The sad, yet simple fact is that as we get older, our bodies gradually deteriorate. Eventually, even if we are fit and active, some of us will need surgery to replace one (or some) of our more active joint areas, such as the shoulder, knee, or hip. Physical therapy and icing the area will go a long way to helping you recover, but fitness helps rehabilitating after replacement surgery in a big way.
Sure, you will certainly need to stay away from exercises that may put your replaced part at risk of re-injury, or reduce the intensity/frequency, but you should never stop working out completely. Focus on exercises that work on your mobility and stability – this will help you to work out any imbalances and strengthen weak areas.
Fitness helps rehabilitating after replacement surgery in some key ways. First, exercise gets your blood flowing, which transports your healing white blood cells to the injured areas more quickly than when your body is at rest. Next, your workout regimen rebuilds strength and flexibility to your injured areas (as long as the regimen is refined to slowly build back up), while conditioning other uninjured areas to maintain balance. Exercising in tandem with stretching and physical therapy will help speed up your recovery and help you reduce the risk of reinjuring the area.
A fit-centric diet can also help speed up your rehabilitation process. Get a good balance of omega-3 fats (they have anti-inflammatory properties), protein, and critical vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, manganese, copper, and Vitamins A, B, C, and D. These micronutrients have the following benefits:
- Reduce inflammation
- Boost your immune system
- Tissue regeneration, repair, and strength (including collagen formation)
- Support protein synthesis
Fitness Quick Tip
For better recovery after a knee replacement, follow this quick exercise regimen:
- Lie flat on your back on the carpet or a yoga mat. With your legs straight, lift your leg and hold it about 6 inches above the ground for about 10 seconds. Lower and do the same with your other leg, then repeat a few times.
- With your heels resting on the floor, bend your ankles toward you, then away from you. As you pump your ankles, rotate your feet. Note: This exercise helps circulate your blood to reduce inflammation and the risk of dangerous blood clots.
- Stay in the same position, but work your upper legs this time by pressing the backs of your knees to the floor while tightening the muscles on the front of your thighs. Hold down for five seconds and then release. Repeat several times.
- In the same flat position, keep your kneecap pointed to the ceiling while sliding your leg out so that your feet are several feet apart. Slide it back to the starting position, then do the same with the opposite leg.
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