I would like to know who specialises in advising people with hip replacements about gym sessions and exercise. I am worried in case I go somewhere where they are not qualified to give advice for my needs. I need to exercise but do not wish to do more harm than good.
Anyone with health complications or on medications should take a close interest in how well qualified their exercise instructor is. Different health circumstances mean that not all kinds of exercise are equally suitable.
Unfortunately the exercise profession does not yet have a single or simple set of qualifications, and there isn’t a specific certificate for training people with joint replacements. So you are going to have to help yourself in two ways.
Firstly, you’ll have to be very “un-British” and be prepared to interrogate any instructor from whom you are seeking advice. Ask to have a word BEFORE they start putting you to work, and explain that you need to have full confidence in the instructor you work with. Don’t get over-impressed by their general qualifications. Instead, ask them specifically what they know about hip replacements and exercise. Here’s a sample checklist:
• Are you a REPS Level 3 instructor? (This is the UK minimum standard for advising someone like you)
• What special training have you had for advising seniors /people with medical conditions or disabilities?
• Have you ever advised or taught anyone with an artificial hip?
• Can you explain the main exercise do’s and don’ts for someone like me, and why they apply?
Their answers should give you a better sense of whether you trust their advice or not. And if you don’t, you must say you don’t feel comfortable working with them and ask to be seen by a more senior colleague.
While this may seem a scary, even rude, thing to do, I promise you it isn’t. Any decent professional will not be offended, and all you are doing is protecting your own wellbeing. There are very many excellent instructors who will be able to offer you good and safe exercises; your job is to weed out the ones who don’t have the right knowledge for your needs.
The second way you can help yourself is to be armed with some knowledge of your own. For artificial hips, a good instructor should know the following basic do’s and don’ts. You will need to have completed your physio, and have the OK from your GP to exercise. You should avoid high-impact activities (eg, jogging, badminton or jumping) and anything risking a heavy fall or knock, (eg, football, skiing or horse-riding). While swimming is great, breast-stroke leg kick is not recommended. Until your hip is 100% back to good working order, it’s best to avoid line-dancing and aerobic /step classes because of the many cross-over leg movements. Extreme leg positions of any sort may cause problems, so be cautious for instance with yoga or martial arts. Your exercise sessions should focus on building up the muscles supporting your hips and legs (plus general heart and lung health).