Senior doing pilates leg lifts for hip replacement exercise

Why Pilates is the Best Option for Post-Op Hip and Knee Patients

Have you recently had a hip or knee replacement? Or, are you scheduled to have one soon?

Either way, you're probably concerned about the recovery process. You may even be wondering what kinds of hip and knee replacement exercises you can do after your surgery to speed up the healing process.

Rehab pilates is one of the best exercise options for people looking for safe rehabilitation following an injury or surgery.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of pilates hip and knee replacement exercises for people who have recently undergone surgery.

What is PILATES Exercise?

Before we get into the benefits of Pilates hip and knee replacement exercises, let's back up and explain what Pilates is.

Pilates is a mind-body exercise program that was created by Joseph Pilates. Joseph Pilates was a German expatriate who originally created traditional Pilates exercises to help himself regain health and strength after struggling with illness throughout his youth.

Eventually, he shared these exercises with English prisoners of war to help them regain mobility and strength.

His techniques later made it overseas when he traveled to New York. There, local dance companies learned about his methods and began using them to prevent injuries and improve strength and conditioning.

What are the Benefits?

Almost anyone can benefit from incorporating Pilates exercises into their workout routine.

Some specific benefits of Pilates training include:

  • Better athletic conditioning
  • Improved strength and stamina for new moms and moms-to-be
  • Strength maintenance and injury prevention
  • Improved mobility and strength for seniors

It's also easy to individualize Pilates exercises to make them easier or more challenging. Because of this, Pilates is an accessible fitness option for most people, no matter what their exercise background or ability is.

STOTT PILATES Rehab-Clinical Pilates

There is a specific form of Pilates, known as rehab-clinical pilates, that is especially beneficial for people who are recovering from a knee or hip replacement surgery.

Instructors who are trained in rehab-clinical Pilates use a variety of techniques and specially designed programs.

The purpose of these programs is to help people who have undergone surgery restore range of motion and live a normal life. Instructors also teach a variety of hip and knee replacement exercises that can help prevent future injuries or a need for additional surgery later on.

Exercises used in rehab-clinical Pilates focus heavily on strengthening the postural muscles in the spine and abdomen. In doing this, overall core strength, stability, and posture improve which willl lead to a better stability to the knee and hip which had undergone surgery. People who do Pilates regularly also will likely experience more balance and control in all their body movements.

Instructors use a variety of tools to help students achieve their goals. Some of the most popular apparatuses include reformers, foam rollers, balance equipment, and even cadillac tables.

Benefits Of Rehab-Clinical Pilates

Some of the benefits of rehab-clinical pilates for people who have just had knee or hip replacement surgery include:

  • Better posture and core stability
  • More range of joint movement and muscle strength
  • Movement pattern restoration
  • Better breathing control
  • Enhanced muscle control and coordination
  • Improved overall fitness and muscle tone
  • Better balance for injury prevention
  • Improve circulation around operated joint to quicken healing process nd reduce swelling.

As you can see, there's a lot to gain from practicing Pilates hip and knee replacement exercises following your surgery.

What the Research Says

At this point, you may be wondering if there is any scientific evidence to back up the efficacy of Pilates hip and knee replacement exercises for people who have recently had surgery.

The short answer? Yes, there is.

Quite a few studies have shown that pilates can be an effective form of post-surgical rehabilitation.

In one 2009 study, orthopedic surgeons worked alongside a trained Pilates instructor to create a specific protocol for 38 patients to do after having a total knee or hip replacement surgery.

Patients performed a series of exercises for at least one hour 3-4 times per week.

After one year, all 38 of the patients involved in the study were either extremely satisfied or satisfied with the outcome of their exercise protocol.

Twenty-five were extremely satisfied and 13 were satisfied.

Of these patients, 73 percent continued to practice Pilates on a regular basis.

Another 2015 study of 46 volunteers found that Pilates is more effective than standard exercise programs.

It is especially beneficial for improving balance and total quality of life in post-surgical patients. The results of the study showed that those who did Pilates-based exercises — including hip and knee replacement exercises — saw more significant improvements in overall physical function after completing the program.

Pre-Surgery Pilates

Pilates is a great recovery option for post-surgical patients. But, many experts also recommend that patients begin practicing before they even have surgery.

There are a number of benefits that come with pre-surgical pilates (or any form pre-surgery exercise), including the following:

  • Pilates hip and knee replacement exercises help strengthen the muscles for faster healing post-surgery
  • A stronger core makes moving around after surgery easier, especially while using crutches
  • A stronger core can also help you return to exercise faster once the doctor clears you
  • Pilates helps correct muscle imbalances to reverse bad movement habits and compensation issue, anticipate to prevent compensation post surgery
  • If the muscles are stronger before surgery, you may experience less atrophy during the recovery period

With all these benefits on the line, why not take some pilates classes or do pilates exercises at home before your surgery? Being stronger and more stable never hurt anyone, right?

Best Pilates Hip and Knee Replacement Exercises

By this point, you may be wondering what the best pilates hip and knee replacement exercises actually are. Some that are considered safe and effective for pre- and post-surgical patients include:

Supine Breathing

This is a great warm-up that will help you get more connected to your breath and body before transitioning into more challenging hip and knee replacement exercises.

Start by lying on the floor in a supine position — flat on your back. Then, as you inhale, focus on the sensation of your ribcage expanding to the side and into the floor below you. Inhale as deeply as you can.

When you exhale, purse your lips and push all the air out of your lungs until you feel your abdominals start to contract.

Leg Slides

This exercise helps you train your core. It's also great for preventing and treating lower back and hip pain, which makes it one of the best hip and knee replacement exercises for beginnersand hellp to mobilise the operated joint to prevent swelling.

Start in a supine position with the knees bent and feet hip-distance apart. The pelvis and spine should be neutral, and your arms should be at your sides with palms facing down.

Engage your core muscles and zip in your abdominals towards your belly button. At the same time, slowly slide your right heel down your mat away from your hips. Pretend you're sliding your leg through mud to really focus on moving slowly and with control while breathing in.

Don't let your lower back arch as you slide your leg down. When you've extended the leg as far as it'll go, slowly pull it back in as you breathe out. Repeat on the other side.

The Hundred

The hundred is a classic Pilates exercise that will strengthen all the muscles in the core. It's one of the most effective hip and knee replacement exercises, especially for people who need help improving their stability and correct poor posture.

Start by lying on your back with the legs bent in a tabletop position. This means your legs are lifted and your shins and ankles are parallel with the floor. Engage your core to stabilise your pelvis and lower back.

Take a deep breath in, then, on the exhale, lift your head (keep your chin tucked) and use your abdominal muscles to pull your shoulders and upper back off the ground drawing the rib cage towards your thigh. Lift your arms, too, so they're hovering a few inches off the ground in line with the shoulders.

Once you're in this position, take full breath in for five counts followed by five counts breaths out. At the same time, pump your arms up and down (they should only lift and lower a few inches) in time with the breath.

Repeat ten times for a total of 100 breaths.

To finish, pull your knees in toward your chest and slowly lower your upper back and head down toward the floor.

Single Leg Circles

Begin in a supine position with arms to your sides and palms facing down. Bend your left knee and place your foot flat on the floor.

Draw your core muscles towards belly button gently to help stabilize your hips, pelvis and lower back. Then, lift your right leg off the floor and straighten it as much as possible. If this is too difficult, you can bend your right knee.

Slowly lower your right leg toward the floor (don't let it touch the ground). Then, move it out to the right, drawing a big circle with your leg.

When you reach the starting position, repeat five times, then reverse the direction of the circle (lower it to the side first, then toward the ground).

After you've done five circles in each direction, switch sides. Continously breathe in and out for each circle.

Single Leg Stretch

Lie on your back with your knees in a tabletop position (like they were in for the hundred).

Prevent arching of back by keeping your core engaged, then take a deep breath in. On your exhale, lift your head and shoulders off the ground and extend and reach your left leg long to a 45-degree angle.

Keep your right leg in the tabletop position and grasp it with your hands — the right hand should grasp the ankle and the left hand should grasp the shin just below the knee.

Take a two-part inhale and switch legs — straighten your right leg and bring the left into tabletop, grasping with the hands. This time, the left hand will be on the ankle and the right hand will be on the shin. On the second part of the inhale, gently draw the bent knee in toward your body.

Take a two-part exhale and switch legs again. Repeat ten times.

Side Kick

This last exercise takes place lying on your side rather than your back. It helps strengthen the lower abdominals as well as the muscles around the legs and hips.

Of all the hip and knee replacement exercises, this series is highly effective for improving the gait and helping correct movements that put extra pressure on the knees and hips.

The first kicks in the series are front and back kicks.

To do them, lie on your side and make sure your hips and shoulders are aligned. Extend your bottom arm and rest your head on it, then place the other hand on the ground in front of you.

Inhale to prepare, then, on an exhale, lift your top leg so it is level with your hips. Then, flex your foot and swing it forward so it's perpendicular to your torso. Exhale, point the toe, and slowly swing it back behind you. As long as your pelvis and spine remains neutral and not rotating.

Repeat the front and back kicks 6-8 times before switching sides.

Next are side kicks. Stay lying on your side and, on an inhale, flex the foot and lift your top leg up as high as you maintain neutral and maintain control. Point the toe as you lower it down. Repeat 6-8 times before switching sides.

Last are clam shells, which are excellent for strengthening the hips and outer thighs.

Stay lying on your side, but bend your knees to a 90-degree angle, making sure they're stacked on top of each other.
On an inhale, keep your heels glued together and lift your top knee to create a clamshell shape. Hold this position for a second, then lower your knee back down. Repeat 6-8 time, then switch sides.

Keep your torso still during all these exercises — all the movement should come from the hip joint.

Sign Up for a Pilates Class Today

Now that you know more about the benefits of Pilates hip and knee replacement exercises for speeding up recovery, are you interested in signing up for classes yourself?

Whether you want to get stronger before surgery or enhance your recovery and improve your quality of life after, Pilates can help.

If you want to try Pilates, contact us at Pilatique Pilates Studio to sign up for a class. We offer a variety of group Pilates classes along with private and duet classes for a more individualized experience, so there's something for everyone.