5 Tips for Running After Back Surgery

Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: April 30, 2018

Running After Back Surgery

Whether you want to run so you can rejoin your sports team following spine surgery or you just want to get back to an active lifestyle, a lot of patients want to know when they can start running after their procedure. There’s no one size fits all answer, but there are some ways you can make the transition back to running following a spinal procedure. We share those steps in today’s blog.

Get Medical Clearance

Before you decide to walk, let alone run, be sure that you have medical clearance from your doctor. Make sure they say that you are fully cleared to begin physical activities like running or walking. If they say two weeks, follow their timeline. If you think an adjustment needs to be made, consult your doctor before altering your rehab schedule.

Walk Before You Run

Just like in life, you need  to walk before you start running. Don’t just assume that since you’re walking around your house that you’ll be able to tolerate an outdoor run. Go for some moderate-intensity walks before trying to go for your first run.

Pace Yourself

Just because you could run two miles no sweat before the operation doesn’t mean that you should pick up where you left off. Your back is in a weakened state after a spinal operation, and overstressing it too soon following an operation can leave you susceptible to reinjury or a failed surgery. It’s always better to cut your run a half mile too short than to go a little too long. Slowly build up your pace and distance while your back returns to full health.

Start Flat

If possible, try to ensure that your first few runs are on a flat surface. It can be tempting to run outdoors if the weather is nice, but uneven sidewalks or bumpy paths can put undue stress on your spine with each step. Consider running on a treadmill for the first few runs, that way you’re not far from home if something just doesn’t feel right, or try to find a paved outdoor track that is smooth and easy to run on.

Don’t Ignore Other Workouts

You want to get back to running, but don’t ignore other key exercises, like core strengthening or your physical therapy routine. Inactivity weakens muscle groups, so if you’re laid up for a while after surgery, you’re going to need to re-strengthen more than just your back. Insert some cross training into your workout so that all muscle groups and structures are ready for the rigors of running.

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