices on line.  Every therapist I spoke to was happy to offer a consultation first.  I really treated this like a job interview. 
  • I even brought in my fitness DVD’s and showed them to the therapist.  I asked them to look at the content and tell me how they would work with me to get me back to my normal. 
  • I also suggest being very observant in their offices.  Is it clean and tidy?  Do they return phone calls promptly? 
  • Can they answer questions about insurance and billing?

Are there other reasons to look into Pre-hab?
The other way our viewers might benefit from pre-hab would be to help mitigate chronic pain and or chronic injuries.

  • Very often, chronic pain has to do with imbalances in the body.  If those can be corrected, via physical therapy, much of that can be mitigated.
  • Chronic injuries are often muscle imbalances as well and in that case often because the patient tends to do the same type of exercise predominantly.  In that case, the therapy will often include decreasing some forms of exercise and adding others.  For example a runner may need to do less mileage and add some training in the water.

What has this experience taught you that you can share with our viewers?

  • For those people who are less inclined to exercise, this has reminded me how fragile the human body can be. 
  • And that being physically active and strong is key to living a vibrant life.  You have to keep moving to enjoy the simple things in life…gardening, playing with your kids, walking your dog! 
  • For those people out there who are very active already, I do recommend varying the things that you do, to avoid too much stress on any one part of the body. 
  • And just a reminder to everyone, that ignoring pain won’t do you any good in the long run.  The sooner you address it, the better off you will be!


 

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