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Is Yoga Safe After Joint Replacement Surgery?

yogaIf you’re one of the 35 million people in the US practicing yoga, you may be wondering if you can return to your practice after joint replacement surgery. Or maybe you’ve heard about the benefits of yoga and are interested in starting it up postoperatively. But is yoga safe and recommended for your new joint? Carried out with awareness of your limitations after surgery, yoga can be a very useful tool in the rehabilitation process.

Physical activity, including yoga, is an important part of recovery after joint replacement surgery. It helps to restore function and mobility in your joint, ease pain and swelling, and more. Yoga, specifically, helps to strengthen the muscles surrounding your new joint, increase flexibility, reduce stress, and can help you become more aware of your body’s alignment and posture.

Consult with Your Orthopedic Surgeon First. Remember, your situation is unique to you, and no one knows the condition of your new joint better than your orthopedic surgeon. Whether or not your orthopedic doctor recommends yoga can depend on how your joint replacement surgery went, how your recovery is expected to go, and what kind of restrictions you may have. For example an anterior hip replacement would allow for unrestricted yoga a few months after surgery. However a posterior approach hip replacement would require restrictions that would limit flexion poses like down dog child’s pose. It’s extremely important to consult with your orthopedic doctor before starting any type of physical activity, including yoga.

Talk to Your Yoga Instructor. If your orthopedic doctor gives you the go-ahead, it’s wise to also talk with your yoga instructor(s). Qualified instructors will know about the anatomy and movement of the hip and knee. They should be able to give you advice on what poses and movements will be beneficial, and what poses and movements you may need to avoid, either permanently or just while you heal. Modifications will most likely be necessary for a safe postoperative yoga practice. Your instructor can also help you correct your alignment to stay safe and provide help with any props.

Choose the Right Practice Style. Early on in the recovery, a restorative yoga class may be beneficial. Restorative yoga classes are typically slow and gentle, use a lot of helpful props, and focus on relaxation. Once you receive an okay from your orthopedic doctor to do so, any style of yoga, including Vinyasa or Bikram yoga, is possible as long as proper modifications are made to your practice.

Trust Yourself. After joint replacement surgery, it’s even more important to listen to your body’s cues while practicing yoga to maintain proper alignment and protect your joint replacement. Remember, never force yourself into a pose that’s painful or feels wrong.

Dr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is an expert in total knee arthroplasty, total hip arthroplasty, exercise and health, and more. Contact Dr. Stickney to return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle.


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