If you’re wondering whether you can continue (or perhaps start from scratch) your Tai Chi practice after a hip replacement, you are not alone. Luckily, doctors and Tai Chi experts have come together to offer you 7 positions that are safe and beneficial.
To do Tai Chi after a hip replacement, please begin by confirming with your very own surgeon that Tai Chi is suitable exercise for you specifically. Then you can work with these 7 positions all the while making sure you are not crossing over your weight onto the side of the hip that was replaced.
Why Tai Chi Training Works For Seniors
It may not look like it to an outside observer. but Tai Chi is, in fact, a martial art. However, the reason it doesn’t always look like one is that it’s an “internal” martial art.
What this means is that Tai Chi is not solely focused on the way your body moves and performs the forms of the physical side of the art, it is as much concerned with your ability to master your own mind, so that you can take part in Tai Chi truly in the present moment to gain the maximum health benefits from it.
The Key Philosophy Of Tai Chi
Tai Chi comes from the Chinese philosophy of Taoism, which is not the same as the religion. It’s key principle states that if you somehow try to resist an opponent’s attack with “hardness” you are likely to come to physical harm as is your opponent.
Related article: Is It A Sin For A Christian To Do Tai Chi?
This leads to the way Tai Chi fighters move with an opponent’s blow until such a point as it exhausts itself or it can be directed elsewhere. You will also find that Tai Chi students are meant to behave in a “heroic” fashion – to protect those who cannot defend themselves and to offer their opponents mercy when they can.
Tai Chi is based on the Chinese principle of Yin and Yang. That is the theory that the cosmos must be kept in balance or chaos will rule over us. In turn, the human spirit and body should be in balance or we will find ourselves falling into chaos or disharmony.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Tai Chi?
The Mayo Clinic, one of the world’s finest medical authorities, provides us with a list of Tai Chi benefits that are available to everyone (not just those who have had their hips replaced):
- You will be able to reduce your level of stress
- You can reduce your level of depression and/or anxiety
- In turn, you are likely to see an improvement in your overall mood
- You will generate greater levels of personal energy and have higher levels of stamina
- You’ll be able to balance better, flex better and have greater agility
- Over time, your muscles will become stronger and you will have better defined muscles
- You will improve the quality (though not necessarily the quantity) of your sleep
- You can boost your immune system, so it fights off infection better
- You can lower your blood pressure and the risk of having or suffering from heart failure
- You can improve your overall level of well-being
- You can reduce the risk of having a fall
- You can also reduce the pain in your joints
It’s fair to note that many of these benefits are not unique to Tai Chi. They can be gained from any form of physical exercise. However, the low impact nature of Tai Chi makes it one of the most accessible ways to work out – if you observe a Tai Chi session it can be done by someone of any age, any weight and any fitness.
You will also see people of differing levels of physical ability in almost every Tai Chi group.
Can You Do Tai Chi After Hip Replacement?
Not everyone can do Tai Chi following a hip replacement and it’s important to take (and follow) medical advice before embarking on any program of exercise in this instance. However, many people can and do take up Tai Chi following a hip replacement.
In this short video a gentleman explains how his Tai Chi practice helped him recover from a hip replacement:
Doctors and physiotherapists recommend Tai Chi as a form of exercise following hip replacement and there are many good reasons for Tai Chi to be top of your list, if you want to aid your recovery from your operation without taking any undue risks with your health and safety.
Why Is Tai Chi Particularly Good Exercise Following A Hip Replacement?
It’s incredibly important that before you start any program of Tai Chi following a hip replacement that you check out your instructor’s credentials carefully. There is very little regulation in the martial arts sector and quite literally anyone can set up a school that “teaches Tai Chi”.
The trouble is that if the person teaching has no real qualifications in teaching Tai Chi and, in fact, is not competent to teach forms properly – they may cause you more harm than good. There are several certifying bodies for Tai Chi, and you should check with the body to ensure that their certification gives an instructor expertise in helping someone with a hip replacement.
The good news is that if they are qualified properly – Tai Chi is an excellent form of exercise to use following a hip replacement and, in fact, for anybody with lesser joint problems. Why is this the case? Well, it’s because Tai Chi is a low impact form of exercise.
Its slow and deliberate forms give you plenty of time to be able to assess if they are comfortable and to avoid pain if things become uncomfortable. There’s no need to rush anything in Tai Chi and that means it is safe and practical to use in this case.
One Thing You Should Not Do Following A Hip Replacement
Firstly, it’s important to take medical advice following a hip replacement very seriously. Your surgeon may have some very specific instructions as to what you can and can’t do with your leg to prevent you from dislocating the prosthetic replacement.
It is absolutely vital that you follow their instructions to the letter. No matter what you may read here or anywhere else, you are unique and the person best placed to understand what will work for you in terms of exercise and what will not is the surgeon or specialist that treated you in the first place, don’t be tempted to override their advice, it may turn out to be extremely unpleasant for you if you do.
Secondly, there’s one thing that pretty much everyone agrees that you shouldn’t do in terms of exercise following a hip replacement and that is crossing the foot over from one side of the body to the affected side, this is because it will almost certainly affect your balance and could result in a severe fall injury.
It may be that this means that standing forms of Tai Chi are not a good idea, either, because it may put extra stress on your hips. In this case, you may want to speak to your Tai Chi instructor to see what they can recommend to avoid this stress.
How Does Tai Chi Fit Into A Post-Hip Replacement Exercise Regime?
Physiotherapists recommend four types of exercise for those who have undergone hip replacement.
They are cardiovascular, strength, flexibility and balance. Let’s take a look at each of them and see where Tai Chi fits in.
Firstly, it’s important that whatever kind of exercise you choose to follow – you should always take 10-15 minutes at the beginning of each session to gently warm up your body (think walking, simple stretches, gentle range of motion activities) and to do the same at the end of your exercise for about 10-15 minutes to warm down again.
Everyone should exercise to a moderate intensity for about 30 minutes a day every day of the week. This can involve walking, swimming, aqua aerobics, dance, golf or cycling. However, if you haven’t exercised recently – you should gradually work up to 30 minutes a day.
This helps you lose weight and increase your mobility.
You want to do some low intensity weight work 2-3 times a week too. If you’ve never done weights before, you should seek instruction to avoid hurting yourself.
This helps you improve muscle strength and reduce the chances of falling.
This is where Tai Chi comes into its own. Physiotherapists recommend that you do 2-3 sessions of flexibility exercises a week and they recommend that you opt for Tai Chi to do this. They emphasize that during your Tai Chi, you should be seeking to move your joints as much and as far as possible without causing yourself any pain. If you cannot stand, they advise you to talk to your instructor about exercises you can do from a standing or lying position instead.
This enables you to bring back mobility in the joint and increase your overall range of movement – it should also improve, in the longer-term, your muscular health and the health of your bones.
Once again, Tai Chi can play a major role in this part of a post-operative exercise regime. You should be looking to do 2-3 sessions of balance exercises a week and Tai Chi can provide plenty of those. However, there’s a big note of caution here – if you are at any risk of falling, make sure to arrange seated exercises or additional support for when you are standing. Falling over will not help you heal.
This helps reduce the chances of future falls and to improve your overall body posture.
7 Tai Chi Forms That You Can Use Following A Hip Replacement
Once again, you must follow medical advice when deciding what kinds of exercise to do and if you feel that any of these exercises are unsuitable – don’t do them. In any instance, if you feel any pain – please stop what you’re doing. You’re trying to heal and not make things worse.
However, these 7 Tai Chi forms should be OK for most people following a hip replacement AFTER you get the go ahead from your doctor.
The Salutation Stance
Every Tai Chi session is supposed to commence with The Salutation Stance and every session should end with it too. You stand with your feet wide open and then gently turn to one side with the knees slightly bent.
You place your arms by your sides and gently relax your back and spine. Then slowly and carefully, you want to raise your arms whilst you inhale and then return them to your sides on the outward breath. You can repeat this 5 times before moving on to another form.
Tai Chi Awakening
You begin the Tai Chi Awakening in the very basic Tai Chi position with your feet spread out wide and with your back straight. You then slowly being your hands in front of you (palms facing inwards) with your wrists relaxed at hip height.
Interlock your fingers and then raise your arms to chest height as you inhale, on the exhale you should return them to your hips. Repeat this exercise 5 times.
The Horse Stance
You should approach the horse stance with a modicum of care as it might place strain on your hip joint, however, you should be OK and if you feel any pain – you should stop immediately, you can always try again when you have gained a little more strength and mobility. You don’t need to rush things.
Keep your feet wide apart and keep your back and neck straight. Then bend your knees slowly until they are perpendicular to the floor. Slowly bring your arms in to your chest and hold. Then repeat 3-5 times.
The Circle The Globe Form
You begin The Circle The Globe form by holding your arms up in front of you as though you were carrying a basketball or a football. Then move the right foot ever so slightly to the right and then bring your torso to join with it.
As you move your hands over your body, you should exhale. Then rotate them to the left as you inhale and shift your body weight to the left at the same time.
The Hands Waving Clouds Form
This exercise is particularly recommended for those with joint pain but as always, take your lead from your physician before undertaking it. Place your feet wide apart and then hold your arms forward of you with the left hand placed over the right.
Then pull your whole body weight to the left and then to the right. Move your body, don’t move your shoulders. This should help to loosen your whole body.
Tai Chi Bowing
Again, you need your feet placed wide apart to undertake Tai Chi Bowing and keep your whole body straight through the spine, your neck and your head. Bring your hands up before you with the palms turned inward.
Now slowly, bend one vertebrae at a time whilst inhaling, then return to straight on the exhaled breath.
The Back Twist
For this form, you stand as you would normally rather than with your feet wide and point the feet forward. Bend to one side as much as you can, then move to the other side. Repeat a few times and then rest your arms.
So how do you do Tai Chi after your hip replacement: First off, always consult your own physician to make sure it’s the right exercise for you! Remember not to cross over your feet to the hip side to protect your balance. Once your doctor approves, try out the 7 excellent Tai Chi positions, which will help you get moving and help you build up your flexibility and balance.