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  • Writer's pictureGav O'Brien

Regaining Fitness After Major Surgery or Injury

Keeping fit after surgery

I know from personal experience the challenges of regaining fitness after major abdominal surgery having my spleen removed. Now, for a busy personal trainer this was more than just an unwanted interruption to the job that I love to do. While the operation was a complete success, I dropped some 10kgs in weight and as I had little body fat, this was mainly muscle.

So then, like some of my clients, I put myself through a recovery of fitness and lean muscle mass exercise program. In total it took around 9 months to recover. So from personal experience these are my personal training top 6 tips for restarting exercise after major surgery or injury.

1. Make a plan

Putting together a plan is the crucial first step. If you don’t do this then you a simply preparing to fail! Any plan should have a SMART goal(s) at its end. If you’re not familiar with SMART goals, SMART simply stands for:

  • Specific: Well defined and easy to understand

  • Measurable: So you can track your progress as you work towards your goal

  • Achievable: Your goal needs to be attainable

  • Realistic: Your goal needs to be within reach and relevant to your purpose

  • Timely: With a clearly defined timeline

Having a plan gives you something to get back to so that you don’t go off piste.

If you have a personal trainer, discuss your plan for nutrition, level of activity and pass on all the relevant information your surgeon and/or doctor and/or physio has given you so you’re all singing from the same hymn sheet. If you don’t have a personal trainer and you live in or around Turre and Mojacar then consider giving me a call on +34 711 03 22 44 to see how I can help.

2. Really focus on your nutrition

I cannot stress enough the importance of nutrition in the recovery process. Living in Turre as I do, we are blessed with some of best fresh fruit and veg available, and the benefits of a healthy Mediterranean diet that can make a significant contribution to your recovery.

Advice from surgeon

3. Listen carefully to everything your surgeon or doctor tells you!

If your surgeon or doctor tells you NOT to workout for 4 weeks after surgery, DON’T workout for 4 weeks! Rushing back into exercise earlier may do permanent damage or at the very least make your recovery take a whole lot longer. In my case, I was told not to lift anything heavy for 3 months!

Medical professionals are no there just for the procedure but also post-operatively, so ask them questions, raise any concerns and worries and be upfront about the training that you want to do. This way you’ll get the right advice, the right time frame and the right way to incrementally return to the training you did right before your surgery or injury.

4. Do not push your luck!

Want setbacks? Want to delay your recovery? Then push yourself to breaking point. NO. NO. NO! Really there is no medal, no glory in pushing yourself, you need to ease back into physical activity of any kind. Pushing it could even set you back further through injury. Be aware of your body, if something is painful, stop immediately, and at the earliest opportunity let your surgeon or doctor know. If they give you any supplemental advice, adhere to it.

5. Keep a positive mental attitude

Don’t talk yourself into a big black hole of depression post surgery! Now as a Turre based personal trainer, my body is my advert. So dropping 10kgs wasn't great news. However, for my own mental health wellbeing I decided this weight loss was an opportunity NOT a calamity! Yes, you heard me right – an OPPORTUNITY to learn from the recovery process for my body, improving my skills as a personal trainer, so that I can help clients win their own battle to regain their health and fitness following major surgery or injury.


6. Treat recovery as a marathon not a sprint!

Look there’s no way around it, recovery is a pain in the 'proverbial' and it’s frustrating as you eagerly want to get back to the gym, or pound the roads running, so just remind yourself that your body has just been put through a large dose of trauma and that it takes time for your body to repair itself fully as well as for any medications such as general anaesthetics, blood thinners, strong pain relief to leave your body. So don’t try to rush things!

Need help to recover?

So there you have it; my top 6 tips to recover from major surgery or injury. If you live in or around Turre and Mojacar and you’re facing your own challenge to regain health and fitness following major surgery or injury but feel like you need a helping hand. Call me on +34 711 03 22 44 or email and let me help you get back to being fighting fit!

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