For many of us who enjoy an active lifestyle, the thought of being immobilised for weeks after surgery is a grim one. However, as your doctor will explain, it’s vital that your body gets the rest it needs to ensure a speedier recovery and no nasty secondary issues like infection or injury.
Today, we explore exercising after surgery and what you can do to assist your body’s healing throughout this delicate time.
The first and most important step in formulating a suitable post-surgery exercise regime is to gather specific instructions from your doctor. Different surgeries require different exercise limitations; knowing your exact recovery requirements is paramount.
Ensure that the instructions that you’ve been issued aren’t too general, either. If your doctor has told you to begin gentle exercise after two weeks, make sure that you have examples of exactly what constitutes ‘gentle exercise’ – walking, cycling, jogging, swimming, light weights? Gentle exercise could mean a range of things to different people; it's best not to leave any questions unanswered.
Although you may be itching to get out of bed and back into your old fitness routine, you must remember that your body is fragile and that you should only expose it to the gentlest of exercise. Some exercise after surgery can improve recovery by boosting circulation, releasing tension in muscles and fighting off feelings of stress and depression. However, if you go too hard too soon, you could create a whole new set of problems.
Wounds and stitches are prime infection zones. It’s important to stay sweat-free in the earliest stages of your recovery. Other muscles and joints may also be weaker after surgery; starting exercise again full throttle could cause an entirely new injury! If you're puffy and swollen, boosting your circulation during exercise could make it worse. Make sure to get your doctor’s okay before proceeding.
When introducing exercise after surgery, you have to remember to keep it low impact. Perform only gentle forms of exercise, which put little stress on your muscles and joints. Start by taking short walks – first around the house, then a slow stroll around the block, and eventually a couple of kilometres through your suburb.
Depending on your type of surgery, it may also be possible to introduce other low-impact exercises – such as stationery cycling, resistance training, swimming or pilates. Gentle stretching of joints away from your surgery location can also be helpful, preventing sedentary muscle spasms and pain. With your doctors approval, you may be able to ease into one of our low-impact frame or bar workouts.
Tip: Unsure about which exercises you can and can’t do? Get in touch with a physical therapist, who will be able to design a specific fitness regime suited to your personal situation
Have you had a recent surgery, which slowed down your regular fitness regime? We’d love to hear how you eased back into an active lifestyle.
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