How to Stay Active After Orthopedic Surgery

For a patient recovering from orthopedic surgery, no phrase is truer than if you rest, you rust.” Orthopedic surgery can be a life altering event, and in order to regain the strength, endurance and flexibility needed for independent living, exercise and therapy must be a top priority. 

When it comes to getting the most out of an orthopedic surgery, a lot of the responsibility falls upon the patient and their compliance with post-operative therapy, not on the surgery itself. 

Padraic Obma, MD, founder and president of Strive, likes to compare the role of the surgeon to that of a quarterback in football.

 “Orthopedic surgeons are like quarterbacks. They get too much credit and too much blame.” 

That is to say, if a patient has an excellent outcome, they often credit their surgeon, when in fact it was their own hard work in therapy that led to their results. Conversely, it has been shown that patients who are not compliant in completing their therapy exercises as prescribed, tend to report the worst results. 

So, how can you make sure you stay active at home and continue to recover after your orthopedic surgery? We’ve got some tips that you can write down and follow for post-operative success. 


1. Stick to your physical therapy homework. 


Rebuilding your strength and restoring your endurance is a huge part in the post-operative recovery process. That’s why it’s extremely important to complete your assigned at-home physical therapy exercises to ensure a successful recovery. 


2. Keep moving! 


Exercise does not necessarily mean going to the gym or lifting weights. Activities such as gardening, cooking, cleaning, and the like can all count towards a daily exercise routine. Getting back to these types of activities is important in preventing joint stiffness and improving the overall result of an orthopedic surgery


3. Don’t overdo it. 


Too much exercise can have a negative effect on your post-operative recovery. If you overdo it by participating in strenuous activities, it can easily lead to re-injury. So always consult your doctor before starting any exercise. (Trust us, your doctors know what they’re doing!)

It is very important to stay active after orthopedic surgery. Following post-operative therapy instructions and completing therapy exercises daily can be the largest determining factor in a patient’s recovery time and outcome. So, the next time you are tempted to skip out on your therapy exercises, just remember, if you rest, you rust.