As the premier hand and wrist surgery experts in St. George, Utah Dr. Dirk Slade and Dr. Zachary Jager have seen every kind of hand and wrist injury. From sports injuries to carpal tunnel syndrome to cysts, we employ a variety of nonsurgical and surgical treatment options to help our patients get back to living pain-free and doing what they love.

But while every patient is eager to get back to normal post-surgery, it’s important to give yourself time to recover. If you’re someone who loves to hit the gym, this might mean mixing up your workouts, modifying some exercises, or even avoiding some altogether. Keep reading as we cover some tips for getting back in the gym following a hand or wrist injury.

Talk to Your Doctor First

Before you ever hit the gym following surgery for a hand or wrist injury, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Before surgery, your hand and wrist surgeon will help you to understand any restrictions you may have following your surgery. This might include weight restrictions, which would make weightlifting right away a big mistake. Depending on the type of surgery or any complications that you may have faced, your hand and wrist surgeon may even suggest avoiding cardio for a certain time period following your procedure.

Failure to follow any restrictions set by your surgeon or doctor is a big mistake. You could risk re-injuring your hand or wrist, cause your recovery time to be extended, or even cause additional damage. If it’s important to you that you get active again following your surgery, talk to your hand and wrist surgeon about exercises that you can safely do while you recover, and ask when you can get back to the gym.

Another thing that you can do is follow any rehabilitation requirements or guidelines that your surgeon provides. This can help ensure that your hand or wrist heals properly and as quickly as possible so that you can get back to doing what you love sooner!

Rethink Your Workout

After talking to your doctor, the next thing that you should do is make a plan for what you’ll do at the gym. The workouts that you enjoyed before your surgery might not be something that you can get back to right away. Besides possibly needing to skip certain workouts because of any restrictions from your doctor, you might not be physically capable of the same workouts that you were pre-surgery. In the case of a hand or wrist injury, you might find that you can’t lift the same weight or achieve the same yoga poses that you could before your procedure.

Before you start your workout, take some time to rethink what that workout will look like. Find alternative exercises or modifications that you can use while you’re still healing. If you work out at a gym, consider talking to a personal trainer. They may be able to offer some suggestions for alternative exercises you can try, and help you to learn how to do them safely. The last thing that you want to do is wind up with another injury while you’re still recovering from the last one!

Start Small

Following any kind of surgery, it’s normal to feel fatigued or weak. Even after a minor procedure, you might find that you get tired faster when working out for a few days or more. Your affected hand or wrist may feel weak or your grip may be affected for longer than that.

When you do get back to the gym, start small. If you’re weight lifting, start with less than you think you can handle, and then work your way up to heavier weights. Give your body time to heal, and be gentle with yourself.

Utilize Different Equipment

If you’ve suffered a hand or wrist injury, your doctor will likely suggest avoiding weight lifting for a period after your surgery. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t work out. You may even be able to use other equipment to get a great workout without picking up a dumbbell.

Resistance bands are one great option. They can help make your workout more challenging, but without requiring you to lift a heavy weight. Even kettlebells may offer a good alternative to dumbbells post-surgery. They are often easier to grip for those who are still working to regain their grip strength post-surgery.

Focus on Grip Strength

It’s normal to lose grip strength following many different types of hand or wrist injuries, and the surgeries used to correct them. Even if you can’t get right back to the gym, this is a great time to work on regaining your grip strength. There are a variety of exercises that you can use to strengthen your hands’ grip at home.

Consider Imbalances

Many athletes, artists, and anyone who works with their hands tend to have a “dominant” side. As a result, you may use one hand or wrist more often than the other. If you injure your hand or wrist on your dominant side, your recovery time can be a great chance to strengthen your non-dominant side. This may even help you to avoid injuries in the future.

Keep in mind that after you’ve recovered, you’ll likely need to rebuild your strength on your injured side as well. 

Get Your Diet in Order

If your hand and wrist surgeon suggests that you wait to get back to exercising, why not use this time to work on your health from the inside out? A healthy body starts with a healthy diet. Getting your diet in order and fueling your body the right way can not only aid in your recovery but can also help you build strength faster when you can return to the gym.

Listen to Your Body

The most important thing that you can do when getting back to the gym post-surgery is to listen to your body. Even after your surgeon clears you to get back to doing what you love, it’s important to remember that recovery takes time. Just because you are allowed to do certain exercises doesn’t mean that you’ll be physically capable of them just yet. 

Modify your exercises if you find that they are painful or too difficult. Let yourself take more breaks or give your body more time to recover before you try taking on more challenging exercises.

Getting Back to the Gum After a Hand or Wrist Injury

If you’ve suffered from a hand or wrist injury, you likely won’t be able to get back to your normal workout routine right away. But with these tips, you can get back to the gym without risking re-injuring yourself or suffering from a new hand or wrist injury.

Is pain in your hand, wrist, or elbow keeping you from achieving your fitness goals in 2023? Our St George hand and wrist injury experts can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.