How Yoga Can Help You Bounce Back After Surgery

Surgery — the very word makes some people nervous, and understandably so. They may wonder if everything will go right with the procedure. How long will recovery take, and what can you do to speed things along? Yoga is one tool that can help you bounce back after surgery.

You should listen to your doctor’s post-operative instructions first and foremost. However, your recovery team may recommend moves from this ancient practice to help you heal. What makes it so effective? Here’s how yoga can help you recover from surgery.

The Role Of Yoga In Physical Therapy

It’s natural to feel nervous about going under the knife. However, take heart: 40 to 50 million Americans have surgery yearly, and most pull through with no lasting complications. Many patients report a significantly improved quality of life once freed from the conditions that prevented them from finding joy in daily activities.

Your treatment team may set you up with a physiatrist, a trained medical professional who designs programs that physical therapists implement based on a patient’s unique recovery needs. Such interventions reduce hospital readmissions by 8% by guiding the recovery process. You can speak to them about your post-surgery yoga regimen.

Chances are, your physiatrist will applaud your desire to do yoga to aid your healing process. Long stints in bed can result in spinal compression, leaving you with lasting pain. Restorative yoga is designed for people recovering from illness or injury, and you can do many routines right on your mattress. They eliminate the tightness and pressure on your discs resulting from prolonged immobility.

The issue goes beyond maintaining muscular strength — it also prevents pain. Your fascia, or layer of connective tissue holding your muscles together, is particularly rich in nerve fibers. Prolonged inactivity during surgical recovery can result in fascial adhesions that make future movement agonizing. Gentle stretching during recovery keeps everything lubricated and gliding smoothly.

What Post-Surgery Yoga Looks Like

If you’re a dedicated Astangi, your post-surgery yoga routine might not resemble what you’re used to in your Shala. You won’t be doing crazy jump-throughs or balancing in kakasana or crow pose.

You may work with an integrated yoga therapist who designs flows based on the recommendations of your physiatrist and others in your care team. For example, suppose you’re recovering from a hysterectomy and saddened about your loss of child-bearing ability. In that case, your guide may include meditations that address your mental and emotional distress.

Your routine will be gentle, emphasizing reclined and seated stretches you can do without risk of reinjury. Your recovery team will coach you through what moves to do and which to avoid. It varies in every case, depending on the location and extent of your surgery. For example, someone recovering from a knee replacement will have a different routine than someone bouncing back from having their gallbladder removed.

How Long Must You Wait To Try Yoga After Surgery?

Your individual recovery plan will vary. However, many medical professionals consider early mobility crucial to keep your muscles strong and improve your breathing and digestion. Therefore, hospital staff may help you get up and take a brief walk shortly after surgery.

If you have ambulatory surgery that allows you to leave the hospital on the same day, you might not have a full-service team to advise your recovery. In such circumstances, your doctor is your best guide. Prepare a list of questions, including when to begin resuming certain activities. Advise them that you’d like to use yoga in your recovery and ask for recommendations.

Yoga As A Healthy Recovery Tool For Life

You may decide to extend your yoga practice beyond surgical recovery. Doing so is a fabulous way to maintain health for life.

Even a few minutes in bed at day’s end can help ease you into sleep. Routine stretching helps prevent chronic pain and soothes your central nervous system, making it easier to get your z’s. YouTube has a wealth of free programming — try searching for restorative routines or even chair yoga you can do at your work desk.

Practice Yoga During Recovery

Yoga is a fabulous tool for helping you bounce back after surgery. It even has its own style. Restorative yoga arose to help those recovering from illness or injury, and using it can help you prevent fascial adhesions and speed your recovery.

Yoga during your surgical recovery will help you return to feeling like your old self, perhaps acquiring a healthy new habit along the way.

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