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Definition of Contraindicated Exercises

author image Melissa Sabo
Melissa Sabo is an occupational therapist who started writing professional guidebooks for all Flagship Rehabilitation employees in 2009. Specializing in applied therapy and exercise for non-medical readers, she also coauthored a manual on wheelchair positioning. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Science in occupational therapy.
Definition of Contraindicated Exercises
A woman is training with light weight dumbbells. Photo Credit Eyecandy Images/Eyecandy Images/Getty Images

Exercise contributes to increased overall health, but some activities may be contraindicated for you. Contraindicated exercises are ones that would be detrimental to your health and physical well-being. They can stem from a variety of causes and limitations. Compliance with your doctor’s or therapist’s recommendation is vital to your recovery and continued health. Performing contraindicated exercises can result in renewed injury, prolonged recovery, chronic pain or death.

Cardiac Limitations

Many cardiac patients, including those who have suffered a heart attack or had heart valve replacement or coronary artery bypass surgery, have significant limitations on their therapy. Your inpatient rehabilitation and subsequent outpatient therapy will focus on cardiac rehabilitation, which is the gradual sequential increase of time and intensity of exercise to strengthen your heart without causing it stress. In some severe cases, patients can only perform 10 seconds of range-of-motion exercise at a time.

Cardiac Rehabilitation

As you progress, your therapist will introduce additional exercise strain in accordance with your cardiac physician’s recommendations. Refrain from any activity or exercise that increases your heart rate more than 20 beats per minute until fully cleared for all activity by your physician. Shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, chest pain, paleness or a faint feeling indicate the need for you to discontinue activity and rest until you have recovered. Noncompliance with these precautions and your therapist’s recommendations can result in another cardiac event or death.

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Range of Motion

Range of motion is often restricted after fracture, surgery or rupture of tendons, muscles or ligaments. Your orthopedic doctor should clearly specify the restraints she has placed on your range of motion. Your therapist will educate you on the proper way to conduct your range of motion and how to adapt functional activities to maintain compliance with range-of-motion limitations. Nonadherence to range-of-motion exercise limitations can result in a recurrence of fracture, rupture or surgery.

Weight Bearing

The ability to exercise on an affected limb can be severely restricted if your weight-bearing ability is limited. If your limb is non-weight-bearing, you are not allowed even to move your arm or your leg; it may be immobilized by placement in a sling or a cast. Once you are allowed partial weight-bearing activity, you may begin light weighted exercises, generally with only 5 lb. of weight or resistance. Performing exercises that are not in compliance with your weight-bearing limitations prolong your recovery and often prolong the recommended course of limited weight bearing. For many, limited weight bearing results in further inpatient stay and is the most common barrier to an orthopedic patient returning home.

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