Going through surgery is tough on the body and the mind. Depending on the affected area, your medical professional and advisors may recommend a period of rest to let the body heal.
The most common suggestion is to gradually rebuild your body through regular exercise. With the pain and loss of confidence arising from surgery, how do you bring yourself to get back into active exercise without the risk or fear of injury or additional pain?
Our Exercise Professional staff has helped many seniors achieve their rehab and recovery goals after surgeries, accidents, and injuries. Through our vast experience working with these clients and regular investment in creating an exercise environment that enables safe and pain-free exercise, we've created a simple guide to getting started with exercise after your surgery.
If you show up, you will eventually shape up. Even the simplest habits need time to get built and integrated into your lifestyle. Make a commitment to show up and do what is within your capabilities. Confidence in yourself comes from repeated success with good decisions.
Start small/light and build consistency.
A manageable effort over time has compounding benefits. If you're resuming an active exercise routine or getting started for the first time, work with an Exercise Professional on figuring out the loads that you can manage and progressively increase once you're comfortable.
Assess your abilities and limitations.
Understanding your body's available range of motion, how much strength you have, how much flexibility you have, and how long you can perform exercises will play a direct influence on how much you enjoy exercising. Setting goals that are too large or outside your current capabilities can lead to feelings of dismay and feeling inadequate. Instead, if all you can do right now is 3.5 reps of a 2-lb weight. then your exercise process should include:
Achieving perfect form on each of those reps
Avoiding any re-injury or pain during your workout
Increasing the number of reps per set
Reducing the break time between sets
Building strength in that muscle using maybe a different setup.
Setting small goals of maybe doing 4 or 5 reps consistently without pain and correct form.
Iterating and paying careful attention to any negative experiences or emotions during exercise.
It is tempting and valuable to do your own homework to learn more about your condition. With over 180 million digital creators sharing tips and ideas on exercise, fitness, rehab, and recovery, it can be overwhelming to figure out which train of thought to follow for you. Remember, exercise has to be right for you. To help you research better, we've written a six-question guide that you can use every time you encounter new exercises that you want to try.
Rebuilding strength, balance, and mobility
The operated area will be tender, unusable, or have limited strength and mobility for a few weeks after your surgery. If your time in rest was longer, you may even need time to rebuild strength and stability in your legs.
Operate within limitations
At no time should you try to ego lift even if you're healthy. The gym is your happy place to spend time with yourself and your favorite exercise professional. to make consistent progress, you have to take a longer-term view of exercise. Doing manageable but progressing through exercises week after week is a much more reliable path to recovery from your surgery.
Use the right equipment
Use machines that help with reducing stresses and strains on the operated area. Simply using dumbbells and barbells as part of your exercise routine may not be the wisest strategy to assist your recovery. In addition to traditional free-weight resistance tools, Striation 6 offers many other types of equipment and machines that can help achieve a high-quality workout without placing unnecessary stress on your body.
hydraulic resistance like the Keiser Leg Press. Hydraulic resistance systems provide resistance through compressed air. This means you can increase and decrease your resistance throughout the rep and throughout your set.
Cable resistance tools that use cables attached to weights through pulley systems to help isolate the plane of motion.
Static position machines that help hold the body in-place like the Medx Hip extension machine below
Specialized attachments to achieve muscle articulation if gripping with your hands is a painful experience
Check out Striation 6 owner and diamond level trainer showing the MedX Hip Extension machine
Custom setups for specific needs
Sometimes the traditional movement and structure of an exercise need to be modified to simplify the experience for your journey back to normal. One of our clients had an issue with doing lateral raises while standing and their trunk and spine would not hold steady during the movement. We proposed an alternative to the traditional lateral raise so we could achieve the movement without actually "raising".
In this alternate setup for the lateral raise, by laying down on a bench and adjusting the cables to your height, you effectively achieve the same result as a lateral raise with dumbbells with more support for your back and a more even-feeling resistance for your shoulder muscles.
Track progress qualitatively and quantitatively
It's not just about how much more weight you can lift. the important aspects of your recovery are: how much more comfortable, qualitatively, you feel during and after your exercise sessions. Ask yourself the following questions after each week:
On a scale of 1-10:
How much pain or stiffness am I feeling in the operated area?
How confident do I feel about performing the exercise?
How is my range of motion in the operated area?
How precise is my form while performing the exercise?
How comfortable do I feel with day-to-day tasks involving the operated area?
How comfortable do I feel without assistive devices such as crutches, walkers, braces, supports etc?
PS: You can download the infographic for future reference.
The End Goal
Find the joy in exercise
The purpose of Exercise is to maintain a healthy equilibrium. however, If you enjoy doing something over and over again, you will stick to it more predictably.
Take the time to make yourself and your preferences a priority and take an exercise route that you enjoy. Sure resistance is the key to building strength, but happiness is the key to reinforcing good habits. At Striation 6, we see exercise as not just a tool to build your body, we see it as a meditation to build a happier you.