The Southeastern Spine Institute

You put your health in the hands of capable, experienced and highly gifted surgeons at the Southeastern Spine Institute. But what happens after your back surgery is just as important for determining your future.

Exercise and physical therapy are required during your recovery period. If you start pushing yourself too quickly, though, you could end up with a relapse — or even worse, an injury that requires another surgery. Listen to your surgeon and follow his directions.

Become Part of the Solution

No one, especially your back surgeon, will tell you to stay in bed after surgery. In fact, you’ll likely receive instructions to stick to a walking schedule and other regular exercises. Your physical therapist will target the area of your body affected by the back surgery and develop an exercise regimen for you to follow during your recovery.

At the beginning of your recovery:

  • Ask your doctor for physical activity instructions.
  • Follow his recommendations to the letter.
  • Talk to your physical therapist about your previous running schedule.
  • Let your therapist know that you want to return to running.
  • Remain patient as you follow the prescribed protocol for your individual recovery.

Be honest with your doctor and your therapist about your pain levels. Discuss how each new activity feels. Following some types of back surgery, such as a fusion procedure, you may find some activities that your body doesn’t allow you to perform at all. Usually, your body just needs time to build up to your previous activity levels.

Step by Step, Back to the Track

After you receive your marching orders, take a few extra, precautionary steps before you can even think of resuming your running routine. Your therapist will check your posture to make sure the cause of your surgery — as well as the after effects of the procedure — haven’t put your spine out of alignment.

You’ll be given a set of muscular stretches and exercises aimed at strengthening your muscles. You must support your back once you return to a heavier workout of any kind, including running. Exercises that often can help prepare your body after back surgery include:

  • Yoga
  • Light aerobics
  • Weight lifting
  • Walking

The Time Will Come

Soon enough, you’ll leave your back surgery woes in the dust. Some common recovery time periods are:

  • Seven to 10 days for a large incision to heal
  • A few weeks for the pain to dissipate after a discectomy
  • Three to four months after a laminectomy
  • Up to nine months before bones heal following fusion surgery

Ultimately, you can start running again when your doctor and physical therapist say you can. While you wait, continue to follow your exercise and activity instructions and take precautions to prevent further damage. Other factors that can delay your return to the track include:

  • Your fitness level prior to surgery
  • How much you ran before you had back surgery
  • How much pain you are still feeling
  • Your mental attitude and motivation

If you believe that you’ll run again and remain motivated to do all the right things prescribed by your doctor, then you’ll eventually feel the breeze in your face again. Inspiring examples of runners with debilitating back pain who underwent back surgery and ended up running marathons within a year are abundant. You can be one of them.