By Joy Graham
My lifestyle has always been active. I was extremely active growing up, playing all kinds of sports year round: softball, basketball, swimming, volleyball, biking, running and even playing field hockey. In my family you were expected to do all your chores before you played on the weekend, and that entailed heavy housework and yard work. After high school, I began working at a gym and taught old fashioned calisthenics, just like Jack LaLanne. Later, I progressed to being an aerobics instructor, teaching routines to music, using a record player with 45 RPM records. Then in the spring of 2004, my left leg decided it would not move for me and my life changed.
Frustrated, then disappointed, I soon learned from my doctor that my left hip joint had deteriorated. This was NOT caused by my active lifestyle, but because I had a cyst inside the bone of the left femur. This weakened the femur and wore out the cartilage in the hip joint. My doctor said that my active lifestyle and muscular strength may have actually saved me from having a hip replaced years ago.
A hip replacement at 47? You have got to be kidding me! I was too young, too active and too scared. What would happen to my second career, teaching aerobics, spinning and weight training? I wanted to be a personal trainer when I retired from teaching school. How would I ever get past this? I had a million questions. Can I still exercise? Will I be able to do what I do now? Will I be able to travel places and enjoy life?
The hip joint supports your body weight and is a key stabilizer of your entire body. It allows you to sit, stand, bend, walk, reach and bear weight. You can’t do much without healthy hips. For me, having a hip replaced sounded like a death sentence, but it was truly a second chance at life.
Prior to the surgery, my doctor suggested exercises to keep my muscles strong so I would recover faster. Joints need to move. Movement allows the joint to stay lubricated, increases strength, increases flexibility and decreases pain (eventually). Immediately following surgery, the physical therapy starts. The first day, I was up and walking and doing exercises. Remarkably, in just six weeks I was back teaching my exercise classes at the gym.
My advice to those who are facing possible hip replacement is to MOVE! If you remain inactive, the pain will get worse and you will have a much more difficult time recovering. When traveling, plan ahead. You will need to stop every 2-3 hours to walk (lubricate) and stretch (flexibility) your hips. When you reach your destination, make plans to stay active inside your RV (in case of bad weather) and outside your RV. Walking is the easiest activity to plan, but biking and swimming are also excellent exercises to incorporate, just to add variety. I also recommend some strengthening exercises to keep the muscles around your hip joint strong. These can be done with light weights, bands or simply your own body weight. Always finish your routine with stretching. The following are simple exercises that you can do on the road, or at home. Always remember to follow-up with stretches.
RV TRAVEL PLAN DAILY:
· Walk, bike or swim 20-30 minutes. (DO not forget to stop every 2-3 hours to walk and stretch.)
(Pictures with 4 simple exercises that can be done inside the RV or outside)
· Hip up
· Leg raises (with or without light weights or a resistance band)
· Balance standing
(Pictures with 4 stretches)
Hold each one for 20-30 seconds and then repeat:
· Hip flexor (each leg)
· IT band
Yes, you will have a few limitations. You will not be able to cross your legs, unless your doctor recommends otherwise. No more running (unless you are running from a fire) and no more long drives in your RV without taking a break.
Daily exercise should be incorporated into your lifestyle. This is not just for a hip replacement but for everyone. So get moving. You never know when surgery may be needed, but you will be prepared to recover as well as I did, and I now have two artificial hips!
Joy Graham resides in Bowling Green, Kentucky where she is a certified fitness instructor and personal trainer. Active in the fitness industry for 35 years, Joy is also a retired teacher.