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Heart Surgery

Recovery exercises

The exercises below will help you feel less stiff, have better circulation, and get back your full range of motion after heart surgery.

Start the exercises early after surgery and keep doing them for the next 6 weeks.

Do the exercises 2 times a day at a slow and comfortable pace. Start with 2 repetitions and progress to 10 as you feel able.

These exercises are designed not to hurt your incision. But you may feel a slight stretch. Stop if you feel pain. Never hold your breath, bear down, or st​rain while doing these exercises.

Neck flexion

  1. Sit with your hands in your lap. Keep your back straight.
  2. Bend your head forward and bring your chin to your chest and then back to a neutral position.

Neck rotation​​

  1. Turn your head to look over your left shoulder.
  2. Return to looking forward.
  3. Turn your head to look over your right shoulder.

Shoulder rolls

  1. Bring your shoulders up.
  2. Roll them backward slowly and gently.

Shoulder retraction

  1. Keep your back straight and upright.
  2. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the back.​

Arm raises

  1. Keep your elbows and arms close to your torso.
  2. Raise both arms together.​

Trunk rotation

  1. Cross your arms over your chest.
  2. Turn and rotate your trunk to 1 side and then the other in a pain-free range of motion.​

Trunk side bends

  1. Cross your arms over your chest.
  2. ​Lean to 1 side and then the other, feeling a gentle stretch through your rib cage.

Ankle pumping

  1. Sit straight in a chair with 1 leg out in front of you.
  2. Bring your toes upward and slowly point forward.
  3. Repeat for your other leg.​​​​

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