Returning to Exercise After Orthopedic Surgery

Understanding what to expect after orthopedic surgery can go a long way towards helping you with your recovery. Exercise is vital for restoring movement and building strength after orthopedic surgery. In fact, your doctor and physical therapist will have you up and moving the day of your surgery in some cases. Here are some general guidelines for a reasonable timeline for returning to exercise after orthopedic surgery.

Before your surgery

Seeing a physical therapist prior to surgery can help shorten recovery time. Depending on your surgery, there may be exercises you can do before your procedure to strengthen muscles and tendons that will support your body during and after recovery. You can also discuss and plan your physical therapy after surgery, so that you will have an idea of milestones and goals for regaining movement.


You will need to give your body time to rest before resuming your normal activities. Whatever your procedure, orthopedic surgery involves reconstructing or repairing bones, ligaments, joints, or tendons. There will be pain and swelling right afterwards. Be good to yourself and plan to take time off to take care of your body. Having someone to help at home is important. If you live alone, a health aide or nurse can help in the first stages of recovery.

Follow your recovery plan

You may go to a physical therapy center as part of your recovery. Your PT can answer questions about how you are progressing with healing and mobility. Applying heat or electrical stimulation can help with soreness you may feel from exerting muscles that haven’t been used in a while. It can also aid in healing. Your PT will teach you exercises that you can do at home to continue with the progress you make while supervised.

Keep it up!

As you return to your regular activities (like work and taking care of the home), you may find that you have trouble finding time in the day to complete your exercises. Don’t let it slide – consistency is the key to feeling better faster. Joints especially are susceptible to stiffness from lack of proper exercise. Your surgeon gave you a great start on the road to feeling good, but it’s up to you to keep your recovery moving forward.

Don’t overdo it

There are some circumstances where high impact activities should be avoided, even after a full recovery. If you have knee, hip, or ankle replacement surgery, activities like running and high-impact aerobics can shorten the life of your new joint. Talk to your doctor before beginning any new sport or exercise. There are many low impact sports and activities that you can enjoy, like walking, swimming, and playing golf. Orthopedic surgery can be the key to living a full life without pain.

If you live in the Plano, Texas area, Tarpon Orthopedics can help you regain the ability to move pain-free. We are experts in sports medicine, spine, and pain management, as well as joint replacement. Call (972) 596-1059 for a consultation today in our West Plano, North Plano, or Addison, Texas locations.

Yenny Rojas

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