You head into an elective surgery with BIG hopes. No matter whether it’s mending a joint, fixing your back, patching up an old injury, or clearing up a heart issue, you expect to emerge stronger and better.
Then it happens. You have the surgery, but it turns out you’re NOT stronger and better when you leave the hospital.
In fact, you’re weaker and slower than when you went in. Maybe you’re even struggling just to stand up.
That weakness is a surgery “side effect” they won’t warn you about. You see, it’s not just the cutting you open or heavy-duty meds that can have you limping along for weeks or even months after surgery.
The “bed rest” after the procedure can knock you for a loop too. In fact, new research reveals how even just a few days of hospital recovery can have a devastating impact on your muscle.
But you don’t have to let a scheduled surgery knock you out of the game. You can make a move TODAY to protect and preserve your strength all the way through surgery AND recovery.
Bed rest can steal FIVE years off your muscles
Remember how it feels to get up out of your seat after a long flight? It’s like someone has replaced your legs with sacks of jelly.
And that’s after just a few hours of being confined to your seat. Days of “bed rest” in a hospital (or at home, for that matter) is a whole other beast. And it’s one that can leave you significantly weaker and slower.
The new study reveals that even just five days of bed rest can cause so much muscle to melt away that it’s equivalent to the damage of FIVE YEARS of aging. And that can set your recovery back weeks, months, or even longer.
Scientists tested out the standard mainstream bed-rest advice in a pretty unique way. They had volunteers do the usual pre-surgery leg exercises your doctor recommends, but in one leg only. The recruits did weight-based exercises four times over the course of a week.
They were then sent to bed for five days, simulating a standard hospital recovery period for seniors after common elective surgeries. And the results were disturbing.
After those five days, the volunteers had lost the SAME amount of muscle – about 3-4 percent – in both legs. In other words, those four exercise sessions didn’t help one bit.
Dodge devastating muscle loss after surgery
But those results don’t mean you’re doomed to the same outcome after YOUR next surgery. You CAN fight the muscle loss and bounce back faster. You simply need to have a better plan.
First, concentrate on eating more protein-packed foods. Seniors often fall short anyway. In fact, one in three may not be getting enough protein. (Click here to discover five warning signs you’re one of them.) You need plenty of protein even in “normal” times, but you especially need it before and after surgery.
Second, don’t just do four days of leg exercises to build up your strength. Get started as soon as you know there’s surgery in your future. But don’t stop your regular exercise routine either. Combine the two instead.
The more active you are leading up to your surgery, the better your recovery will be. A brisk daily walk, or a stretching routine at home if the weather is bad, along with some leg-muscle building exercises, should do the trick.
Third, during the “bed rest” recovery period after surgery, make sure you get up and walk around as soon as it’s safe to do so. Pester the nurses and techs for help if you have to.
And fourth, don’t let up when you get back home. Keep up with your protein and approved daily activity. The more you move, the less muscle you will lose. Plus, getting up and on your feet as often as you safely can will help you regain the muscle mass you’ve lost already.