Working Out After Surgery – How to Return to the Gym

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You’re down, but you’re not out. For whatever reason, whether it is because of an injury, or a cosmetic choice, you’ve had surgery.

Most of us look at the recovery period as a time we want to hurry up and get through. We forget that it’s just as much of a mental battle as it is a physical one.

Related: 10 Exercises for Lower Back Pain Relief

As someone who recently went through a surgical procedure, I want to share with you 6 important keys to making a comeback after surgery.

6 Keys to Working Out After Surgery

Key #1 – Prepare

InjuriesHaving a plan is crucial to the success of your recovery. If you don’t prepare it’s very likely you could end up at the bottom of a mental hole, scrambling to get it together. Having a plan allows you something to come back to so you don’t stray too far. You can always adjust your plan, but trying to create one while off track is a lot harder.

If you have a coach, discuss a plan for your nutrition, activity and convey the information your surgeon has given you so you’re all on the same page. If you don’t have a coach, brainstorm with a friend or an acquaintance that you trust. Go into your surgery with a realistic outlook on what will and won’t be possible.

Key #2 – Nutrition

Nutrition is so paramount and really one of the major things that kept me sane during my recovery. Since I wasn’t able to train, I had a death grip on my fitness by sticking to my nutrition.

Make sure it’s something that you are doing beforehand rather than vowing to start post-op. For me, my coach upped my fats considerably and lowered my carbs to aide in my recovery. Drink lots of fluids and start taking vitamins once you’re allowed.

Whether you have a meal plan set up or count macros, be sure it’s something you can stick to. When you’re able to get back to it, your future self with thank you for not causing unneeded excess damage.

Key #3 – Listen

Listen, listen, listen to your surgeon! This person wasn’t just paid for the procedure, they are there for your post operative care as well. Ask them questions, discuss concerns, and be incredibly honest with them about what type of training you do.

Allow them to clear you for various levels and types of activity. Everyone is different, heals differently and has different experiences after surgery, so do not solicit the peanut gallery when you should be asking your surgeon these questions.

Key #4 – Don’t Push

As you start to ease back into activity—truly ease into it. There’s no glory in pushing yourself too hard, only to injure or re-injure yourself. Being too eager to get back into your training at max capacity could set you back even further.

Be smart. If something hurts, stop doing it. Then circle back to your surgeon and let them know.

Key #5 – Be Patient

Recovery sucks and it’s frustrating, but as badly as you might want to get back into the gym, you have to remind yourself that your body just went through trauma. It takes time for it to repair itself and for the medications to leave your body.

Unfortunately, you can’t speed up the process, but you can do everything in your power not to impede your progress.

Key #6 – Be Positive

It’s easy to fall into the mind-hole that you are gaining fat or suffering muscle atrophy while you wait to get back to your regular routine. Unless you swan dove off the wagon, it’s never as bad as you think.

Once you are able to get back into the gym and ease into your routine, you’ll start feeling a lot better. Plus, being in great shape before surgery aides in your recovery and will help you get back up to speed.

Rather than focus on what you aren’t able to do, focus on what you can and give that your all, even if that only means hitting the button on the remote.

After surgery, it may seem like you are standing at the bottom of a mountain, but you are closer to the summit than you realize. Take one step at a time and you’ll be back to where you were (or maybe even further) before you know it.

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Name: Chrystal Rose

Bio: Chrystal Rose is an entrepreneur, online/print columnist, author, puppy rescuer, barbell lover and coffee addict, who after carving a sweet spot for herself in the business world, fell in love with health and fitness.