Walking is the first type of “exercise” you’re likely to perform after spinal fusion surgery, which is typically a requirement for any patient before leaving the hospital. When it comes to post-surgery exercise, however, determining how to proceed depends on several factors, such as how well you’re healing, although there are some general tips to keep in mind.
Get Approval from Your Doctor
Your board-certified spine specialist will let you know when it’s safe to get back to some type of regular exercise routine. Get clarification on what movements are best for you and what to avoid.
Static Stabilization Exercises
During the first few months following surgery, exercises that don’t involve moving the main part of your body reduce the risk of re-injury and restore flexibility that was lost during the initial period of immobility following your procedure. Such exercises involve arm and leg movements only, with examples including:
- Seated hamstring stretches
- Prone knee bends
- Seated arm-rowing motions
Dynamic Stabilization Exercises
After about 6-12 weeks, depending on how you progress, you should be able to add some motions that include the trunk of your body. Such exercises often involve the use of an exercise mat or an exercise ball, with typical movements including:
- Pulls with a resistance band
- Lumbar diagonal rotations
- Sitting to bridge on an exercise ball for support
Low-Impact Aerobic Exercises
After flexibility and muscle strength is restored, maintain gains with low-impact aerobic exercise. Aside from walking, low-impact exercises that are relatively gentle on your spine can include:
- Swimming or water aerobics
- Brisk walking
- Yoga or Pilates
Core-strengthening exercises can usually be added to your routine towards the end of your recovery period, which is typically 3-4 months post-surgery. Stationary bikes, elliptical trainers, and stair climbers are especially beneficial since settings can be easily adjusted to match your current level of comfort and endurance.
A physical therapist or chiropractor can help put together a customized exercise plan during your recovery period. Check with your doctor first before getting back into sports or other activities like running and dancing that often involve abrupt starts and stops and added stress on the spine.
Interesting in learning more about spine health? Call (310) 828-7757 and schedule an in-person consultation with one of the board-certified spine surgeons at The Spine Institute in Beverly Hills. Our team can evaluate and diagnose your condition and explain all possible treatment options. Reach out today.