The Southeastern Spine Institute

Recovery from back surgery progresses differently for everyone. And yet, you share many aspects of back surgery recovery with others:

  • Your body needs time for damaged tissue to heal.
  • In time, you will return to normal activities.
  • Time for recovery is a necessary part of rebuilding your strength.
  • A positive attitude toward your recovery will help speed it up.

The rate of your recovery from back surgery depends on a variety of factors that include:

  • The type of surgery you had
  • The state of your health prior to the surgery
  • Your general fitness level
  • Your muscle strength
  • How bad your symptoms were before you underwent the procedure
  • Your age

Basic Recovery Advice

Follow the advice of your doctor as you begin your recovery from back surgery, both in the hospital and at home. One of your doctor’s prescriptions will be a set of appropriate rehabilitation exercises aimed at getting you back to normal. Following those instructions can make all the difference in how quickly your recovery takes place.

In addition to getting you moving and healing, exercise has the added benefit of fostering an overall feeling of well-being. The release of endorphins, coupled with increased circulation, enhances your mood while healing your body.

Walking It Off

Your doctor and rehabilitation specialist will encourage you to begin a progressive walking program as soon as possible after your surgery. In addition to preventing muscle atrophy, walking helps you prevent blood clots from developing. Walking also helps get your bowels moving regularly again. Do as much walking as you can without putting undue stress on your body. Use a conservative approach.

While you are still in the hospital after surgery, you may be encouraged to walk once you are able. Do one lap around your ward three to six times a day. By day four, back at home, you should be walking for five full minutes, up to six times a day. Increase that to 10 minutes, three or four times a day, by week two, and up to 15 minutes by week three.

By the sixth week following your surgery, you should be walking for 30 minutes twice a day. And that’s a good habit to continue even when you’re fully recovered.

Benefits for Recovery from Back Surgery

Remaining active aids your successful recovery from back surgery. At the same time, you need to take care not to reinjure your back by overdoing it. Wear comfortable and safe shoes that provide sufficient support. Walk at a comfortable pace and avoid hills and stairs for the first few weeks. You’ll notice the results quickly if you follow the instructions of your doctor and rehabilitative specialist. Benefits may include:

  • Improved muscle strength
  • Less stress
  • Better mood
  • Regular bowel activity
  • Easier breathing
  • Healthy weight loss (if needed)
  • Improved posture
  • Better balance

Walking is a low-load activity, ideal for most people during their recovery from back surgery. It is the least harmful to your back, does not require any special equipment and provides the most benefits compared to other forms of exercise. Eventually, you’ll be able to return to your regular fitness regimen. By that time, you may appreciate the benefits of walking so much that you make it an integral part of your healthy lifestyle.