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Tips for Easing Back Into Exercise After Orthopedic Surgery

Mar 30, 2016


Orthopedic surgery can be a great way to restore your range of motion and overall mobility. However, it may take weeks or even months of hard work to get back to your baseline after an injury. Easing back into exercise will not only help you improve your mobility, but it will also help to prevent re-injury. Consult our Long Island orthopedic specialists to determine what activity is most appropriate for you.

Give Yourself Time to Heal

Orthopedic surgery involves reconstruction of bones, ligaments, muscles or other tissues. Giving your injury plenty of time to heal will promote better outcomes later on. At a minimum, you will require several days for swelling to decrease and the skin tissue to repair. Be patient with yourself during this time.

Consult Your Physical Therapist or Physician

Your orthopedic surgeons of Long Island can tell you what to expect regarding your rate of healing. Talk to your surgeon about whether physical therapy is appropriate for you. Your physical therapist can gently guide you through the process of reintroducing physical activity into your everyday life. This prevents the likelihood of additional injury.

Ask specific questions of your medical doctors: When can I start walking again? When do you expect that I will be back to optimal performance? Is it normal to feel pain when exercising again for the first time? If you doctor gives you a general guideline such as “rest for 10 days,” make sure you understand what that means. Your idea of resting may not be the same as your surgeon’s.

Go Slowly

The number one rule of easing back into exercise after orthopedic surgery is to go slowly. Perhaps you used to run an 8-minute mile. Attempting to do so soon after a surgery could result in another injury. Instead, begin by walking and increase your pace as you feel comfortable. Spend a week alternating between walking and a light jog. Then, spend the next week jogging at a slow pace. Gradually work your way up over the course of two to three months (or more, depending on the advice of your surgeon and physical therapist) to your original intensity.

Modify Workouts As Needed

In general, reintroducing activity following surgery should not be painful. You may feel some aches or muscle stiffness. However, stabbing or intense pain are signs of possible problems. Modify workouts as needed to decrease stress on the affected body part. Ask your doctor for recommendations on how to make your typical workout routine safe for you.