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Bounce Back From Surgery with Osteopathic Prehabilitation and Rehabilitation

Surgery… it can be a pretty daunting prospect.

Obviously, we are grateful for the end result but it can be hugely challenging to go through. Patients can be anxious about the outcome, how much pain they will be in and may feel out of control.

However, a large part of the road to success and healing is in your own hands.

Just like someone would train for a major sporting event, you too need to get your body in the best shape taking steps before as well as after to ensure the best outcome.

N.B. Whilst most of the following is aimed at those undergoing orthopedic operations much of the advice can be applied to any planned surgery, with obvious exceptions.

Prehabilitation & Rehabilitation

Stay strong

Muscles are very much in the ‘use it or lose it’ category, shrinking rapidly if not utilised. Undertake prescribed exercise, stretching and massage as close to your operation as possible.

Tight muscles are weak muscles, so strengthening and stretching muscles associated with the operation beforehand will improve their ability to function later.

Using them again, as soon as is advised after the surgery, will then build strength, function and ultimately independence, faster.

Keep moving – any way you can!

Walking, swimming, dancing or even just wiggling fingers and toes, chair exercises and deep breathing all help.

Movement maintains good cardiovascular health and aids movement of blood and lymph around the body, to keep tissues healthy and reduce swelling.

After surgery, movement will help reduce the chances of deep vein thrombosis and inflammation build up, which can result in pain.

It will also ensure that healing works within the range of motion required, so that scar tissue doesn’t form, blocking function.

Pain control

The body can hold on to a memory of pain long after damaged tissues have been removed or healed. Reducing pain to the minimum, before and straight after the operation, reduces your risk of long-term pain.

Ensure you use all your options – physical therapies, massage, meditation and pain medications (as prescribed) – to keep your pain under control.

Stay healthy

Maintain a healthy diet to provide: energy for healing, protein to prevent muscle loss and vitamins and minerals to boost your immune system and prevent infection.

A healthy BMI is recommended to reduce the risk of complications, as is drinking more water, less caffeine or alcohol and not smoking.


Rest your body and mind in preparation for surgery to ensure good energy levels and reduce anxiety. Sleep, yoga, deep breathing, meditation, music and reading can all assist with this.

Post surgery, regular resting (with intervals of movement) will aid faster healing.

Build a support network

Even if you minimise contact before surgery to avoid illness, it is important to stay sociable (maybe meet outside or chat on the phone) to maintain good mental wellbeing, and do keep up any practical support needed.

How can Osteopathy help?

Osteopathy is about enabling the body to heal and maintain itself. It is also known to help alleviate pain and improve calm and wellbeing.

In practice, this means relieving muscle and joint tension and improving circulation in all affected parts of the body, not just the surgery location.

Typical techniques include: soft tissue massage and trigger point release; joint articulation and manipulation; dry needling; lymphatic drainage; cranial osteopathy and stretching and strengthening exercise advice.

Osteopathy treats the whole person and can be an excellent source of support in your prehabilitation and rehabilitation journey alongside your medical team.