Monday, March 6, 2017

Running after laparoscopic abdominal surgery

I like posting on the blog to help out someone now or in the future who might have the need for some past experience I've had, if not my wisdom.

The following is a journal of my return to activity from walking to running following my laproscopic right hemicolectomy.

I hope this post is of interest/use to someone coming back from similar surgery. Please check with your doctor about these things and remember the internet can't be sued for malpractice. And don't do anything if you feel any pain or discomfort - err on the side of caution. And this is no worse than listening to message boards.

I had surgery on Thursday February 2nd. You can see that day was the last time I cleared 1000 steps in a day for the next four days.

My surgeon gave me permission to start walking immediately, with no restrictions on the amount except for the amount of fatigue I felt. He asked I refrain from using aerobic equipment at the gym for two weeks post-surgery, and running for six weeks post surgery. Weightlifting is also not recommended. The worry is that excess straining from too much abdominal impact could create post-surgical hernias at the wound sites.

Honestly, not running for an extended period was the least of my worries when I went in for surgery. I was lucky to have an uncomplicated surgery and no need for post-surgical treatment, so after surgery, I did start counting the days till I could return to exercise activities. 

After four days of near total rest, I started to move around the house (and take walks outside. On day 5 - Tuesday February 7 - I hit 1342 steps. By day 9 - Saturday February 11th - I passed 5000 steps in a day.

By day 14, I was getting eager to do more and more. At day 16 after surgery - I felt strong enough to hit 10000+ steps -- my pre-surgery normal step goal.

The following week, on day 21 after my surgery and after my 3 week post-op visit, I returned to the gym. I started on the treadmill at a moderate pace (3.5 mph) and a 10% incline to get my HR up to aerobic training levels. I felt a little soreness during one session on day 22, slowed it down, but felt fine the next day (day 23). That day, I did a fast walk with a couple of little light jogs over 1.5 miles on day 24 and felt fine the following morning, returning to the gym for the following six days.  

I made it over a month without running! On March 4th, the 30th day, I returned to light outdoor running at a pace of around 10 min/mi, with no discomfort. I returned to running about 12 days sooner than recommended, but the amount of force I exerted on my abdominal muscles using the elliptical machine felt greater than the impact from gentle running. Perhaps not smart, certainly extremely impatient, but judging from this other post which says jogging is generally ok after four weeks, another says two to three weeks of no activity that causes straining, pulling, pushing or jumping after laproscopic abdominal surgery, so not completely out of line.

I plan on keeping my effort light through week six just to make sure, but am confident that my insides are holding up fine.