Building the Chest and Back Muscles after Heart Surgery

Following bypass surgery, rebuilding the chest and back muscles are vital to successful long-term recovery. After three months or more of recovery time with minimal physical exertion, muscle mass begins to decrease. The best way to rebuild this muscle mass is by engaging in a carefully-planned, consistent exercise regime. Once your physician has approved physical activity and lifted weight restrictions, the most important thing to recovery is to start slow. Here is a comprehensive guide to building chest and back muscles after heart surgery.
How to build chest and back muscles after heart surgery

Photo courtesy of Casa Velas Hotel

Understanding Your Muscles

First, it helps to have a basic understanding of how your muscles work. Your back and chest muscles can be likened to a pulley system, with one muscle group shortening as the other lengthens. Thus, the muscles of the chest and back balance each other out, meaning that strengthening the chest muscles will work to lengthen the muscles of the back (and vice versa). If you only focus on working your chest, you may be setting yourself up for shoulder, neck, and back problems in the future. To get a balanced work-out, you can use free weights, dumbbells, bands, or even your body-weight (as in push-ups and pull-ups).

Gradual Exercise

Don’t hesitate to use 10 lb (or even lighter) weights when you get started. Your first few work-out sessions after surgery, it is crucial to start off easy. If you’re experiencing days of sore muscle pain after your first day of lifting, you’ve probably exerted yourself too hard. You should be able to tell you worked out, but intense discomfort suggests you’ve used too much weight or tried to do too many repetitions. Remember, your recovery period after surgery can be as long as one year.

Tried and True Exercises

There are a few important concerns for any weight-lifting movement: You need to breathe in a controlled manner, exhaling under exertion. It’s also important to do the moves in a slow, concentrated effort, using weights that provide a challenge but do not induce overstraining. Early on, you want to focus on higher reps and lower weight. Beyond that, here’s a few exercises you can use to rebuild your chest and back muscles after surgery.

  • Dumb-bell press
  • Dumb-bell fly
  • Push-ups
  • Upright Row
  • Standing Fly

Talk with your physical therapist about a post heart surgery regimen that is right for you.

If your physician is recommending heart surgery, contact Cardiovascular Surgery of Southern Nevada today at (702) 737-3808 to discuss your options with a board certified heart surgeon.

Featured image courtesy of pippalou
Leave a reply