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Joint Replacement and the Pilates Pro Chair

Joint Replacement and the Pilates Pro Chair

Hear from one of our Pilates Pro Trainers Tineke Demattia below about how the Pilates Pro Chair can aid in rehabilitation process. 

“I had a double knee replacement last year, can I use the Pilates Chair?”

“I had a total hip replacement, is the Chair safe for me to use?”

“I’ve been told I need replacement surgery, should I wait until after to begin my Pilates Journey?”

I get these questions ALL THE TIME!  And the answer is “Yes, yes, and absolutely not necessary to wait, start now!”  The Pilates Pro Chair is a fabulous tool to aid in one’s rehabilitation for both pre and post operation. But how?  Why use the chair?  Within my STOTT training, I learned that using a pilates chair will help you manage your injury post surgery in the 6 following ways.  

  1. Reducing the scope of the injury. 
  2. Decrease swelling and discomfort and increase healthy blood flow at the injury site.
  3. Encourages the healing process.
  4. Re-establishes one's body awareness, strength, muscular balance and flexibility. 
  5. Increases joint stability to restore your ability to perform your normal day to day activities.
  6. Minimizes the possibility of recurrence or need for replacement on the other side.

Having said this, there are some guidelines that should be followed.

Total Hip Replacement

After you finished your clinical rehab from a total hip replacement, and you’ve been cleared for activity, your focus should be both knee and hip extension exercises.  However, you want to avoid your leg crossing the midline of your body; keep your joints and limbs in proper alignment and parallele.  Flexing your hip more than 90 degrees should also be avoided; if you are sitting on the chair, you don’t want your knees higher than your hips.  Other than that, you are good to go!

Knee Replacement

After you’ve been cleared for exercise from your therapist, and you can move your knee comfortably to 90 degrees of flexion, then you may add in resistance training, like the Pilates Pro Chair, to your exercise repertoire.  You’ll want to choose exercises that focus on strengthening your quads and hamstrings, and remember to omit any exercises that require you to be in a kneeling position.  And again, just like with the hip replacement, avoid internal or external rotation; keep your limbs and joints parallele. 

But did you know you don’t have to wait until after your surgery to use the Pilates Pro Chair.  There are many benefits that come with pre-surgery Pilates… or as I like to call it “Pre-lates.”  These include:

  1. Strengthening the muscles at and around the injury site for faster recovery post surgery.
  2. If you do end up needing to use crutches or a walker, having a stronger core will make moving and getting around post surgery easier.
  3. After surgery, there can be complications due to compensation.  Your gate, movement patterns and/or balance may change because you are compensating for your injury.  Other muscles may be recruited because you are keeping off or limiting muscles that would typically be used, thus creating new problems and injuries. However, doing Pilates beforehand can prevent you from slipping into these typical poor mechanical behaviors. 
  4. If your muscles at the injury site are stronger before surgery, then the chance for atrophy during your recovery time will be less noticable.
  5. You will have already created muscle memory, built up strength in the surrounding muscles, tendons and supporting ligaments, and will have already increased your mobility.

Whichever joint replacement surgery you endured, adding the Pilates Pro Chair will not only correct movement patterns in your body, but will also maximise the benefit of your new artificial joint. All pilates exercises, especially exercises involving the Pilates Chair, focus heavily on proper alignment and strengthening the postural muscles of the abdominals and spine.  Overall core strength and stability will lead to better stability and function of the knee or hip which has undergone surgery. In fact, a study published in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, found that Pilates is “especially beneficial for improving balance and total quality of life in post-surgical patience.  The results of the study showed that those who did pilates based exercise saw more significant improvement in overall physical function” of their new joint.

So what are you waiting for? All of these are outstanding benefits to get the most out of your current or new knee or hip!

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