Sunday, 24 January 2021

OSTEOARTHRITIS: HOW PHYSIO AND THE RIGHT STRENGTH TRAINING CAN DELAY SURGERY


Physio has taught me a lot about hip osteoarthritis and what I can do in training to help slow its progression.

I started my latest round of physio in September last year after the hospital treatment I was set to have (joint aspiration and steroid injection) got delayed due to the covid crisis. In some pain and discomfort with my joints I looked elsewhere for help. My health insurers approved physio.  

Since starting the course I've refocused my fitness training entirely. Physio has taught me an awful lot about how OA has impacted my body.


I'm currently working on strengthening the hip flexors (I didn't know mine were weak!). My psoas muscle in particular needs attention. 

OA often causes muscle atrophy (muscle shrinkage) due to imbalances as joints become less stable. Overloading weak muscles can lead to injury, so it's useful to know of any imbalances you may have and which muscles have become weak.

A physio will identify problems and write out a rehabilitation programme which will likely include exercises to do at home. If you already weight train you could adapt your own programmes to incorporate these exercises, something I have done.

Having a clear idea of what I need to do to combat the effects of OA and avoid further training injuries has given me a lift mentally. I feel so much happier knowing that I have a certain level of control over my OA. 

Initially rehab has meant scaling back training load - most current exercises require bodyweight or resistance bands only.

Heavier training will come in time. So patience is required. And that's OK, for when I'm fully back I'll be equipped with a better understanding of my own limitations.

Hip rehab exercises done at home

In recent weeks I've started walking with a normal gait again, the hip pain has lessened and I'm sleeping better. While some of that will be down to the joint aspiration and steroid injection I did eventually have (helping to calm inflammation), the strength I'm feeling returning to my hips is a result of the physio work. 

Having a surgeon you can trust to do a total hip replacement is incredibly important. But so too is finding a good physio who can ease you through the stages before you reach that point. 

Best of all a good physio will not only guide you through your arthritis journey they will also equip you with a rehabilitation programme that could actually delay surgery. 

* Hip rehab exercise video available on my Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest pages. 


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