top of page

Exercise after Surgery – Take these Steps

Exercising after surgery is tough to get back into and can be very difficult. Have you had an injury, illness, surgery or something that got you out of the groove with your exercise practice? Funny, haven’t we all! Let’s be honest I have a hate-love relationship with exercise. Yes, the hate goes first. Since my Autoimmune Diagnosis Pilates has become true love. My mind has connected my Pilates practice with medicine for my body. But after surgery, I was scared to go back.

Scared to Go Back

In September I was faced with an unexpected surgery. I was so frustrated at what this surgery would take away from me. Was I in a perfect place in my exercise journey, no but I was doing up to 4 classes per week of Pilates. Each class I was feeling like I was a rockstar and my body had really made some great strides in mobility. After surgery, I was paralyzed. I would get dressed in my yoga pants (yes my daily attire) but told myself today was the day I was going to class. At the end of the day, I was still in my yoga pants and hadn’t gone to class or practiced on my own.

Exercise for Inflammation

Exercise is important in our daily life. Movement is good for your overall health, mentally and for stress.  Pilates had become a favorite movement for my health needs. It was the way to get my movement almost daily that helped with my inflammation and an autoimmune condition. When I was in the middle of a flare-up I didn’t have to grip a barbell, do a lot of push-ups or lunges. Read more about my Autoimmune Journey here

An empty Pilates Mat.  My next step is to jump on and do my work!

Jump Onto the Mat!

Jump on The Mat

First-class back to Pilates. The class I pick is a small class with an instructor that I love. At my studio all of the instructors are awesome but I needed the one that felt like an old friend. One that would get me back. If your scared this is an important step for you to find your way back to movement. Another way is to do small sessions watching YouTube.

Pilates Teacher

As a pilates teacher, we work very hard that everyone at all levels feels comfortable in class. That we are ready to change things up, help them adjust to their working level at whatever they may be going through at that moment. I know I can modify a 100 different ways to accommodate my body. I even know I can choose to opt-out of an exercise. So why am I so nervous to go back? Why am I procrastinating going back when I know the output will be great? Instead of going to the studio where it feels like going home I want to sit at my house and have another bite-size snickers and pretend like they are little and I didn’t just eat 10 of them. My couch is where my incisions are safe. They can’t hurt if I don’t get off the couch. But if I stay on the couch I am not healing as I could be. Sitting could bring more adhesions and future pain.

Embrace where you are at in your movement practice.

Embrace what your body can do now!

What if it Hurts?

Class starts. My body starts to move and my muscles are stretching. It feels awesome! Then my body starts to fight me. My brain is saying don’t do it and what if you hurt yourself. The other half of my brain is saying keep moving you know your limits and you are safe. I feel a pull in my abdomen and stop. Stopping isn’t the answer. Our brains are trained to keep us safe but this pull in my abdomen isn’t like running for your life from a raging lion moment. Don’t allow your brain to talk you into running.

Just Keep Moving

Keep moving. My favorite exercise – rolling like a ball. Yes – can’t wait! As I start to curl into my ball my body doesn’t do what it could do 4-6 weeks ago. I am getting frustrated. Next move I am shaking. Okay, that’s part of the process of coming back as my muscles are tight. They are stretching and it feels great and I think about how happy my muscles are. My muscles are saying thank you for bringing me back. The muscles are starting to let go of some of the tension and stress they have piled on during recovery. At this moment I am so happy I am back!

But I Have Lost So much Progress

Next move, wait, I can’t reach that far or do that. My brain says… look at how much you have lost. The voices in my head are reminding me your body was amazing and doing things you have worked on for so long. Tears spring to my eyes as I think and feel on how much ground I have lost.

Think of What you Will Gain

The voices in my head say give up. I keep moving, thinking of what my Pilates mentor had told me weeks ago. “Don’t think about how much you have lost. Think about the opportunity to learn about your body coming back from recovery and how you can use that in your teaching practice helping others” I keep moving, I fight the tear and they go away.

Happy Muscles

Next move, my muscles are happy. It’s like they are shouting from the mountain top or drinking a cold glass of water on a very hot summer day – Thank you! In Pilates, your brain has to think about the breath, the movements, and the entire system. My mind and body connection are trying to adjust to all of the parts to remember and the proper flow.

Stop Comparing to Others

Frustration creeps back in and my breath is off and I am not in sync with the class. Maybe I should quit right now and use the excuse that it hurts. Take a deep breath blow it out. Remind yourself it’s not about being perfect just breathe and keep moving. This isn’t about the instructor or the rest of the class it’s about you and your body. Stop looking at your neighbor and comparing yourself. Stop thinking all fo the adjustment cues from the instructor are directed at you. Breathe and move at your own pace.

Goodbye Negative Self Talk

Soon enough I feel in sync, Doubt and self-talk have been pushed away. The only person I will let down is myself. Letting my body down in the movement practice it so desperately needs. You see I live in my body every day not someone else’s. It is my body and I am up to 15 miniature snickers a day. It’s me that will feel miserable. Class ends and I made it. It was a struggle but I feel better, awesome and sore at the same time.

Celebrate Your Day

Tomorrow is a new day and a new class. I am sure the same battle will be there or maybe not? You see at the end of the day and the beginning of a new day can bring new things. Sure that voice in your head will be there and it will be telling you to stop as you aren’t like the others in the class and you aren’t good enough. Or will that voice say nice work, your body just rocked that? Yesterday you are sore but you are a freaking rock star and you are blessed that today your body gets to move.

Take the step back. Put on your favorite work out clothes, put on some lipgloss, pick your favorite class, favorite instructor or trainer or bring a friend. Your body needs this and the frustration of getting back what you had will soon diminish and you will thank yourself. Most importantly, shut down the voices.

Imperfect Teaser but I did it!

My Imperfect Teaser but I did it!

Related Posts

See All


bottom of page