phone (480) 993-1300   -   FAX: (480) 212-1027 

Overworking yourself in the weeks or even months after back surgery is generally a bad idea. But so is remaining too idle. Learn several exercises to do in this critical period with the back and spine experts and Desert Spine and Scoliosis Center.

Why is Strenghthening Your Core Important After Back Surgery?

After back surgery, you will be sore. This soreness could last for days, weeks, or in some cases, even months. In the period immediately following surgery, it’s especially important to avoid any type of strenuous exercise to promote healing. But after a while, it’s usually a good idea to resume light activity once you’ve been cleared to do so by your doctor. Here are a number of exercises and stretches you can try to maintain your muscle mass and stay limber and healthy (but not overworked) after any type of back surgery.

Always Talk to Your Doctor Before Beginning a Post-Surgery Exercise Routine 

Regardless of the exercise program you’re intent on trying or the stretches you think will be helpful to do post-back surgery, always consult with your surgeon or doctor to get cleared for exercise. If you attempt to exercise before your body is truly ready, you could cause further (and possibly irreparable) damage to your body.

Exercise Phases in Post-Surgery Recovery

It’s important not to simply undertake a variety of stretches and exercises willy-nilly. Rather, as Livestrong notes, you’ll want to follow a post-surgery exercise plan with two set phases. 

The first phase of core exercises after spinal fusion or other back surgery involves promoting stability. The second phase of after-back-surgery exercises involves strengthening the muscles in your back and around your spine. 

Here are the recommended phases with some exercises to complete in each phase.

Phase 1: Stability

1. Ankle Pumps

  1. Lie on your back completely flat.
  2. Move your ankles so that your toes point upwards/toward your face.
  3. Flex your ankles so your toes point away from you (parallel with your legs).

2. Heel Slides

  1. Lie on your back completely flat.
  2. Bend one of your knees (either left or right) so that the sole of the same foot is flat on the ground.
  3. Straighten the same knee again.
  4. Repeat for the other side of your body.

3. Hip Bridges

  1. Lie on your back completely flat. 
  2. Place your hands next to you, palms to the ground.
  3. Bend both of your knees so that the soles of your feet are flat on the ground.
  4. Spread your legs about as wide as your hips.
  5. Lift your hips into the air but keep your shoulder blades and feet fixed.
  6. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
  7. Release and then lie flat again.

Phase 2: Strengthen With Movement

4. Stability Ball Pelvic Tilt

  1. Sit on a stability ball with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and your feet placed firmly and flatly on the ground.
  2. Put your hands on your hip bones.
  3. Contract your core muscles ever so slightly, tilting your pelvis forward as you do so.
  4. Send your pelvis back again, creating a slight arch in your lower back.
  5. Repeat the prior two steps (#3 and #4) for sixty seconds.

5. Bird Dog

  1. Get on all fours.
  2. Bend your knees squarely underneath your hips and your hands underneath your shoulders (like tabletop position in yoga).
  3. Extend your left foot out and then point your toes down (so they’re perpendicular to the ground).
  4. Extend your right arm out with your palm facing in toward your body and your thumb giving a “thumbs up”.
  5. Hold for a few seconds (UNLESS you feel pain in your lower back, in which case you should stop).
  6. Move your left knee and right elbow in toward your belly button at the same time.
  7. Repeat exercise on the other side of your body. 

Learn More: Contact Desert Spine and Scoliosis Center

Exercise is just one way to speed along your recovery after back surgery. Be sure also to stay hydrated, eat healthy, and get plenty of rest. If you have any questions about how and when to exercise, and how vigorous to be, we invite you to contact us here at Desert Spine and Scoliosis Center. We are experts in orthopedic spinal surgery with locations in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Mesa, AZ.