Fitness After Surgery – Part 1

As part of every post-operative game plan, I instruct my patients on how to transition back to their exercise routine. Just as with any “injury,” the recommendations vary with the type of surgery and current level of fitness. I recently underwent repair of a left biceps tendon rupture and put my own advice to the test.

The first challenge was maintaining my fitness level between the time of my injury and the time of my surgery (roughly two weeks). I failed. I was exercising almost daily prior to the injury and was able to continue everything except resistance work with my left arm. However, I was so busy organizing my life in preparation for my procedure, that I just didn’t take the time. There are many emotional and physical challenges leading up to a planned surgery. Looking back, I wish I had overcome these challenges.

One of my fears was that I would just sit around and eat all day during my recovery. Fortunately, I did not have much of an appetite. I also did not have much energy. But after a few days, I would walk on a treadmill at a very slow pace. I didn’t boost my heart rate very much. I could have pushed harder. But at least I was moving. I’ll consider this success.

For six weeks, my arm was in a sling. I was restricted to minimal use of my left arm for another four weeks. Including the two weeks between injury and surgery, I had a whopping twelve weeks of minimal physical activity. Now two months later, I am well on the road towards my regular exercise routine. Next month, I will detail how I safely transitioned my activity during the recovery, and how you can do the same.