Recovering From Total Joint Replacement

Immediately after your total joint replacement surgery, you will be moved into a recovery room to be monitored for a couple of hours. After the anaesthesia has worn off and you are awake, you will then be moved to your ward where you will stay for the next few days. A typical stay in the hospital will be between 3 to 5 days depending on your progress. Before the effects of the anaesthesia have fully worn off, you should consume pain killers to prevent a sudden onset of unbearable pain. So how do you recover from total joint replacement surgery?

Physical therapy

Muscle atrophy is the result of depriving muscles activities, leading to muscle wastage. This can happen after a couple of days post surgery, leading to shrinking of muscles and muscular apoptosis. In order to prevent this, physical therapy will be required. Physical therapy helps to strengthen the hip joints through various small but effective exercises. It usually begins almost immediately after surgery in order to prevent scar tissues from forming. A physical therapist will be there to teach you some basic exercises to help you regain strength and full hip movement in the shortest time. It continues even when you have been discharged, and you will be required to show up for your physical therapy classes up to 4 times a week.

Understand possible medical complications

Hip replacement surgery has a low risk and infections are at a low rate of 2%. However, this does not mean that you are completely clear of any complications. Blood clots in the leg veins can occur due to prolonged immobility, leading to serious consequences if they travel up to the heart or brain. Therefore, some surgeons will recommend the usage of compressive stockings.

Do not be complacent

As time passes, the hip will be stronger and the usage of walking aids such as crutches or walkers will no longer be required. Some patients will tend to get complacent and start to skip physical therapy sessions or ignore symptoms which may indicate infection. Therefore, always be mindful of your responsibilities as a patient and continue your physical therapy sessions until your therapist has given you the all clear.

Your new hip will be able to last you for at least a decade and provide you with freedom you never imagined. However, you still need to know that it is an artificial joint inside you and materials can fail due to various reasons and a second surgery may be required in future.

3 Reasons Why Physical Therapy is Important to a Sports Injury Recovery

Swelling, pain and loss of motion are common complaints following a sports injury. In order to regain post-injury levels, movement is extremely important. The experts in body movements are physical therapists who are trained to conduct specific exercises and stretches meant for aiding recovery to a specific part of the body. So, what are some reasons why physical therapy is important to a sports injury recovery?

Identification of deficiencies

Physical therapists are the ones who conduct each physical therapy session and they are trained to indentify deficiencies in the biomechanics of our body. Just by looking at how to body work will help them to know which part needs help. Therapists are also able to prescribe exercises which are helpful post surgery and help to ensure a fast recovery.

Increase range of motion

Post injury or surgery, the range of motion in that particular joint is extremely limited due to swelling and scarring. There will also be severe pain and the lack of ability to fully use the joint. As a result, exercises are required to be performed in order to overcome it. Physical therapy will help by ensuring a gradual increase in the intensity of exercises, helping to move your joints as much as possible without increasing much pain. It also helps to restore joint movements and strengthen the surrounding muscles.

Inhibit scar tissues formation

One of the side effects post surgery is the formation of scar tissues. However, scar tissues are undesirable due to various reasons such as cosmetic appearances, impediment of motion and as a source of discomfort. Scar tissues are usually darker in colour and their sizes depend on the depth of the wound. This can cause women to feel inferior and lose self confidence. Also, scar tissues are thicker and harder than normal tissues and this can impede motion especially if the scarring is at the joints. Being thicker and harder, it also presses down on other tissues, causing pain and lead to a higher chance of re-injury. Physical therapy starts early and this helps to reduce and inhibit the formation of scar tissues, lessening the chances of those effects mentioned above.

Physical therapy is an important part of the healing process. It actually starts before surgery and lasts all the way until around a year later. It helps to strengthen the muscles around the injury to help better support it and regain the range of motion after surgery.

2 Exercises to Prevent ACL Injuries

There are a total of four major ligaments in our knee whose function is to provide stability to the knee joint. One of the most important one is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). There are numerous fibrous bands attaching the ACL to the bones and that helps to keep motion in check and prevent excessive ones. It also prevents the lower leg from going into hyper extension. Due to the many types of forces experienced by the ACL, it is much easier to be injured compared to the other 3 ligaments. In this article, we will look at some exercises that can help to prevent ACL injuries.

ACL injuries are the most common knee injuries. Every year, many people tear or rupture their ACL due to various reasons, with the most common being sports. When the ACL is extended to beyond its maximum capability, it ruptures. Unlike bones that can heal on its own over time, ligaments do not heal on its own and once it is damaged, it will be permanently damaged and will require surgical means to aid in a full recovery. Situations where the ACL can be ruptured usually involve sudden directional changes or deceleration. In soccer, it can be as simple as a sudden change in direction to shield the ball from an opponent, with a hard twist while the studs of the boots are still firmly in the ground, causing the knee to twist and rupturing the ACL.

Lateral hops

Lateral hops simulate jumping and landing actions which are extremely common in almost every sport and is one of the major causes of ACL injuries. The body is designed in a way where the knee will cushion the impact from any jumps and hence it is important to “teach” our knee muscles how to properly absorb shocks. The main idea of lateral hops is to cultivate a good landing technique and thus it is important to land firmly on the ground without any shuffling actions.

Leg balance squats

Leg balance squats as the name suggests help to cultivate balance in the legs. It drives the legs forward and a quick switch to the other, creating a chain reaction. This way, the body can easily drive one leg to the side in order to work the hips and lower extremities to provide balance to the body when faced with any trauma, reducing the chances of an ACL injury.

Since our body is designed as a linkage system where every muscle group contributes to the control of the knee and the ligaments, a total body core muscle strengthening program should be put in place to help prevent ACL injuries.

Preventing Sports Injuries: Stretching Exercises

Medical research has proven that an increase in the flexibility of a muscle unit increases performance and reduces the amount of injuries sustained. Basic stretching exercises include warming up and cooling down sessions. The main mechanism is due to the loosen tendons after stretching which is less prone to tears when used. Stretching also helps to reduce the recovery time in-between sessions and increases the biomechanical efficiency.

There are basically 3 main types of stretching namely static, ballistic and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). Static stretching is the most common and the safest amongst the 3. Static stretching works by slowly pulling the muscles towards its maximum end range of motion for a duration of 15 seconds. This is done in a painless and controlled environment and during the stretching exercise no sudden jerks should be made. It is performed for usually for 3 sets and after which an increase in flexibility will be observed. Static stretching should also be performed after the exercise to aid in recovery. Studies have shown that stretching can help to dissipate the lactic acid build up in the muscles which are responsible for the soreness experienced post-exercise.

Ballistic stretching on the other hand uses the momentum of a moving body to stretch it beyond the normal range of motion. This is also known as bouncing stretching which pulls your muscles through exercises such as bouncing on a trampoline while stretching the back. Medical studies have concluded that this is not useful and can lead to injuries since it stretches your muscles suddenly instead of progressively as seen in static stretches.

Last but not least is the proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretch. It is the fastest and most effective stretching method that combines passive and isometric stretching to obtain maximum flexibility. PNF stretch was originally intended for recovering stroke victims. It works by passively stretching the muscles and then contracting it isometrically and repeating over and over again.

Stretching can be easily performed anywhere regardless of the activity you are about to perform. In fact, stretching should not be considered a warm up exercise. You should perform stretching even before you commence your warming up exercises. Always keep your stretches sport specific so that you work the correct muscle groups. Remember to always exercise caution when doing stretches and do not work muscle groups that are injured or it can be further aggravated.

Preventing Osteoarthritis through Exercise

Osteoarthritis is a significant degenerative disease that affects the joints. It appears most commonly in the lower extremities which includes the knee and ankles. The reason why the lower extremities are favoured is due to the immense amount of stresses experienced each day. Despite the high prevalence of Osteoarthritis, it can be prevented through simple exercises. We will discuss in this article about how best to prevent Osteoarthritis through daily exercises.

Studies have concluded that exercises can help to prevent Osteoarthritis. Light exercises such as walking are able to effectively reduce the development of osteoarthritis while heavy ones can lead to an increase. As we age, our cartilage becomes less flexible and more brittle. As a result, it cannot work as effectively as before. Exercising frequently helps to prevent muscle atrophy and this is beneficial for those suffering from degenerative joint problems. Exercising frequently helps to build muscle mass, increase strength and flexibility. Patients who complain of pain while exercising should consider aquatic-based exercises which are pain free due to the buoyancy of water.


Flexibility exercises

The aim of flexibility exercises is to increase mobility in the joints and reduce stiffness. Simple flexibility exercises can help to stretch the surrounding muscles and increase blood flow to the region.


Leg stretch

Sit down on the floor and bend your knees while holding the soles together. Hold your ankles firmly and slowly push your knee down using your elbow. You will be able to feel a stretch on the inner part of your leg. Remember to do this slowly or you risk pulling your quad muscles.

Lower back stretch

Lie flat on a piece of yoga mat whilst extending your legs. Get into a position similar to when you are doing crunches but instead of holding your ankles, hold your knee this time round. Pull your knees towards you at a slow but consistent pace while maintaining proper breathing techniques.

Low impact aerobic exercises

Low impact aerobic exercises such as swimming and cycling are gentle on your joints yet improving your cardiovascular function effectively. While people commonly associate osteoarthritis with aging, it does not seem to be the case now. There is an increasing trend in younger patients suffering from osteoarthritis. Instead of participating in high impact sports such as soccer and running, consider making the switch to low impacts ones.
There is no effective cure for osteoarthritis yet and the only way is to manage it with medication and exercises in an attempt to live with the pain and go on with your life.

3 Ankle Strengthening Exercises

Did you know that each person walks an average of 9000 steps per day? And the total distance covered by a person in his lifetime is sufficient to cover the Earth a whopping 4 times? Not only has the foot need to bear our body weight, it also has to lift it off the ground when we are walking. This places tremendous stresses on the ankles as well as the surrounding ligaments and tendons. With such a high use rate, problems can easily arise if it is not well taken care off. Imagine your ankle to be a car engine – you need preventive maintained after a certain mileage. However, you cannot give your ankle an off day as that will result in lots of inconvenience so the best alternative is to perform ankle strengthening exercises which can help to better support the ankle.

Ankle strengthening exercises are simple and can be performed easily almost everywhere without the need for big and bulky equipments.

Resistance band assisted flexion

The resistance band assisted flexion is a simple and convenient exercise that does not take up much space and time. You will need a resistance band which can be easily purchased from most sports shops. Place the resistance band over the top of your foot and curl the toes in. Slowly flex your leg outwards and you will be able to feel a slight pull at the ankle. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for 3 sets of 20s.

Achilles stretches

The Achilles tendon is the thickest and strongest tendon in our body and it passes through the ankle. Therefore, it makes sense to strengthen this tendon which is responsible for absorbing the weight of our body. Sit down in an upright position and using a towel, wrap it around the toes. Slowly pull the towel towards you and you should be able to feel a stretch in the ankle. Repeat this exercise for 3 sets of 20s.

Toe raises

Toe raises can be performed almost anywhere, even when you are on your way to work or school. Stand on the edge of a flight of stairs and slowly raise your toe. Standing on the edge causes your body to shift the entire weight to the toes and help to strengthen your ankles. It can also help to promote a sense of balance in your body. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for 20 times for 3 sets.

Without such a high usage, it is not shocking to know that ankle injuries are common. However, the inconvenience and discomfort of ankle injuries are too serious to ignore. Simple ankle strengthening exercises are simple and convenient and a little can go a long way.

Top 3 Most Knee Damaging Activities

Living an active lifestyle is great and the health benefits associated are undisputable. Exercising regularly is important to strengthen our muscles and better support our joints. Weak joints will increase the chances of misalignment for the bones, ligaments and tendons. However, it may also cause problems for your knee. Our knee has to bear the brunt of our body weight and activities such as running and jumping will cause a lot of compressive stresses on the knee and wearing out the cartilage. Although our knee is designed to take all these things thrown at it, it will give way eventually. There are some activities that are especially damaging towards the knee and let’s explore them further.

Activities are classified into 2 different groups, namely low-impact and high-impact. Low impact exercises as the name suggests does not cause much problems for the knee. They include yoga, swimming, cycling and walking. These activities ensure that the knee is properly supported even though it’s being used extensively. Another group is the high-impact group which includes jumping, running and weightlifting.

Jumping

Jumping is a high-impact activity that places tremendous stresses on the knee whenever you land. Your body weight is amplified through jumping and landing awkwardly places even more stresses, leading to a weight of roughly twice your original weight. Activities that require jumping as core such as basketball should be avoided by people with bad knees.

Running

Running is another high impact activity that is bad for knees. However, running methods and surfaces can be changed to allow a lesser impact on the knees. For example, striking the floor with your mid-foot is less damaging compared to a heel strike. Also, there is a push towards barefoot running which supposedly reduces injuries. The running surface can be changed to a softer one such as natural grass or stadium tracks. The soft surface can help to cushion and absorb some of the impact.

Weightlifting

Weightlifting requires flexing of the knee joint and your knees not only have to bear your body weight, it now has to take both your body weight and the free weight into consideration. This places an absurd amount of stress on your knee and this is further intensified when you attempt to bend and stand up.  Not only does your knee get damaged, the surrounding tissues such as the tendons and ligaments can easily tear.

Knowing what are the activities that causes huge stresses on your knee is important so that you can make an informed decision on what to do and what not to do. You need a functional knee every day and you do not wish to be inconvenienced by a knee injury that you can easily avoid.

 

4 Daily Activities to Reduce Risk of Hip Injury

The joint that connects our pelvis to our thigh is our hips and weak hips are often the cause of hip injuries. This is due to the extreme flexibility and range of motion our hips offer but there is a trade-off between flexibility and stability. Generally, our hips are stable but daily activities can cause injuries to them. Studies have proved that poor hip stabilisation causes injuries as the hip is heavily required to support the combined motion of our legs and knees. You can perform simple daily activities to reduce the risk of hip injuries. Let’s discuss a few of them in detail.

Hip Hiker

There are many hip exercises that can help you strengthen your hips. One of the easiest and most effective ones is the hip hiker. Place the instep of your right foot at the edge of a small stool, elevate your left foot. Avoid bending your knees and relax your right leg muscles and drop your left leg slowly onto the ground. Contract your right leg muscles immediately and raise your left leg again. Repeat this exercise for both legs for 3 sets of 15s.

Bridging

Bridging is another simple exercise that can be performed anywhere. Lie on your back on a flat surface and slowly lift up your buttocks, keeping your knee, shoulders and hips in a straight line. Contract your muscles as you perform this and hold in the raised position for 5 seconds. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for 3 sets of 15s.

Hip extension

Lie down flat on your stomach and keep your legs straight in a position that is not touching the floor. Slowly contract your gluteals muscles and hold in the position for 5 seconds. Repeat for 3 sets of 15s.

Resistance band extension

This is a slightly more challenging version of the hip extension exercise above and it requires the usage of a resistance band. You will need a chair to hold onto and maintain your balance. Place the resistance band on an object that is heavy such as your bed. Slowly lift your leg towards the back of your thighs and contract your glut muscles. You will be able to feel intense tightening of your glut muscles.

Most exercises can be performed in the comfort of your own home without the need for expensive equipments. They say that a little goes a long way and you can be assured that these simple exercises which you perform can indeed help you strengthen your hips and reduce your risk of injuries.

Importance of Recovery Period In Your Exercise Regime

Rest and recovery is probably the most important part of your exercise regime. Sufficient rest is required to maintain high level performance levels but many people still choose to over train and overuse their muscles. Too much rest will cause you to lose the intensity while too little will cause you to burn out fast. You need to strike a balance between rest and training. Repair and strengthening of the body doesn’t take place during the exercise itself. Instead, they happen when the body is at rest.

Recovery starts the moment you stop exercising. The glycogen in your muscle will be replenished and your body will start to repair muscles that are damaged such as minor muscle tears. It is through this process that your muscles get stronger and firmer. Imagine yourself twisting a paper clip now. The more you twist it, the stronger and more difficult it becomes. Your muscles will be able to withstand stronger loads the next time. However, all these are only possible through rest and recovery.

Sufficient recovery time also helps to burn more fats in your body. You can be doing a lot of cardiovascular training but without sufficient rest, you cannot burn off the fats effectively. Recovery allows the body to have time to fully stretch and contract the muscles and increase the heart rate. This increases metabolism and eat away excess fats.

Many athletes suffer from injuries simply because they over train and overuse their muscles. Without sufficient recovery periods, the muscles are unable to cope with the intense activities going on and pre-existing injuries will be amplified. Insufficient rest will also cause you to lose focus on what you are doing at the moment and this can be very dangerous, especially if you are lifting heavy weights.

Another extremely important reason why recovery is important is to allow sufficient rehydration of the entire body. Intensive training will use up all the fluids in the body and if they are not replenished, it can cause muscle cramps and even cause the body to break down. The muscles need to be constantly fed with electrolytes to keep them in optimum condition.

Rest and recovery are the most important part of a training regime. Although you may be tempted to not rest during exercises hoping to gain more muscles, it can lead to injuries and cause a negative effect for the body. Recovery also helps to repair the body and prevent injuries such as shoulder pain or elbow pain especially if you are playing sports such as tennis.

3 Rehab Exercises for Knee

Imagine our knee as the hinges of doors, only much more heavily used every single day. After a period of time, the hinges will start to squeak. What will you do then? The most logical way is to oil the hinge as oil will reduce the friction between the hinge and the door, allowing a smoother and silent opening and closing motion. The same goes for our knees! Our knee has to bear all of our body’s weight throughout the day and this is amplified through actions such as jumping. The pressure exerted on our knee can go up to 4 times of our body weight and sooner or later, our knee joints will start to go “rusty” and require maintenance. Rehab exercises are excellent for building and strengthening key muscles such as the Quad, hamstrings, abductor and adductor which will in turn help to reduce injuries. What are some great rehab exercises that you can do?

Quad contraction

Sit in an upright position and place a rolled towel beneath your knee. Place two fingers on your inner quad and start to push your knee down onto the towel. You will be able to feel your quad muscles start to tighten and hold in that position for 10 seconds. Slowly relax your quad muscles and repeat for 10 times. This exercise will help to firm and strengthen the quad muscles to better support your knee.

Hamstring contraction

Sit down upright on a chair and bend your knee 45 degrees. Sink your heel onto the floor and tighten your hamstring muscles. Hold in this position for 10 seconds and repeat for 10 times. To better support your thigh, you may use your hands to hold your thigh in a fixed position when you are tightening your hamstring muscles.

Resistance knee extension

You will need to sit down on a chair that is high enough to prevent your legs from touching the ground. Tie one end of the resistance band to the legs of the chair and another on your ankle. Slowly push your leg forward and align it with your thigh. You will be able to feel your quad muscles tightening and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat this exercise for 10 times. Be mindful to perform this exercise slowly as any sudden action may injure the quad muscles.

Rehab exercises for the knee will help to strengthen the muscles supporting the knee and reduce the risk of knee injuries. However, different exercises are meant for different target groups and you should always consult your physiotherapist whether you are suited for the exercise before performing them.