Exercise after surgery can be part of recommended physical therapy, or a return to pre-operative routines. In either case, done properly, exercise will help create flexibility, improve balance – by strengthening muscles that help stabilize joints – and keep the cardiovascular and other systems functioning well.
When and how you can begin exercise routines after major surgery will vary with the type of treatment you had. Most physicians will recommend at least a week, sometimes 6-12 weeks, of recuperation before even attempting regular routines. Consult your physician.
Most people will want to perform some kind of toning exercises and probably induce some weight loss. Most surgery reduces the metabolic and activity level – leading to weight gain and flabbiness.
Be sure to keep well hydrated, no matter what form of exercise you perform. This is helpful in order to keep the endocrine system functioning properly and aids the process that keeps joints lubricated.
Take it slow and return to your pre-operative level gradually. Here are some specific exercises for two different types of surgery. Again, consult your physician first.
About a week after surgery, you’ll still be experiencing discomfort. But recovery will be aided by some simple arm exercises. Perform steady breathing during the following:
Lift the arm on the operative side and simulate hair brushing and eating. Do a few reps at most the first few times. Raise that same arm above the heart for an hour, two to three times per day in order to reduce swelling. With the arm raised, gradually open and close the hand, building up to clenching a tennis ball as the discomfort decreases. Alternately bend and straighten the elbow.
After a couple of weeks you may feel fit enough to perform the following exercise.
Hold a broom handle (with the broom cut off), in both hands with your palms up, arms outstretched. Lift above the head and hold for a few seconds, then lower the broom handle to the pelvis. Repeat several times.
In these exercises, you’ll work the abs, pelvic, and back muscles. As with any routine, be sure to get the advice of your doctor before beginning.
Lie on the floor, knees bent, hands behind your head. Press the small of the back gently into the floor, then more firmly. Don’t try to work ‘through the pain’.
Raise your head and shoulders slightly off the floor, paying attention to the contraction of the abs. Take care not to move the chin toward the chest. Then slowly lower the head and shoulders back to the floor. Repeat several times.
Lift the hips, hold for a few seconds, then lower them. Do 10 reps. Then, alternate with the abdominal exercises. Roll over onto the knees, making sure you have some knee pads or carpeting to soften the point of contact.
Slowly raise one arm and the alternate leg. Alternate. Right arm out, left leg out, then, left arm out, right leg out. Hold each for a second or two, switch and repeat 10 times.
Again, don’t try to exercise if you feel intense pain as distinguished from mild discomfort. Take it slow, building up strength over time.