You signed up for a marathon. It’s a considerable physical feat that you are planning to undertake. You have a couple of months before the race and you think to yourself, should I train? Of course you should! A marathon is both physically and mentally taxing. Without training for the marathon you probably won’t finish or even worse you might get injured. Either way, the outcome of the marathon will not be ideal and the race itself will be a battle. If we won’t even think of running a marathon without training, why do we think we can go into major surgery without preparing?
Major surgery can be a number of different things. Maybe you need a hip or knee replacement or maybe you are an athlete scheduled to have an anterior cruciate ligament repair or shoulder reconstruction. Whatever surgery you plan to have done, the recovery is like a marathon. The time that it takes for acute tissue healing, then strengthening the repaired tissues, then slowly returning to everyday activities or furthermore returning to competitive sports, it can feel like it takes forever to be back doing the activities you love. However, preparing for surgery, is just like preparing to run a marathon. Pre-surgery rehabilitation can help to reduce healing times, swelling, post-surgery inactivity and the associated decline from sitting in a hospital bed and due to reduced physical ability. Ultimately it can reduce the time it takes to return to your pre-surgery activities.
So what kind of preparation is required? This ultimately comes down to your individual case, and everyone has different needs, however, improving your lifestyle habits as well as overall strength, and cardiovascular fitness will improve your recovery. A study by Englesbe in 2017 found a 31% reduction in hospital stay length and a 28% reduction in medical costs when patients participated in a pre-surgery program consisting of exercise, nutritional and psychological guidance.
Exercise physiologists can help improve your overall physical strength and cardiovascular fitness, which as above is shown to improve recovery rates following surgery. Ask your surgeon for a referral to an exercise physiologist, to help physically prepare you for surgery and assist with a smoother recovery, following your surgery marathon!