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Long-lasting results require hard work. Recovery from spine surgery is no different. Exercise and nutrition are essential to optimal healing and a return to a pain-free life.

Michael Richardson, PT, DPT, of Rehab Associates of Central Virginia, suggests the following steps to ensure a healthy recovery from spine surgery:

Drink water. Everyone, especially patients in recovery, should drink 64 ounces of water a day. This keeps ligaments, nerves, tissue and discs hydrated and puts individuals in the optimal environment for healing.

Eat nutritious meals. Getting consistent nutrition throughout the day and controlling sugar intake helps achieve a healthy weight and maintain energy levels.

Avoid tobacco and alcohol. Nicotine inhibits the healing process and alcohol is a depressant that can increase side effects with other medications.

Focus on sleep. Try to get a good night’s sleep, which allows the body to recover and heal. If possible avoid daytime naps, especially if they keep you awake at night.

Move often. Begin a walking routine and avoid sitting. Get up every 30 minutes to stretch and move. Excessive weight puts stress on the joints and spine.

Be committed. The single most important factor in long-term results is following through on a therapist’s exercise instructions. A pain-free life begins with making a commitment to better health through nutrition and exercise.

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