A Safety Guide to Working Out After Surgery

Navigate your fitness journey post-op. Read this 'Working Out After Surgery 101: A Safety Guide to help you regain strength safely and comfortably!

Working Out After Surgery 101: A Safety Guide

Ready to get back to your exercise routine post-surgery but not sure how to start? Today's comprehensive roadmap navigates you through working out after the surgery.

This guide will help you understand the importance of careful planning, assist in recognizing your body's limitations, and help in setting realistic goals to start exercising with ease.

Understanding Your Body Post-Surgery

Undergoing a surgical procedure puts a strain on your body, and it carries over post-operation. Your body undergoes significant changes which impose certain limitations.

Following surgery, you could experience reduced mobility, changes in body balance, muscle weakness, and potential weight gain due to decreased activity.

It's critical to take these factors into account while planning your physical therapy and fitness routine to avoid injuries and identify the appropriate recovery wear to aid your healing.

Setting Realistic Post-Surgery Exercise Goals

Studies from the National Library of Medicine suggest the importance of resuming exercise to regain functional mobility, and it's critical to set goals within your fitness levels as approved by physical therapists.

Talk to your doctor about the following when setting your exercise goals:

  • Nature of your surgery

  • Current fitness level

  • Body limitations

  • Time frame

  • Recover process

Having a realistic vision of where you're at and what you are allowed and not allowed to do helps ensure you avoid strenuous exercises that do more harm than good.

When is the Right Time to Start Working Out After Surgery?

Your body will give signs that it's ready for physical activity. Here are some signals to look out for:

  • Reduced Pain: If your pain levels are decreasing and your scar tissue is healing, it's a good sign that you can slowly reintroduce exercise.

  • Improved Mobility: If your range of motion is improving, it's a positive indication for starting stretching exercises.

Role of Doctors and Therapists in the Recovery Process

Your doctor and physical therapist play a crucial role in determining when and how you can resume working out post-surgery.

Getting your doctor's approval in these four critical steps is a requirement before you can incorporate exercise into your daily routine:

  1. Initial Assessment: Your surgeon assesses your surgical wound, checks for signs of infection, and reviews your overall health status. If everything appears to be healing well, they may give you an initial clearance to start light exercise.

  2. Physical Therapy Evaluation: After the surgeon's initial approval, a physical therapist steps in to conduct a detailed evaluation. They will assess your current level of mobility, strength, balance, and endurance. This evaluation might include tests to measure your range of motion, muscle strength, and cardiovascular conditioning.

  3. Functional Capacity Tests: Physical therapists often use functional capacity tests to assess your ability to perform daily tasks without assistance. These tests may involve activities like climbing stairs, lifting objects, or walking a certain distance.

  4. Pain Assessment: Pain is a critical factor in determining if you're ready for exercise. Your therapist will evaluate your pain levels during different activities and movements.

Choosing the Right Type of Exercise Post-Surgery

Start with low-impact exercises:

  • Walking: Begin with short, slow walks, gradually increasing pace and duration.

  • Stationary Biking: Start with a low resistance setting, gradually increasing the resistance and duration.

As you progress, you can move on to high-impact exercises, such as:

  • Jogging: Start with slow, short jogs and gradually increase your pace and duration.

  • Jumping Rope: Make sure you're well-supported; start slow and gradually increase your speed.

  • Weight Lifting: Start with light weights, gradually increasing as your strength improves, always prioritizing good form over heavy weights.

Safety Measures During Post-Surgery Workouts

Ensure to use supportive gear during your workouts:

  • Compression Socks: They reduce stiffness, improve blood circulation, and reduce swelling. Quality ankle sleeves are also great alternatives.

  • Braces and Supports: These provide stability to the joints, preventing injury during workouts.

  • Heat and Cold Packs: Apply these for pain relief and to reduce inflammation during physical activity

It's also crucial to pay attention to signs of fatigue, discomfort, and pain during workouts. If you feel any pain, stop and rest.

Always hydrate before, during, and after your workouts. Eating a balanced diet will provide the necessary nutrients for recovery.

Don't rush into strenuous exercise or ignore any discomfort during workouts. Always maintain proper form and technique while ensuring you get ample recovery time in between routines.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Working Out Post-Surgery

One of the most common mistakes is diving back into your pre-surgery workout routine too soon. Your body needs time to heal after an operation, so gradually reintroducing exercise by starting with light, low-intensity movements is critical to preventing injury.

Disregarding warm-up and cool-down exercises is another issue. Both are essential for preparing your muscles for a workout and aiding recovery afterward. Warm-ups increase blood flow and flexibility, reducing the risk of injury. Cool-down exercises, on the other hand, help your heart rate and breathing return to normal.

You should also avoid attempting to navigate post-surgery workouts without professional help. Physical therapists can provide you with a personalized exercise regimen based on your specific surgery to promote healing.

While it's tempting to get back in shape fast, always give yourself rest days enough for your body to recover and rebuild. Skipping rest days can lead to overtraining, fatigue, and blood clots.


Getting back into fitness post-op can be a challenging yet rewarding journey if done right. With patience, professional guidance, and the right approach, you can gradually regain your strength.

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