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Ask an Exercise Physiologist: Planning to hike and sitting without pain

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Welcome to Ask an Exercise Physiologist. We’re back for 2021 and we’re here to help!

Wonderful questions this week about recovering from a hip operation and postural sitting tips. I’ll get to the other questions over the next month on osteoporosis, standing-desk tips, arthritis management and Saturday morning exercise for single chicks (loved that question!).

Ask an Exercise Physiologist is here to help with all your health and wellness questions and challenges: Lifestyle. Wellness. Pain. Health.

Do you have a burning health and wellness question?

Now is your chance to ask. Every fortnight we will pick a couple of questions, and help you solve your burning query. If we share our problems, we are more likely to solve them.

I have my wonderful work colleague, Kayla Bonney answering the first question this week. Let’s get started.

“I had a total hip replacement last week at [The Canberra Hospital], and not sure when I can exercise next. Do you have any recommendations for a fast recovery? I’m planning on hiking at the end of the year, and need to get fit. Doesn’t help that I’m 10-15kgs overweight”.

– Katherine, 68

Hi Katherine,

I hope your recovery is going well. For the first 6 weeks of recovery post hip replacement, it is advised that you do not raise the leg more than 90 degrees flexion of the hip, don’t cross the midline of the body with the affected side or rotate the hip inwards. It will be at the advice of your specialist when you are able to commence weight bearing on that leg and when your movement restrictions lift, there are smaller functional movements you can do in the meantime. Full recovery from a hip replacement may take up to 12 months or more.

In the meantime, here are some recommendations for long term recovery:

My first question would be to see whether you were provided with a set of home exercises when you were discharged from the hospital from the in-patient therapists. If not, I would recommend booking in with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist to set yourself up with a program. It is important to get started with gentle muscular activation exercises and range of motion as soon as possible.

Once your wounds have healed, it would also be beneficial for you to commence a hydrotherapy program. The water will allow you to walk with correct gait whilst still only partially weight-bearing, work on restoring range of motion and correct activation of the musculature around the joint. Hydrotherapy may also allow you to work at a higher intensity earlier in your recovery without loading through the hip. We have specific classes for your recovery at 8 am, 1 pm, and 2 pm in Deakin and Majura Park—here’s a new timetable link.

It is great that you have a long-term goal to help motivate you for your rehabilitation! Of-course your rehab may seem monotonous along the way so, having a long-term goal is important! Hiking in 12 months’ time is a reasonable goal to have, assuming you have a program in place that is progressive in nature and challenging the body in the right way.

I hope the above helps you to recover in the best possible way. Allow yourself to be patient in the process and work closely with your health professionals to guide your best options.


“I sit 35-40 hours a week, and my right shoulder and neck are in constant pain.  I didn’t realise a sedentary lifestyle was so detrimental to my health! Do you have any practical seated suggestions, so I can sit without pain”?

– Fran, 48

Hi Fran,

That’s a lot of sitting hours—I hope you have many breaks scheduled and you get up and walk around in your lunch break (our bodies aren’t designed to do that many hours every week!).

Many postural injuries occur due to an imbalance (one muscle group is too tight, and the opposing muscle group is weak and lacking tone). Have you had a workplace assessment? Living with bad posture can lead to all sorts of problems:

  • Chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain
  • Foot, knee, hip, and back injuries
  • Headaches
  • Muscle atrophy and weakness
  • Over-use problems
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Digestion issues and fatigue
  • Impingement and nerve compression

Here are a few practical sitting tips to help manage your postural pains:

  • Sit up, with your spine tall and shoulders back and down. Once you are as tall as possible, release by 10%.  This is more sustainable for a longer period of time.
  • A lumbar roll (or rolled-up towel) can help to maintain the normal curves in your spine if you struggle to support yourself.
  • Distribute your weight evenly into both sit bones.
  • Bend your knees at 90 degrees.
  • Feet should be flat on the floor, with weight distributed evenly.

Attempt to not sit in the same position for any longer than 30mins (maybe change the position of the rolled-up towel or lumbar roll).  Next week I have an article about “text neck”, which may help you—until then here’s a little Text Neck program for you, which will help your postural problems. Click here to download it to your computer.

Love, Kirra

Great questions everyone. I’ll answer more next month.

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