Improve Fitness after Surgery-Rehabilitate Yourself

8 04 2010

 If you have just recently had surgery, experienced an injury and now are finished with your HMO rehabilitative services and want to become fit there is a post exercise mobility therapy habit that needs to be considered to ensure quality living experiences.  Many that are going through physical rehabilitation tend to gain weight, lose strength, cardiovascular endurance and suffer acute to chronic pain from inactivity.

 If you experience weight-bearing acute to chronic pain in any of your weight-bearing joints, i.e., back, neck, hip, feet, legs and have put on weight, or simply want to take control of your weight, a safe starting movement activity is the way to go.  This means to find some form of activity where you can move your body to begin increasing your fitness levels. 

 There are exercise activity routines you could participate in to rehabilitate yourself to walk, if not able to walk well.  For example, there’s extended physical therapy offered by many health insurers, to include Medicare.  If your insurance does not cover extended specialized services because you have annual limits on these services which you’ve used up, all is not lost.  The same is true if you have coverage that only includes short-term, or very limited medical services.  If you have the ability to walk, you are in a better position to rehabilitate yourself through walking movement activity.

 Now if you’re in a bad way and you need assistance to get yourself rehabilitated, don’t go it alone!  Suck up your pride, reach out and recruit a friend or family member to drive you to the nearest social security administration if you can’t do this yourself, or visit www.socialsecurity.gov online, or call by phone toll-free 1-800-772-1213 to reach a representative.  Office hours are between 7a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Check into disability benefits if you can’t work.  While your there, check into the supplemental home assistance programs and other available services.

 Rehabilitation after surgery, or accident to get active with life will depend much on your ability to begin actively moving your body to receive a fitness benefit.  The disability assistance is nice because you now don’t have to worry about paying your basic living expenses.  However, a word of caution…  All too often, those with limited movement and pain begin to move even less when disability and supplemental services are provided.  This level of comfort somehow nestles within many to sit around further disabling themselves.  To develop a habit of less activity when one should be attempting to increase activity, “especially if one can walk” is detrimental and a contradiction to overall fit-healthy goals.

Another important point; to improve fitness levels and overall health does not mean your disability benefits will end.  All too often, fear in “not meeting” and maintaining the social disability expectation prevents many from ever improving their fitness levels.  A lifestyle dependent on disability support often promotes meeting the disability expectation for fear of losing needed supplemental disability services.  This primarily occurs because if people appear to become more fit, there is fear that these services may go away.  And of course this is not true.  Why?  Because the injuries, illness and disease that put you into this ill-health condition have been substantiated by medical professionals and most likely will be with you a lifetime.  You should not fear if you improve certain aspects of your fitness levels for better quality living experiences your benefits will be cut off.

 My message for those that find themselves in this situation, you can have better quality life experiences if you can find a way to get yourself busy in life through a walking activity.  Especially if you can pain manage this activity.  And if you can do this, you will also be able to travel a little more, visit family members, go to a ballgame, maybe even do other activities; like ballroom dance, walk the dogs, sit for periods of time and write that book you’ve always dreamed about.  The list goes on.  Through walking many ailments can be pain alleviated and fitness levels increased.  Of course, keep what I’m telling you in perspective.  Your quality living improvements are relative to your health condition(s), physical and mental limitations.  Never the less, you will experience more feel good endorphins if you begin moving your body.  This will also improve mood, motivation to do more with your time in a day, boost self-worth and reduce dosages on pain medications daily.

 The cost to you to walk is nothing, other than your time, effort and motivation commitment toward improved mobility.  Through daily physical movement activities fitness levels will increase.  This will positively impact mood disposition.  This is important why?  Increased fitness levels contribute to healthy heart, lungs, metabolism, lean body, body strength, reduced body fat, weight control, pain alleviation, better physical endurance, excellent circulatory properties, reduced depression and other ill-health prevention, etc.  A combination of healthy habits, such as daily activity exercise movement and balanced nutrition are two of the ageless body prevention formulas.   This combination instills “proven” ageless fountain of youth methods centurions have known about for years and apply daily to enjoy quality living experiences for life.  To know this information is a “powerful mind-body motivator” for those that are in daily need of rehabilitative strategies to improve overall fitness and health.

 But in order to begin movement exercise activity safely; if you’ve been a couch potato, post surgery patient, or are in some form of physical rehabilitative condition, overweight, etc., you must first develop a fitness activity exercise plan and include your primary care physician and/or specialists to discuss a physical fitness program to ensure it is right for you. 

 Remember we’re all different in age, have various fitness goals, pain issues, disease, life circumstances, etc.   For example, I didn’t use a gym for many years while I worked to rehabilitate my body after surgeries.  I simply walked around the house, short stints with mobility aids in/outside the house, did PT exercises in bed the best I could until my body got stronger.  After I was able to crutch my way around the neighborhood an 1/8 of mile I incorporated other activity.  I’m not telling you to base your exercise mobility routine like mine; I’m simply providing what worked for me as an example.  I also had 4 physician specialists I coordinated with to assure my plan was not going to be detrimental to my overall health.  I know making appointments with specialists to compare notes is an additional burden.  However, it is a necessary part of any rehabilitative effort to ensure when customizing a fitness mobility exercise program it is done safely with your specialist(s) in the loop.

 Even with an undergraduate degree in Exercise Science, although I’m well versed in fitness activity and the effects on mind and body, I’m not a doctor.  There are many aspects of illness and disease pain pathologies, medications and effect’s on the “encompassing being” I cannot safely forecast when incorporating a daily movement activity to improve overall fitness and health during a rehabilitative scenario.  This is why you need to include your primary care physician at the least before you undertake a daily exercise mobility fitness activity.  But one thing for sure that is consistent in achieving good health, that’s daily movement activity.

 One must get back up on their feet one way or the other and move forward to become more fit.  The best way I know how to do this is achieve a goal to walk without mobility aids if possible.  This may not ever be physically possible for some.  The key is movement activity.  So when I mention walk, if you cannot do this without a mobility aid, simply increase your daily movement activity using a cane, wheelchair, walker, etc. 

 To achieve more movement activity requires daily exercise activity.  This is certainly possible and applicable to all of those using mobility aids.  I’ve got to tell you, I got the best workouts using wheel chairs and crutches.  It takes much conditioning to get into shape to hall your body weight around.  I know this from personal experience.  I challenge any walker to keep up with an avid mobility challenged person that’s conditioned to do so daily.  A word of caution with mobility walk aids.  I did suffer torn rotor cuffs and neck strains because of my aggressive competitive nature to excel in all I do.  So beware, you can hurt yourself while increasing your fitness levels through exercise with crutches and wheel chairs.  To get conditioned with these mobility devices takes the body time to build up strength, postural balance, muscle toning coordination and cardiovascular endurance.  These things are true in training for any form of physical task specific activity.  And with this said, there are correct ways to train for increased activity and wrong ways.  I’ve learned within my rehabilitative experiences, I need to better pace myself and not train for a marathon right out the gate.  After all I’m no longer in peak condition as I once was many moons ago.

 Take one step at a time, one block at a time, and one mile at a time.  Do what you can daily.  Put no time lines, or distances on yourself.  The mind-body will tell you each day what it’s capable of doing.  If you have the ability to walk you’re much further ahead in becoming more fit and healthy.  Move around, or walk daily regardless of mood, etc.  Do your in home physical therapy in bed, flexibility, range of motion exercises, walk in place, move up and down stairs if possible.  The key is to move more daily, work to reach 10-15min/day exercise activity at a minimum before increasing movement walking activity outdoors.  Be consistent at daily movement.  Don’t miss a day.  This is important if you want to improve your fitness level activity circumstances.  If you use a walker, wheelchair, or cane get out and move forward/move daily.  Build up walking endurance with a walking mobility aid if necessary to achieve goal distances of 100ft for example.  Physical therapy exercises will vary for each individual and will not be covered here.  However, if you need ideals on how to warm up and exercise before walking activities research the following:  Use the library, Internet, magazines, primary care HMO home PT exercise book, relevant rehabilitative subscription information/self-help recommendations for your conditions, etc. 

 There are many self-help books and free HMO pamphlets available.   I personally like Pilates and plank exercises for core strengthening exercises after passive and active warm-ups like, hot shower and range of motion stretching exercises.  I also do these slow stretch exercises while I watch the morning news, or evening shows and in-between writing my daily articles.  My slow stretch exercises include seated reach for toes and hold, standing slow stretch side bends, neck rotation/side tilts and squatted back stretches holding from 10’s of seconds to minutes at any time within the day’s activities.  I then go on my daily walk (active warm up and conditioning) and incorporate Pilate’s stretches and body part light strength training at the local fitness center.  I do manage pain daily by knowledge of working around pain threshold trigger points during activity and certain prescribed medications.  Check out books and literature on Pilates and core strength exercise examples.  There are thousands of exercise examples.

 Other tips:  Consider “not taking” your car to the store for daily staples once you can walk half a mile total distances assisted mobility device or not.  Make your fitness goal each day to walk to a market that’s near.  Make a goal to walk and shop for your evening meals, or drive to and walk the mall for example “a safe environment as you rehabilitate through movement activity.”  Get a small backpack “once able to walk small distances;” carry healthy produce, products to the car, home etc. 

 Never carry more in weight than the weight you lose.  For example, I personally never carry more than 5 lbs in bags, one for each arm, greater than 1 mile.  That’s .5 mile one way.  This has more to do with my chronic back-neck problems than weight lost.  So you need to factor in acute-chronic pain triggers under load.  In other words when starting a shop & walk activity program, you don’t hall extra weight until you lose weight, or alleviate pain significantly.  Just like you won’t move your body by walking without a cane, or walker after injury, or surgery until your body was conditioned to do so. An unconditioned body to walk without crutches, walker, cane, or wheel chair adds more body weight to weakened weight-bearing joints.  To do so when the mind-body is not ready will risk secondary weight-bearing injuries to body compromising overall health.

 When you’re strong enough to walk  1/8 mile one way for a total of ½ mile without walking aids you are then ready to begin a 3-5 day fitness activity program.  Even if mobility aids will be with you for life, you can still work toward customized fitness mobility assisted 3-5 day walking program.  The fit-healthy body results will still be experienced, i.e., cardiovascular, muscular, postural, mental function and pain alleviation benefits in varying degrees.  Regardless when you apply more activity in life, this equates to better quality living and health body-mind experiences

  Please look for the following article at the home site to get on a 3-5 day activity exercise program that’s right for you after you complete your rehabilitative mobility exercise activity goals.   The article you’ll want to search for to progress to the next activity level, “How to Exercise and Increase Fitness Levels.” Try various combinations of exercise activity, break up the fitness conditioning patterns and don’t go into any activity program at full intensity unless trained to do so.  Good things in life come to those that take the time to do it right while balancing all life activities and this includes achieving fitness goals after surgery, rehabilitation and/or disability.

Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET2010 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter