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A Doctor Offers Tips on Exercising After Sugery 2008-06-10 09:00:00

DrSugar Answers: How Can I Exercise After Surgery?

DrSugar is in the house and answering your questions.

Dear DrSugar,
I had an emergency appendectomy last Wednesday, and I'm wondering if you could give some tips for a post-surgery exercise routine. As an avid runner, kayaker, and rollerblader, it's driving me a little crazy that I can only really shuffle around. I think other post-surgery members of the Sugar community would also like to hear your suggestions. Thanks!
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A post-surgical fitness and exercise routine is very important to a full and speedy recovery from any type of surgery. The most important things to remember when recovering from surgery are to take it slow and always consult your surgeon regarding how quickly you can resume certain exercises. Most doctors will give you specific restrictions, such as "No heavy lifting (only 10 lbs. or less) for four weeks," or less specific guidelines like "No strenuous activity for six weeks." It is important to listen to your body and avoid exercises that cause pain at the surgical site.

On the first few days following surgery, the most important recovery exercise is a walking routine. Patients who get back on their feet early have been shown to have quicker recoveries and fewer complications than patients who remain in bed. A good goal might be getting up to 1 to 3 miles per day by the end of the first week after surgery. During the first week, it is also important to perform very light stretching techniques to avoid muscle shortening during the healing process. Avoid any stretches that cause pain or tension at the site of the surgery because you don’t want to tear stitches or impair your body’s natural healing process, which involves bringing the tissues back together.

As you are gaining confidence and strength during the second, third, and fourth weeks after surgery, you can gradually increase the intensity of your fitness routine. However, avoid sprinting, heavy lifting, and jumping, as strenuous exercises may actually slow the healing process and possibly cause injury. Potential modes of exercise could include stationary biking, very low-impact aerobics, brisk walks, elliptical machine use, or potentially very light jogging on a treadmill, as you feel more comfortable and pain-free. Take it slow, follow your doctor’s advice, and you will be back to running, kayaking, and rollerblading in no time.

If you have a question for DrSugar, send me a private message here and I will forward it to the good doctor.

DrSugar's posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. Click here for more details.

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UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 8 years
Yay, now there's a doctor in the Sugar house!
Spectra Spectra 8 years
Walking after surgery is EXTREMELY important, not just for the exercise benefits, but also to prevent blood clots. My husband's aunt had surgery (gastric bypass) and didn't walk after the operation like the surgeon told her to. She got a clot that lodged in her lung and killed her.
ms660bk ms660bk 8 years
Wow, I never thought that I'd see my own question posted up here! That's pretty cool. I've progressed past the shuffling stage and now I'm walking normally. Being able to recover so quickly has really made me understand the value of taking care of your body - eating right and exercising consistently. Thanks Dr. Sugar!
ragus ragus 8 years
I'd just focus on getting back daily activity abilities first save the work out until you are completely recooperated....your dr. will let you know apropriate physical therapy you should be working on.
Callie325 Callie325 8 years
Walks may feel like "not work" for a hard-core exerciser, but they're a great place to start! Get well soon!
imcs imcs 8 years
The worst thing to do after a surgery is to stay in bed... OMG - gotta get moving, even if just to the bathroom and back as often as possible. walk around your house/apt, but don't stay in bed (unless of course it is obvously necessary - I don't mean to sound unconsiderate) happy recovery!!!
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