With advances in surgical options and in medical care overall, many people take surgical recovery as a given. But the patient plays an important role in this aspect of care.
What you do before and after your surgery has a tremendous impact on the quality of your recovery. We’re offering this checklist for surgery: rehabbing like a pro athlete, to support people who are preparing for surgery and as a general advisory to encourage a more active role for patients.
How do they do it?
Professional athletes may seem superhuman. They’re built for speed and endurance. But because they’re paid to be that way, they do everything in their power to speed their rehabilitation and return to work.
So, you’re not a pro athlete, but you want to rehab like one? Then you need you think of your body as your way of having a life. Recovery can be expedited when you take the same attitude toward the intrinsic value of your body as a professional athlete does.
Going into surgery, professional athletes prepare themselves mentally. They go into the operating theater expecting to win – just as they do when they go on the court, field or rink. Following surgery, they immediately attend to physical rehabilitation. They don’t feel sorry for themselves. They just get going.
Here are some key ways they approach rehab:
- Self-care prior to surgery includes massaging muscle groups which will be implicated in surgery. This assists circulation, so that muscles are prepared. Flexibility is also addressed. Healthy muscles make the surgeon’s job easier.
- Recuperative guidance from the medical team is written in stone. Professional athletes follow recovery protocols to the letter, unless otherwise advised by the attending surgeon.
- Recovery aids like ice packs are in the fridge, ready to go, so there’s nothing to do but recover.
- A list of fitness goals is prepared ahead of surgery, so the athlete can clearly see the path forward and start meeting goals right away.
- Athletes can get restless in the days following surgery, so it’s important that they have mental stimulation at this early stage of recovery. Reading and other activities can really help.
- Nutritious eating and mindful hydration prepare the body for surgery and support an expeditious recovery.
Be smart. Rehab like a pro athlete.
One more thing (deserving of its own section) – quit smoking. Pro athletes don’t smoke! Neither should you, in the run up to surgery and during the recovery period. Basically, I’m telling you to quit smoking.
Smoking constricts blood vessels and inhibits the free flow of blood required to heal. It’s a no-brainer. Do whatever you need to, but stop smoking.
You’ll feel better and heal better.
Central Texas Spine Institute.
Dr. Randall F. Dryer is an award-winning spine surgeon, leading the team here at CTSI. He’s also a pioneering innovator in the deployment of stem cell therapy. He’s been named one of the top 100 surgeons in the USA by Becker’s Spine.
CTSI is one of the leading spine centers in the nation. Contact us to request an appointment.