A major injury or surgery can halt our regular exercise regime and curb our motivation to keep up with regular exercises. Worried we’re going to make the injury worse, an increase in pain, and unsure of what’s safe to continue with, most of us stop exercising altogether and wait for the pain or injury to settle. BUT it is very important to continue exercising while recovering from an injury or surgery for both physical conditioning and to speed up healing.
Do you have a muscle strain or ligament sprain from sport? A back injury from a work related incident? Whiplash from an MVA? Have you just had surgery?
No matter the injury, you must continue with an effective and appropriate exercise program to help speed up the healing process and get you back to your pre-injury activities. Patients who get back on their feet early have been shown to have quicker recoveries and fewer complications than patients who remain in bed.
It is important to understand your injury limitations. Ask your physiotherapist or surgeon (if you are post-op) of any range of motion or weight restrictions there may be, such as elbow range of motion limited to 130° of flexion and extension limited to 30° for 6 weeks, or no heavy lifting (15lb) for 4-5 weeks.
Start conservatively, listen to your body. Begin with a slow walk around the block or on a treadmill at a slow pace (2 miles/hour). Alternatively, a steady pace on a stationary bike, or exercises in a pool, are great ways to keep active while limiting a weight-bearing load. Slowly progress depending on how you felt after the previous day; a good goal for the first week is to walk 1-3miles per day.
Your physiotherapist at Oakridge Physiotherapy Clinic will be more than happy to help you put together an appropriate post-surgical exercise program tailored just for you. In addition to some cardiovascular exercises, light stretching is important to keep muscles from tightening – which happens very quickly when resting after an injury or surgery. Hold your stretches for 30 seconds but remember to back off if there is pain or pulling, particularly at the surgical site.
Don’t forget a healthy diet is also essential for the body to repair, so stock your fridge with fruits and veggies and remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Listen to your body and be patient as your body also needs rest to help it heal.
If you have an injury or questions about your post-surgical rehab, give us a call for a consultation when you are ready. And don’t forget to like us on our Facebook page. You can also check us out on Twitter at @oakridgephysio.