Three years ago I inaccurately considered myself a hearty and healthy 47 year old mom of three almost adult boys. My “to do list” consisted largely of items to be done for my family, very low on the list was time spent on me. I had no time to be ill or lame. Life marched on; things needed to be done. Unfortunately, this is a very familiar, well documented, and much practiced bad cultural habit of many women. To say I was in desperate need of a realignment of and investment in my daily health habits was an understatement.
That self-neglect came floating to the top of the list, after a small slip on a wet floor which resulted in a soft tissue injury to my left hip, I responded by promptly ignoring it for two years, denying my pain and ridiculous limp. Like the character Igor in Young Frankenstein, the joke in my family was not “what hump” when asked, but “what limp” as I trudged off limping to the extreme.
Fast forward two years, no longer could I ignore my body, I was unable to walk more than 25 feet and was living off of anti-inflammatory meds. I had limped my way into a mess. Out of desperation, I had begun water aerobics exercise classes and discovered that the only time I had any reduced pain level was when I was suspended floating in deep water. After a consultation with my orthopedic surgeon, which included xrays, it was clear my left hip had completely collapsed, bone on bone crumbled. Everything was out of whack, the length of my left leg had reduced 2 inches due to the collapse. A full hip replacement was scheduled.
My surgeon counseled me that to best prepare for hip replacement surgery, I should do everything possible to lose weight and gain muscle strength in my core, hips and legs, in other words get in the pool and move as much possible!
I took this advice to heart, for two reasons, I was scared of the surgery and wanted to do everything possible to achieve the best outcome, and much more intensely motivating was the fact, the pool was the only place I got relief from pain.
My boys gone, as empty-nesters, I had no excuses or distractions to justify my avoidance. While preparing for my hip replacement surgery, I immersed myself into water aerobics, taking classes at as many locations I could find, investigating and ultimately pursuing my own certification as an instructor through AEA (aquatic exercise association).
October 25, 2014 I had a complete joint replacement, posterior approach, of my left hip, no screws and no bone cement. I was prescribed a longer than normal recovery period, due to the time needed for my natural bones to grow into and be fused with my new hip parts. I recovered optimally, my muscle strength preparation was essential to my successful outcome.
My successful hip replacement and discovery of water exercise has changed my life, and all of it positively. I am now really healthy, pain free, and able to thrive. I can hike for miles, ride bikes, and feel no physical restrictions. I am a true believer in water aerobic exercise.
On June 27, 2015 I took the national certification test through AEA to become an aquatic fitness instructor, and I passed!
The water exercise environment creates neutral buoyancy on the body frame, it enables the skeletal system to experience very low weight baring compression on joints, while the muscular system and cardiovascular system can be worked out intensely. Full range of motion toning and an elevated training heart rate are accomplished in an hour with none of the traditional stress on joints. You can run in the pool for a solid hour and not feel the punishment in your bones associated with running on land, and still experience all the muscular and cardiovascular benefits.
Learning how water functions as a highly effective and safe exercise environment has opened up so many experiences for me. It is a great pleasure, my new career, and extremely rewarding to help others discover the benefits and bliss of movement in water.
This is a guest post by Sarah Kalbus, AEA certified Water Fitness Instructor. For more information on Deep Water Aerobics, visit Kalbus Aquatic Fitness.