After bariatric surgery you’re preparing for a new chapter in your life. A chapter that includes healthy eating choices and regular exercise, resulting in a new and improved you! There are a variety of different exercises that you can do while you’re recovering from bariatric surgery. As you progress, you will be able to add more challenging exercises to your workout routine.
Depending on your prior fitness level, your doctor will recommend when and how much you can start working out after surgery. Normally doctors recommend that you don’t engage in activities more strenuous than walking during the first 30 to 90 days after surgery. Here are six of the best post bariatric surgery exercises you can use and modify during each stage of your recovery from surgery.
Low Impact Exercises (2-4 weeks after surgery)
For the first couple weeks after surgery you should focus on your recovery before beginning your exercise routine. Once you feel up to it (and have your doctors permission), you can begin completing low impact exercises such as:
Leg lifts – While sitting, lift your legs in a marching motion.
Shoulder rolls – Roll your shoulders backward and forward.
Arm rotations – Lift your arms straight out at shoulder height and move them in small circular rotations forward and backward.
Walking – Although it’s one of the simplest things you can do, it’s also one of the most effective ways to begin building up your stamina. Start by walking for only 10 minutes, twice a day. Slowly work yourself up until you can easily take a 30 minute walk.
Aerobics and Cardio (1-3 months after surgery)
By one month after surgery you should be able to start some more challenging post bariatric surgery exercises. Make sure to go at your own pace and to keep in contact with your bariatric surgeon if you have any questions or concerns. Your surgeon should be able to tell you the best exercises for your unique situation. Here are a couple effective low impact cardio exercises:
Cycling – Riding a bicycle is great exercise that is easy on the joints. You can go to cycling classes or explore your neighborhood on a real bike. Try to ride for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week.
Water aerobics – This is one of the most effective forms of exercise with one of the lowest injury rates. Many gyms will offer water aerobics classes that you can attend, or you can choose to swim a few laps everyday in your own swimming pool.
Strength Training (4 months after surgery)
Strength training is essential to losing weight after bariatric surgery. Strength training allows you to build muscle, burn more calories, and improve balance. With your doctor’s permission, you can begin strength training at least 3 times a week. Some examples of good beginner strength training include:
Squats and Lunges – Both are effective low impact strength training exercises that will help to build muscle in your legs. Strengthening these muscles will allow you to complete longer endurance exercises.
Yoga – Yoga is a perfect mix of strength training and relaxation. You can purchase a yoga DVD to do in the privacy of your own home or find a gym that offers classes in your area.
Start out slow. There’s a big difference between sore muscles and sharp pain. If something feels a little off, make sure that you stop immediately and contact your doctor. Your bariatric surgeon will be able to recommend the best post bariatric surgery exercises for you and make sure that you’re on the right track. This is a time to celebrate your healthy, new lifestyle. All of your hard work now will result in many more healthy and happier years to come.
Note: Please check with your Physiotherapist/ Physical Trainer before starting a exercise program.
She did her community service in 2011 at Livingstone hospital in port Elizabeth. 2012-2013 worked at Sunward Park Netcare Hospital doing both rooms and hospital patients.
Physical therapy during pregnancy can be useful for remedying common discomforts like back pain or for enhancing your body’s ability to have a smoother pregnancy and birth. Physical therapy is not just for recovery. Talk to your health care provider about incorporating physical therapy into your prenatal care.
Physical Therapy for Back Pain
The number of pregnant women who experience back pain is somewhere between 50 to 70 percent.
The reasons for back pain vary from person to person, but the majority of back pain concerns can be accounted for by one of the following reasons:
- An increase in hormones
- A change in the body’s center of gravity
- Gaining additional weight
- A decline in posture
- Added stress
Over the last 40 years, the average age of women having their first child has risen from 21.4 to 25 years of age. Due to the fact that many women are juggling both the demands of pursuing higher education and the competitive nature of today’s workforce, more women are having their first child after the age of thirty five.
As a result, many women becoming pregnant are less physically active in their daily lives. This decreased activity leaves an alarming number of women under-prepared for the strenuous journey of carrying and delivering a baby.
Physical Therapy for Relieving Pain
Women searching for ways to cope with this reality may be surprised to know that four of the above factors can be directly addressed with a proper physical therapy program. Physical therapy is a medically based profession specializing in pain relief. Physical therapists (PTs) work with individuals to develop a treatment plan to decrease pain by identifying and addressing its causes.
Though it varies from state to state, many don’t require a doctor’s referral or prescription to see a physical therapist. PT’s can begin treating your pain on the first visit, so you walk out the door feeling better than when you walked in. Additionally, since physical therapy is a medically based profession, the services are covered by most medical insurance plans with limited out of pocket cost.
Treatment plans take a comprehensive approach by working on pain’s typical triggers:
- Joint alignment
- Muscle strength
- Nerve involvement
Additional weight, poor posture, stress and control of the center of gravity are not independent from one another. A change in your center of gravity affects your posture, which causes the muscles to work harder. Increased exertion creates fatigue, which leads to a decreased motivation to be active. The absence of an athletic release often results in increased stress.
Though it is difficult, this domino effect can be slowed greatly with the help of physical therapy.
Lower back pain is an all too common reality for many expecting mothers. As the uterus and baby grow, the mother’s center of gravity moves forward. This shift increases the amount of force the muscles must generate for everyday support causing women to slump forward. Over time this poor alignment creates muscle tightness in the pectoral muscles, rolling the shoulders forward and creating increased stress on the muscles of the neck, shoulders and mid-back.
If these muscular factors are not addressed, these forces will ultimately be translated down to the low back, an area which is already under a great deal of stress because it is supporting the increased center of gravity.
Additionally, exercise increases physical endurance and muscle strength, especially in the hips, back and abdomen. Improving these areas can prepare the body for the physically demanding event of delivering a baby. Finally, therapeutic exercise during pregnancy can assist the recovery after the delivery.
It tones muscle which will improve metabolism, decrease the severity of fatigue, and assist in reclaiming your pre-pregnancy weight.
I thought physical therapy was limited to recovery after surgery?
There is a general impression that physical therapists are similar to personal trainers or only work with people after surgery or catastrophic injury. While that is a component of what physical therapists do, it does not entirely encompass the scope of the profession. As stated previously, physical therapy is a medically based profession specializing in pain relief by identifying and treating the causes of pain in each individual.
A good program will take both an active, exercise based approach, as well as a passive one. The ultimate goal is to educate the client so that they can be independent in their program and continue to treat themselves at their own convenience.
Home Exercises during Pregnancy
There are no guarantees, but it is fair to expect your pregnancy and labor to be easier and possibly even go quicker following any strength and flexibility enhancements. Although a few visits with your physical therapist is a good start, it is essential to incorporate home exercises into your physical therapy program.
Your physical therapist is going to provide you with specific exercises that target what you need to make your pregnancy easier and even healthier. You can also rest assured that your physical therapist will guide you through proper usage of these exercises so that you can reap the most benefits.
Tips for Choosing the Right Program
Today’s expectant mothers have a wide variety of options to consider for prenatal care. The key is finding the appropriate program. Be wary of treatment programs that are passive, place increased stress on the joints and do not address muscle strength and flexibility with exercise.
Here is what you should look for in a physical therapy program:
- Managed by a certified professional
- Focused on building strength, increasing flexibility and improving posture
- Encompasses home based elements for you to do yourself
- Proactively looks for any weakness, which may become a problem later
Pregnancy is the ultimate strain on one’s body. Physical therapy can intervene to lessen this strain. A proactive strength, flexibility and stabilization program can be beneficial in preventing or decreasing the intensity of painful symptoms, thus making your pregnancy experience a more positive one.