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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!
Ready to Work Out

To see what DrSugar has to say about this, just


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.

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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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