How to Heal Faster After a Surgery | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

9 Tips to Recover from Surgery Faster

March 2, 2013 | Z Altug

Must See Sports Injuries Videos

If you're currently recovering from athletic surgery, you're probably itching to get past rehab and back to playing your sport. Following your doctor's orders and waiting for the healing hands of nature to work their magic are fine. But there are other things you can be doing—and not doing—to speed up the healing process. The following are simple tips to get you back in the game faster:

Don't

  • Smoke. A study showed that smokers had less improvement after lumbar stenosis surgery than non-smokers (Sanden et al., 2011). If healing was better after back surgery, there is huge chance it'll be better after other types of surgery. (See YOU Docs: Q&A on Overcoming a Tobacco Addiction.)
  • Drink. Alcohol delays healing of bone and soft tissue like tendons and muscles (Jung et al., 2011). So it's best to wait until you are completely healed after your surgery or injury before even considering drinking alcohol, even in moderation. (Read these Alcohol Basics for Athletes.)
  • Stress out. Studies have shown that controlling acute and chronic stress can have a positive effect on healing (Altemus et al., 2001, Glaser et al., 1999, Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 1995). (See Just Relax: Simple Sport Psychology Techniques to Help You Cope With Stress.)

Do

  • Control your anger. Controlling and managing anger can have a positive effect on wound healing (Gouin et al., 2008).
  • Eat healthy. Eat a well-balanced diet before and after surgery to get optimal healing (Kratzing, 2011).
  • Get enough vitamin D. See your doctor and get your vitamin D level checked; it may help optimize recovery after injury (Stratos et al., 2012).
  • Listen to your favorite music. Music therapy has been shown to reduce pain and anxiety (Nilsson, 2008); music may also help you heal faster.
  • Try Tai Chi. Performing Tai Chi may help boost your immune system (Burke et al., 2007). (Check out Try These Three “Ancient” Exercises to Boost Your Modern-Day Game.)
  • Visualize and meditate. Visualization and meditation have been used to improve athletic performance. You can also use it before and after surgery to heal faster and to reduce pain and anxiety (Huddleston, 1996). For more information, check out www.healfaster.com.

Sources

ltemus M, Rao B, Dhabhar FS, et al.  Stress-induced changes in skin barrier function in healthy women. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 2001;117(2):309-317.

  • Burke DT, Al-Adawi S, Lee YT, et al. Martial arts as sport and therapy. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 2007;47(1):96-102.
  • Glaser R, Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Marucha PT, et al. Stress-related changes in proinflammatory cytokine production in wounds. Archives of General Psychiatry. 1999;56(5):450-456.
  • Gouin JP, Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Malarkey WB, et al.  The influence of anger expression on wound healing.  Brain Behavior and Immunity.  2008;22(5):699-708.
  • Huddleston P. Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster: A Guide of Mind-Body Techniques. Cambridge, MA: Angel River Press, 1996.
  • Jung MK, Callaci JJ, Lauing KL, et al. Alcohol exposure and mechanisms of tissue injury and repair. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research. 2011;35(3):392-399.
  • Kiecolt-Glaser K, Marucha PT, Malarkey WB, et al. Slowing of wound healing by psychological stress. Lancet.1995;346(8984):1194-1196.
  • Kratzing C. Pre-operative nutrition and carbohydrate loading. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 2011;70(3):311-315.
  • Nilsson U. The anxiety- and pain-reducing effects of music interventions: a systematic review. Association of Operating Room Nurses Journal. 2008;87(4):780-807.
  • Sandén B, Försth P, Michaëlsson K.  Smokers show less improvement than non-smokers 2 years after surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis: A study of 4555 patients from the Swedish spine register.  Spine (Philadelphia, Pa. 1976).2011; 36(13):1059-1064.
  • Stratos I, Li Z, Herlyn P, Rotter R, et al. Vitamin D increases cellular turnover and functionally restores the skeletal muscle after crush injury in rats. American Journal Pathology. 2012 Dec 19. Epub ahead of print.
Topics: REHAB
Z Altug
- Z Altug, PT, MS, CSCS, NSCA-PT, is a licensed physical therapist and athletic performance specialist out of Los Angeles. He co-authored the 2012 Healthy Lifestyle...
Z Altug
- Z Altug, PT, MS, CSCS, NSCA-PT, is a licensed physical therapist and athletic performance specialist out of Los Angeles. He co-authored the 2012 Healthy Lifestyle...
Must See
Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive
Views: 5,298,334
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 4,847,933
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 8,431,790

Featured Videos

Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Views: 62,296
Greg Nixon's Full-Body Dumbbell Circuit Views: 316,352
Blake Griffin Interview and Cover Shoot Views: 578,141
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive
Views: 5,298,334
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 4,225,908
Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall
Views: 3,360,797
Margus Hunt Benches 385 Pounds for Five Reps
Views: 19,571,570
Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout
Views: 880,435

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries

The Five Best Body Weight Exercises for Baseball Players to Prevent Injuries As the baseball season progresses, and even during the offseason, it's...

Eliminate Elbow Pain with These 3 Methods

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

How to Train With Running Blisters

Coaches: Prevent Injuries With the Recovery Management Tool

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

6 Ways to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

How to Treat Piriformis Syndrome

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

Basketball Players: Prevent Ankle Sprains With These 3 Exercises

The Future of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

10 Ways to Fix Back Pain

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

7 Ways to Fix Back Pain

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

How to Bench Press With a Shoulder Injury

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

Sports Hernias: What You Need to Know

STUDY: Imaginary Exercise Helps You Recover Faster From Injury

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Muscle Injuries

Achilles Tendon Ruptures: Prevention and Recovery

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

3 Steps to Prevent Soccer ACL Injuries

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury