Spine surgery based on an accurate diagnosis has the potential to boost your quality of life as you get back to your normal activity levels. But don’t expect to instantly accomplish this goal after having a spine-related procedure. During the recovery process, you’ll need to make an effort to improve your spine’s flexibility so you can safely become more active and mobile. Doing so also reduces possible issues with post-surgery scar tissue that can affect range of motion. Here are four specific tips for increasing spinal flexibility post-surgery.
Stretching targets specific areas of the spine and supporting muscle groups. It can also be an effective way to increase spinal flexibility, since specific directions and movements can be emphasized with different stretches. Regular stretching following surgery also keeps spine-supporting muscles from becoming stiff. One way to stretch in a more controlled and relaxed way is with yoga-based stretches.
Once your wound site has healed, a gentle way to reap the rewards of exercise after surgery is to get in the water. Aquatic exercises provide natural resistance from the water and enough stimulation to increase spinal flexibility. Water-based exercises also target the muscles that provide direct and indirect support to the spine, which can further boost coordination, stability, and range of motion.
Massage therapy is a passive technique that’s often most effective when combined with active therapeutic exercises and other recovery methods. However, it can restore flexibility after surgery by breaking up scar tissue before it becomes thick enough to affect movement. A technique often used during massage therapy sessions is lymphatic drainage, a method that boosts lymph node activity to increase the flow of nutrients to the spine, which helps with the healing process in a way that could improve spinal flexibility.
Watching what you eat and drinking more water are two things that can indirectly boost your spine’s flexibility. For instance, healthy eating is a smart way to keep your weight in check and reduce the risk of placing extra stress on your healing spine. Drinking more water helps with flexibility by boosting circulation and helping a post-surgery spine heal well.
Healthy eating and sufficient hydration can also minimize inflammation around the spine and its healing parts, which further increases optimal flexibility. With water, aim for about eight 8-ounce glasses per day (64 ounces total). With what you eat, spine-friendly options—some of which have natural inflammation-fighting properties—include:
• Green leafy vegetables
• Fresh fruits, especially brightly colored ones
• Salmon, mackerel, and other fatty fish
• Lean proteins and low-fat dairy products
Before attempting to perform any type of exercise following spine surgery, get approval from your doctor or a Beverly Hills spine surgeon. Also, don’t stop paying attention to spinal flexibility even after you see improvements and get back to your normal routine. A healthy spine needs to remain flexible now and later in life—a goal that’s often easier to achieve with regular exercise and stretching, sufficient hydration, and healthy eating habits.
If you’re living with chronic back pain, get in touch with The Spine Institute to find out if you might need a surgical procedure to alleviate your discomfort. We specialize in a wide array of fusion procedures and spinal fusion alternatives. Beverly Hills patients should call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an in-person evaluation.