Training tip: Prepare for surgery with pre-habilitation.

Pre-habilitation focuses on preparing the body for the stresses of surgery by improving one’s physical fitness capabilities well before the surgery. A pre-hab program for PWC members and the local community is offered in the PWC aquatic arena by Aquatic Therapy and Rehabilitation Institute-certified personal trainer Sharon Steele.

Regarding pre-hab, the American College of Surgeons states, “Generally, the more fit and active you are going into a surgical procedure, the more likely you are to retain a higher level of function after. It is important for you to know and work on any functional deficits prior to your operation.”

By preparing the body for surgery and improving functional capacity, individuals who complete some form of pre-habilitation program recover faster, experience less pain post-surgery, and tend to have fewer post-operative complications.

Why pursue your pre-habilitation effort in the aquatic environment? Pre-habilitation in the aquatic environment has many benefits that could prove helpful to individuals who experience pain during exercise on land. The buoyance of water offloads the pressure on joints, reduces swelling, and improves a person’s sense of balance due to the hydrostatic pressure.

Aquatic pre-habilitation programs benefit not only joint-related surgery patients; the benefits can extend to cardiovascular, lung and weight loss surgeries, too. The PWC program is tailored to support the needs of the participant’s specific surgery and physical abilities.

One of Sharon’s pre-hab clients commented on her experience: “I have osteoarthritis and was scheduled for knee surgery. I had eight personal prehab sessions with Sharon in the pool before my surgery. I was ready! I was up and walking with a walker the day of surgery. I only spent one night in hospital. When I came home I used the walker for only two days before my home health physical therapist released me to use a cane. Less than a week after surgery I am hanging wash on my lines! All of my health care providers are amazed at how well I am doing. I feel great and do not have much pain. Prehab makes so much sense. Strengthening the muscles you will need to support your new joint before surgery replacement makes rehabilitation much easier.”

Interested in learning more about Aquatic Prehab? Please contact PWC director/personal training manager Whitney Propps at 540-445-5388 or