Reducing Undue Pressure on Your Joints After a Bariatric Procedure

Man has knee pain walking on concrete surface as he exercises for weight loss after bariatric surgery

You may have heard every pound of additional excess bodyweight places 4 to 7 pounds of strain on your joints. For someone who is obese, say over 100 pounds over their ideal weight, they are putting an inordinate amount of pressure on their joints, which naturally leads them to break down more quickly and sooner in life. This degradation of the joints is known as osteoarthritis, and it is one of the most common ailments patients experience as a direct result of their obesity.

Naturally, as patients begin to lose weight, the strain on their joints also begins to lighten. They may start to feel more active and maybe even become pain-free. However, it is essential to note that whatever damage has been done to the joints cannot be reversed. The postoperative training program must include exercises that do not place excessive pressure on the joints. These are known as low or no-impact exercises.

Which Exercises Are Best?

You may be surprised to know that some exercises that seem relatively benign can be pretty harmful to your joints. If you ask your orthopedic surgeon what exercises to avoid, they will probably tell you that anything on a hard surface, with no give, is problematic. That includes walking, jogging, jumping jacks, and jump rope on concrete or similar surfaces. Contact sports are a recipe for an injury, especially as we get older. But what can you do?

Some of the best no- or low-impact exercises include biking – outdoor or stationary, swimming, elliptical, and weight training. While each of these can still lead to injuries, the likelihood of joint issues is significantly diminished because the body is not being over-stressed with impact.

But say you love running or walking, and you want to incorporate them into your daily activity. First, consider waiting until you have lost a significant amount of weight and are getting close to your ideal or goal weight. Having lost those extra pounds further reduces the strain on your joints. You can alternately consider walking or jogging on a softer surface. Well-padded astroturf or track material may be an option; soft grass could work or even take your exercise to the beach. Soft sand is readily available in our area, cushioning the impact and making for a very productive workout. Just try taking a long jog on the beach. It’s a good workout!

After bariatric surgery, part of the health renewal you’ll enjoy requires an eye to better bone and joint health. Improving diet and supplementation is not enough. It would help if you exercised in a way that minimizes the risk of an injury that will derail your progress.

Of course, if you have any questions about the postoperative process, we encourage you to contact our office or get some advice from support group buddies or those who have been there before. We look forward to seeing your progress as you lose weight and feel better!

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