As a therapist, I often have patients with back pain ask me what they can do to improve their recovery, whether it be post-surgical or just post-injury. Here are three critical recovery mistakes people make that could limit their freedom down the road.


Remaining Sedentary

Those having back pain for many years and are used to being sedentary are often afraid to get moving again after surgery or injury. Although it is important to not be excessively active while you recover, you must not remain sedentary. Moving decreases stiffness, improves tissue and joint mobility, and decreases chances for post-surgical complications such as blood clots. It’s important to stick to low impact activity for the first six weeks of recovery and avoid lifting weight. Typical low-impact activities include:

  • walking
  • yoga
  • swimming (after incision has healed)
  • elliptical training

If you begin to feel discomfort or pain, you should stop the activity and rest.


Pushing Yourself Too Fast

Returning to activity is key to recovery, but doing too much, too soon can be counter-productive. Rehab is a critical part in your recovery, and needs to progress at the recommended rate for your body. The muscles and tissues need time to heal and re-strengthen through the right progression of exercises. A skilled therapist understands the process and helps progress your activity gradually to help you recover faster.  By pushing yourself too quickly, you can undo the benefits of your doctor’s or therapist’s work to fix your back and ultimately leave you in worse shape than you were prior to surgery or injury.


Feeding Your Body the Incorrect Nutrients

Healing takes lots of energy. Even though some complain of loss of appetite when they aren’t feeling well, it’s important you provide your body with the right nourishment and hydration. Foods that are high in lean protein, leafy greens, citrus fruit, mushrooms, and legumes all help your body recover.  Your recovery will go more smoothly if you provide your body with good, nutrient rich food and make sure you stay well-hydrated.


Recovery after back injuries certainly requires hard work, but by listening to your body, not over-exerting yourself, and slowly becoming active again, you can return to your pre-injury life with less pain and discomfort. Contact Freedom with any questions or make an appointment today!


Physical Therapist at Freedom Physical Therapy Services
Molly Rittberg received her master’s degree in Physical Therapy in 2007 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and went on to receive her doctorate from Rosalind Franklin University (North Chicago) in 2009. She has since worked in an outpatient orthopedic practice where she worked with patients of all ages, injuries and disabilities. She has a wide variety of experiences including knee, ankle, foot and shoulder injuries, post-operative conditions, spinal rehabilitation and peripheral neuropathies.