What are the doctor-approved types of post operative exercises, and can physical exercise help you recover faster? Discover more, here…
If you’ve recently undergone surgery, you might feel like a lot of wind has been taken out of your sails.
Errors during surgical procedures can make it even harder to recover after surgery, so can exercise help you to combat these challenges?
As long as you know your limits, and make sure you only exercise when you’re ready, a little bit of movement can really help you to recover post-surgery.
In this article, we’re going to show you how to recover faster after surgery by telling you why it’s important and sharing the best exercises to help you through the process.
Before we do that, though, we’re going to quickly discuss when you should start exercising after surgery. Take a look…
When Should You Exercise Post-Surgery?
There are certain surgeries you can exercise immediately after and others you can’t.
Before you take our advice on the best exercises to recover after surgery, you need to speak to your doctor to find out when you’re able to get back on the horse.
Once you’ve taken your initial recovery period, and have been forwarded to the physiotherapist, you can seek their advice too. They’ll be able to advise you on the level of exercise you’re allowed to do, alongside any stretches or exercises they give you.
Once you’ve gotten the okay to start light exercise, you can follow our advice on the best exercises to recover after surgery.
Different surgeries have different recovery periods, so making sure you know what your specific recovery time is and when you can start exercising again is key.
Why Is It Important To Exercise After Surgery?
Once you’re given the all-clear by your doctor to exercise, you might think that avoiding it altogether is actually the safer option.
Why risk complicating your recovery by rushing into exercise too early?
In actual fact, the earlier you can start exercising again the quicker you’ll recover. This is the case for a number of different surgeries, including:
- Spinal surgery: better spinal mobility.
- Total hip and knee replacement surgery: earlier discharge from the hospital.
- Colorectal surgery: improves cardiovascular fitness.
- Breast surgery: lowers the number of side-effects.
- Cardiac surgery: improves pulmonary function.
- All surgeries: reduces the risk of blood clots.
These improvements are largely to do with the way exercise floods tissues with various useful materials. These include naturally occurring stem cells, anti-inflammatory cytokines, human growth factors, and clotting factors.
Exercise also helps your body flush out toxins, carry away and discard dead cells, and increase blood flow. Basically, it boosts your body’s ability to heal whilst reducing pain and swelling, which helps you recover post-surgery.
You can take this argument even further when you look at how exercise boosts mood and protects you from declining mental health.
Half the battle is fought mentally when you’re in recovery. So you’ll heal much faster if you can keep a positive mental attitude.
What Are The Best Post Operative Exercises?
Now we know you shouldn’t start exercising until you have the all-clear from your doctor and your physiotherapist. So, once you have that, what sorts of exercises should you do to help you recover?
It’s a good idea to build a post-surgical fitness routine that focuses on taking it slow and building up your strength incrementally. Don’t dive back into any old exercise routine you had before your surgery.
Also, make sure this new routine includes any specific restrictions your doctor or physiotherapist has given you.
To help you build this routine, here are the best post operative exercises to get you started:
If the doctor hasn’t specifically told you to stay in bed and rest, you should get up and start walking.
People who get back on their feet as soon as possible have been shown to have a quicker recovery than those that continue to rest.
Obviously, don’t push yourself too much. Just work on getting the blood flowing for now, and remind your body of what it feels like to be mobile.
Once you’ve parted ways with the physiotherapist, they’ll likely set you some stretches to do in your own time. It’s really important that you do them.
In order to recover quickly after surgery, you need to do the minimum your doctor requires, and then some.
Light stretching will help you avoid muscle shortening during the healing process and keep your body flexible.
Once you’re done with walking, and you feel you’re ready for the next step up, you can move on to light jogging.
This doesn’t mean jogging for extended periods of time or pushing yourself to your limits. It means increasing your heart rate slightly more than you would with walking so you can build up your tolerance slowly from there.
Sometimes, jogging can cause pain in the legs and hips because of the repeated impact of your feet hitting the floor. If you’ve undergone hip, knee, or any lower body surgery, jogging might not be a good idea.
Cycling, however, is a very low impact on the lower body. So, jumping on an aerobics bike or taking a brisk cycle down a country lane could help you recover after surgery more quickly than jogging.
Yoga might sound like ‘more stretching’ but it’s actually a lot more complex than that.
Many of the poses you perform in yoga actually use the body’s own weight for exercise. So they work as strength and conditioning, as well as flexibility.
The good thing about yoga is there are exercises for every body part. You can stretch your hips, knees, back, abs, and any other body part that you need to heal.
For example, if you’ve undergone abdominal surgery, you can try a plank pose which increases the strength in your abdomen. The fact that this pose uses the body’s own weight makes it less dangerous than actual weightlifting.
6. Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are another way to improve your strength without using heavyweights, which will be less likely to cause you any harm after surgery.
Because the bands only resist as per the amount of force you put into them, it’s difficult to go too far and hurt yourself.
The bands create resistance in order to get all your muscles to work, forcing the muscle fibers to contract. This increases both muscle and bone strength.
Again, you need to speak to your doctor to make sure resistance band exercises are safe for the specific surgery you’ve undergone.
Generally, though, resistance bands help you recover with fewer issues than weights.
Can You Recover Fully After Surgery?
In this post, we’ve covered when you should start exercising after surgery, and why it’s important to do so as soon as you have the all-clear. We’ve also taken a look at what the best post operative exercises are for faster recovery.
If you decide not to exercise when you’re able to, and only perform the recommended physical therapy from your physiotherapist, this may make things more difficult for you.
It’s always better to get on your feet ASAP, as you’re much more likely to make a fuller recovery.
The moral of the story? Get on the wagon as soon as you’re physically able, and you’ve had the all-clear from the medical professionals.
We wish you luck with your post-surgery healing!