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Water Exercise Before and After Surgery

Let me confess, before I tell you about the wonderful benefits of using water for exercise purposes, I am definitely not a water-baby!  Unlike many people who have grown up on the coastline of Australia, I don’t even consider water as a “fun” recreational activity.

Perhaps the fact that I nearly drowned as a toddler has something to do with it all. The story goes that our big family of 7 children were having a picnic beside a river near Nelson, New Zealand, when a bonnet was observed floating away down the river. Great panic, and a frantic, concerted rush by my father to the rescue. It was my bonnet and I had toddled my way into the water and was gracefully floating away.

I love looking at water, and being around the sea and watery environments, but it is my last choice as an exercise modality if I want to get active. So I was amazed at how well I took to the water when I decided to use the pool to prepare for my surgeries and then to rehabilitate post surgery.

The first time I deliberately ventured into the pool was when my bilateral knee replacement surgery became imminent. I wanted to keep as strong and as fit as possible prior going into hospital, and exercising on land to the extent I knew I needed was a painful challenge.

Then after the knee surgery when I had both my leg bones chopped off, the prostheses inserted and then all put together again and sewn up, I waited long enough for the skin surface to seal off and I was into the pool again. The freedom of joint movement was a delight because, instead of battling against gravity, I was buoyant and able to bend my joints and get my muscles working in a far more graceful and painless way than on land.

After a spectacular fall in the Kimberleys, and the total rupture of two of my four rotator cuff muscles in my right shoulder, plus a nasty tear in one of the remaining ones, I again used the friendly resistance of water to help prepare and then repair that shoulder joint before and after significant surgery.

During both these times I made a friend of the water environment, first reconciled and then happy to use the pool as one of my exercise options. Once recovered however, I reverted to all my old exercise friends, cycling to Lamb and back, strength work, walking and exercycle interspersed with stool stepping and stair climbing, all with the aim of total body strength and conditioning.

One major plus from my experiences in the water has been my determination to provide a specialised class for people who really need water work because they have limitations on land. So when exercise physiologist Zach joined the Green Apple Team I was delighted to know that he had Learn to Swim qualifications and really understood the unique qualities and elements of water. This combined with his years at university studying exercise as medicine provided the ideal platform for the class I envisaged.

The Splashing Good Time class Zach is now a reality. The class number is capped at eight so Zach can provide individual attention to specific needs while still encourage the group interaction which helps us stick to our physical activity.

I’m excited about being able to offer this class to Green Apple people and hope that wherever you are in the world, if you plan to have surgery and you want to use water exercise to help your recovery that you will seek expert help to prescribe your exercise. Now that we offer online consultations, having advice from Zach in the form of an online rehab session for water work is a possibility too.

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