Abusive vs. Nurturing Exercises
Many of the people who come to see us in the pool have hip, knee, or back conditions. Someone told them they should try the water, so there they are. They might have gotten hurt playing basketball, or running, or other high-impact activities, and now they’re looking for a quick fix. Our job is to educate them as we also start the process of helping them heal.
We have to impart several key understandings if they’re going to stick around long enough to gain the benefits from our pool programs. If they’ve been injuring their knee, for instance, by taking painkillers for the past year so they could play beach volleyball, they need to grasp the concept that it could take them as long to regain a healthy joint as it took them to harm it. The next issue, of course, is that they love the sports they are devoted to and don’t want to give them up. The way I approach that sentiment is to tell them they don’t have to totally delete it from their exercise regimen, but they’ll need to balance out the abuse with more nurturing exercises. They can savor the smaller portions of their beloved sport if they cross train in the pool, staying fit without the impact to their weightbearing joints.
If the person you’re talking to has had an orthopedic surgeon tell them they’re looking at surgery, they’re likely to take what you have to say more seriously. If you don’t yet have your own long history in this area, let them know that many of us prevent hundreds of such surgeries every year. If they’ll commit to twice a week in the pool with you for at least two to three months, they’ll be remarkably fitter and have much less pain. Tell them that as they work toward not having surgery, they need to do everything they can to stack the odds in their favor. They need to eliminate everything that causes pain while consistently doing the things that help reduce the pain. It may be a few weeks or even months in the pool before they can return to their favorite sport even on a part-time basis.
You’ll need to continually encourage them and remind them why they are in the pool with you. They feel their pain going away, and they aren’t taking Advil every day like they used to. So they know something is improving, but they don’t see the big picture like we do. Like anything new, it takes a while for the mind to become part of the new activity. It takes time before the body begins performing the new skills automatically. Remind them every visit that in order to stop hurting their knee, hip, or back, that they are making a life-long change in their fitness routines, so they should be patient and give themselves whatever time that change will take.