How long after surgery can you begin to exercise?

How soon after minor surgery can you exercise


Recently I’ve had a few clients who are either recovering from injury or minor surgery and the first thing they ask me is how soon can they begin to exercise.


My first piece of advice is to always consult your doctor. If you’ve had something specific such as an appendectomy there are set guidelines which you should follow. Recovery time is important and no matter how frustrating you find it, remember that resting allows tissue to heal and starting exercise too early can jeopardise your health.


A post-surgical fitness routine is very important to a full recovery and a key thing to remember is to take it slow and stick to any specific restrictions you’ve been given. For instance, you may have been told “no heavy lifting” or less specific such as “no strenuous activity for six weeks.”  Strenuous activity raises your heart rate and puts pressure where you don’t need it, such as your abdomen and you could even rupture your intestines where your appendix used to be. Listen to your body and avoid any exercise that causes pain. One of the main risks of doing too much too soon is developing a hernia or infection.


For the first few days following surgery do a simple walking routine. People who get back on their feet have been shown to have a quicker recovery against those who remain in bed, but as previously stated, do as your doctor has instructed. If they’ve stipulated bed rest, then you’re going to have to stick to it!!


It’s important to carry out very light stretching to avoid muscle shortening during the healing process but avoid stretches that cause pain or tension near the site of the surgery, as you don’t want to tear stitches or worse, tear the internal wound. You’ll do more than just impair your body’s natural healing process.


As you gain confidence and strength you can gradually increase the intensity of your fitness routine and slowly move from walking to light jogging (usually around 4 to 6 weeks after surgery). Avoid sprinting, heavy lifting and strenuous exercise as you could actually slow down the healing process and possibly cause injury. I would recommend using a stationary bike, very low impact aerobics, brisk walks or, as you feel stronger, more comfortable and pain free, very light jogging on a treadmill. Follow your doctor’s advice and you’ll be back to normal in no time.


I’ve worked with many clients carrying injuries or in recovery, and it’s great to see that they want to get back into it but, my approach is to work around the injury and avoid further damage whilst maintaining and improving health and fitness.


If you have an injury don’t let it hold you back from exercising and get in touch – I’ll be able to help.


Katie Tomkins

Katie Tomkins
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