Gentle Exercise While Healing a Wound

Gentle Exercise While Healing a Wound

The psycho-social aspects for those afflicted with wounds easily match the physical issues regardless of whether the wound is a recent event or is chronic.

Physical limitations are often apparent, as wounds can reveal obvious changes to injured skin.  Pain and odor are sometimes a factor. Physical activity may disrupt the healing process and further delay healing.  The simple act of taking a few steps can pose issues, while immobility can create even more problems. Conversely, in the individual who regularly exercises and must cease due to a health condition or open wound, frustration and depression can ensue.  

Healing takes time and patience, and when things do not proceed according to our personal timetables, frustration, social isolation and depression can occur.

The benefits of exercise are endless and include improved physical and psychological well-being.  Exercising while dealing with a wound can pose its own challenges, but the benefits of gentle exercise ought to outweigh any excuses.

The human body is an engineering miracle on countless levels.  One thing is certain: it requires some physical stimulation and activity to thrive.  Therefore, though the presence of a wound may pose specific limitations when exercising that is no reason to become sedentary.  Exercise enhances circulation and the delivery of oxygen throughout the body, and where lower extremity wounds are present, may also assist in reducing swelling - another obstacle present in open wounds. 

Low impact, non-weight bearing exercise that can be done at home can provide similar benefits to those attained in a gym.  Among such methods are walking, dumbbells and resistance bands, yoga, Pilates, tai chi and gym equipment. The Total Gym, which can be used at home, requires only the individual’s body weight for resistance.  

The point that exercising at home can be advantageous does not mean that a gym membership is discouraged.  On the contrary, most gym equipment is low impact and had its origins in the physical therapy and rehabilitation professions. Additionally, supervised exercise has been proven to be more beneficial than unsupervised, and most reputable gyms offer instruction and personal training services. 

As long as a wound is not located on the foot, walking remains the simplest way to exercise and there is no cost involved!  Treadmills or stair climbers eliminate the excuse of weather, but there is still nothing like a brisk walk, or a gentle stroll on a beautiful day. 

Regular resistance training increases strength and cardiovascular stamina.  Light dumbbells (2-5 pounds) and resistance bands are simple to use and if weight bearing is not an option, can be performed while seated or even in bed.  If dumbbells and resistance bands are not readily available, basic exercises such as planking, push-ups or abdominal core building are simple and can be modified for every level of fitness.

Other options for those who may be concerned about their ability to exercise include static stretching, yoga, Pilates or tai chi.  Besides improved strength and endurance, each of these methods can improve balance and thus the risk of falling.   

Excuses are just a noisy way of not doing something!  In most cases, exercise will benefit wound healing, and using a wound as a reason to not exercise may be an excuse that like most, will provide no benefit.  Discuss exercise with your provider before starting or resuming an exercise regimen, but remember, a body in motion tends to stay in motion.  Keep your body moving and on its way to healing!