How to Exercise after Major Surgery

Major surgery will have many after effects on the human body and you will need to allow your body the time it needs to start to heal before you begin to exercise. What type of surgery you endure will affect how long you need to wait, but the general rule is to rest immediately succeeding the surgery and gently work your way back into a routine, as your body begins to repair itself. Many claim that the fitter you are prior to surgery, the quicker your body will heal and your doctor will be able to advise you about what exercises you can do before and after your surgery, as this will vary depending on the type of surgery needed.

Gradually increasing your exercise intake is key after major surgery, as going straight back into a hard-core workout regime may cause problems such as rupturing wounds that need time to heal, opening stitches and putting your organs under unnecessary stress.

For example, if you have had heart surgery then it is important to create a light-moderate exercise plan two-four weeks after surgery but you should avoid lifting heavy things. This means exercises such as walking and playing light sports are preferable over weight lifting or fast running. 

Walk, Walk & Walk

One of the most effective types of exercise you can do after major surgery is walking. You can begin to do this in your hospital room before progressing to wandering around your home, try going up and down the stairs and then you can walk to your local supermarket.

Check out the top three health benefits of walking after major surgery:

1.    Nurtures the spine
2.    Strengthens muscles
3.    Improves flexibility

Walking encourages your circulation to pump nutrients into your blood and around your soft tissue, and it also drains harmful toxins. It will strengthen your muscles in the torso, hips, legs and feet and the stability of the spine will be improved as the surrounding muscles will be conditioned into a vertical position. Walking will stretch your muscles, ensuring you will improve your range of motion and this can help to avoid future injuries and surgery.

Exercise with a Professional

Major surgery will take its toll on your entire body and not only on the affected area. Finding the motivation to exercise can be hard and for many, employing the services of a personal trainer is ideal. You can find trainers all over the world by looking online and you can use search terms such as personal trainers in Sydney, London or whichever area you are based in. It is essential that you contact your GP or surgeon prior to beginning any exercise after major surgery and you will also need to give details of your surgery to your trainer, to ensure they can devise a suitable regime.

It is also a good idea to work alongside a physiotherapist, who will be able to provide advice and assistance in the initial post-surgery period. 

Don’t Push Too Hard

Exercising when your body is fit and healthy is different to exercising after major surgery.

Here are some warning signs to watch out for:

•    Pain in the affected area
•    Blurred vision
•    Cramps
•    Weakness
•    Nausea
•    Excessive shortness of breath or sweating

It is important to avoid pushing your body too hard, as it won’t be strong enough and increasing your exercise intake slowly each week is the best way to ensure you don’t put your body through too much stress.

Vary your Exercises

As well as walking, swimming can also be a great way to exercise following major surgery as the water works to support the weight of the body. Try walking on a treadmill if you don’t want to go outside yet and do light yoga or Pilates to get your body gently back into shape. Establishing an exercise routine after major surgery is an important part of the recovery process, whether you had surgery on a ruptured Achilles tendon or a vital organ. However, taking it easy and gradually increasing your exercise intake is vital and bear in mind what types of exercise you should do and

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