Thoughts on Exercising After Common Surgeries

man feeling joint pain in fingers | Pledge to Fitness

As many as 15 million Americans will go in for some kind of surgery this year. That figure includes everything from cataract removal to circumcision to emergency surgeries, but it also covers surgeries more likely to affect some of our clients here, such as total knee replacement…

Recovering after any surgery is a huge topic, complicated by the fact that everyone’s body is different, and there are lots of different definitions of the terms involved, such as “exercise” and “daily activities.” Always let your body be your first guide, in consultation with your doctor. But you can use our tips and interesting facts below to aid your recovery and hopefully get back to doing the fitness things you love.

After a C-Section, focus on your core

Roughly one-third of American babies are born by C- Section; that’s a lot of moms who’ll have to bounce back from serious surgery. Six to eight weeks is the minimum rest time you’ll see advised by experts, although Kegels and getting out of bed and walking within the first day of surgery are recommended for pelvic health recovery.

In fact, restrengthening your core is going to be priority #1 even as you’re able to get back to light exercising such as swimming and doing yoga. Exercises such as bridges and half-planks or side planks (best to avoid full planks for a while) can help rebuild core muscles and strengthen your pelvic floor.

Try yoga following heart surgery

A 2014 study found that patients who incorporated yoga into their rehab program after coronary artery bypass surgery showed great improvements in blood flow and cholesterol levels compared to those in traditional programs.

For people in this demographic, yoga is likely a new experience, so it’s important to stick to restorative or yin-yoga, as opposed to something strenuous like vinyasa. Poses in this category include caterpillar, bananasana, cat tail, and savasana.

You don’t have to hang up your sneakers after total knee replacement 

First off, be sure you need a total replacement before committing– evidence indicates a significant number of total knee arthroplasties are unnecessary. If you do have one done, “cutting” sports such as basketball and tennis may be off the table, but despite traditional wisdom, hiking, running, jogging, skiing, and even weightlifting don’t necessarily have to be. In fact, you need to keep doing them!

What causes most knee replacements to fail is loosening of the cement used. The reason the cement loosens is because the bone weakens/decreases with age and inactivity. So how do you build the bone back up? Resistance exercise. Physical activity also strengthens the muscles, reducing force on the joint.

In short, physical therapy after a total knee replacement is a lifetime endeavor, because it’s about giving the new knee a healthy environment to work in. And health and physical activity go hand-in-hand!

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