Gaining strength is one of the first things people want to focus on after surgery or when first starting an exercise program. While this is an important area to work on, don’t be too quick to start pumping iron until you make sure you have full range of motion around the joint your are trying to strengthen. In fact- think opposites. Let’s say you had reconstructive breast surgery and you want to regain your strength. You are probably feeling tight in the chest and weak in the arms from the surgery and postural changes.
Before you even contemplate lifting a weight you need to lengthen the muscles that are shortened and tight and strengthen the opposite muscles that are most likely weakened and overstretched. There are few benefits to trying to get stronger in an area that you have limited range of motion in. In fact, you could potentially be setting yourself up for a muscle imbalance leading to further problems down the line.
If you are unsure if you have normal range of motion -ask yourself this simple question- do I feel tight or stiff in the area I want to work? If the answer is yes – take some time to focus on opening up the area with good stretches prior to lifting any weights. It will pay off in the long run.