One of the most frequent questions about surgery aftercare for most people is how quickly they can get back to normal activities, including sports and exercise.
The type of surgery and the size/depth of your wound will determine how quickly you return normal activities. Some people report that they were back in the gym within two weeks, others waited two months. Those youngest and healthiest will heal quickest; some teenage Pilonidal patients are back on the football field within a month after surgery.
The most important thing is to listen to your body and stop when you feel discomfort or pain. No pain, no gain might be your motto at the gym, but not when you’re healing from surgery.
What You Should Do
Engage in regular movement and stretching. Once you are through the first week, moving around will be less challenging but you certainly don’t want to over stress your healing body by giving it more things to heal. Physical activity is GOOD FOR YOU! It keeps your mind active and your heart pumping oxygen into healing tissues. It also improves your outlook on life and helps you through post-surgical depression (which is common after any kind of surgery).
Heavy weightlifting and other activities like running and jumping that tear your muscle tissues, which the body then has to heal in addition to healing the surgical wound.
What I Did After My Surgery
I waited until about 3 weeks into healing before starting yoga and bike riding. I started riding about 30 minutes a day and added 10 minutes a week until I was back up to a full hour. What I do not recommend is bike riding on those flat granny seats on gym bikes. You need a quality bicycle saddle that is designed to keep pressure off the tailbone. If you can sit back and read the paper on the bike, the seat is no good for a Pilonidal sufferer….
Really, we can’t think of a better thing for a recovering Pilonidal patient than Yoga. There are plenty of beginner videos on You Tube. We link to some of them below. Yoga will help you regain/retain flexibility and relieve some of the muscle soreness that comes with a major change in body movement for a recovering surgical patient. It will also help stretch your surgical area to prevent splitting as your scar goes into final healing.
- Swimming – the official line on this is NO for pools and/or lakes (icky things in the water + open wound = infection) and POSSIBLY for ocean. If you have an open wound, be smart. Salt water is good for wounds, but how clean is the water at your beach, really? We’ve heard some doctors give the green light for ocean swimming and some say to not risk it. The one thing all agree on is NO POOLS.
- Football – this sport can be high impact on the tailbone, be cautious and do not resume until you are fully healed.
- Intimacy – most people usually wait for about two weeks before resuming intimate relations. It is up to you and your partner to figure out which positions work best since it depends an awful lot on where exactly your wound is located.
- Horseback Riding – this one is tough for Pilonidal sufferers since the pounding pressure of riding is a bad combination with a Pilonidal. Every year we hear from a few teenage girls who ride competitively and are dealing with Pilonidals. Your doctor will probably say no riding until healing is complete. After that, you may want to look into specialized cushions and Seat Mapping.
“Also, for those who cannot find relief with the cushions on the market, I found out that there is something called seat mapping system that some rehabilitation centers are using to help determine the best type of cushion to use for pressure relief for people with various disabilities. The centers have various samples of cushion materials (air, gel, closed cell, open cell) that could be tried over your chair, car seat or other place and the computer reads out how much pressure is present and exactly where it is over the buttock region. From the readouts they make alterations in the cushion, try another material, or/and change your position to relieve the pressure over the painful or delicate area. These professionals suggest and can customize cushions if necessary to relieve pressure. A prescription is needed for the evaluation . We used it to determine which seat cushion was best for my daughter to use on her saddle while resuming her horse back riding.” (Courtesy of message poster Mary)
The main overview page for our Surgery Aftercare section where you’ll learn all about wound care and healing after surgery.
Dressings provide a barrier to keep the wound moist and protected. They can be as simple as basic gauze or seriously hi-tech.
An overview of the science of wound healing and introduction to the basics of Pilonidal surgical wounds and how they are treated.
This page last updated: January 5, 2019