Exercise After Back or Spine Surgery: What to Expect

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Following back or spine surgery, you may be eager to get back to your favorite activities, such as playing sports and hitting the gym. However, after surgery it is best to take it slow and ease back into physical activities to reduce your chances of experiencing an injury or a setback in your recovery. Even if your procedure was minimally invasive, you still need to give your body time to heal.

Often times, you will be referred to a physical therapist to aid in recovery and promote healthy exercise. Remember that the whole point of exercise after your procedure is to regain your strength and prevent future complications. It is normal to feel pain and discomfort as you begin your new exercise regimen, but as you heal the pain should continue to dissipate.

Getting Up and Getting Active

After nearly any back or spine surgery, doctors want to get you up and out of bed as soon as possible. To ensure the best recovery possible, begin moving around as soon as you are able and advised. As tempting as it may be to simply lay around for rest and healing, a sedentary lifestyle could cause more harm than good.

It’s completely natural to feel sore, achy, and tired post back or spine surgery. Your body has been under stress and you may be mentally exhausted as well. Working your way into low-impact exercises is healing to both your body and your mind.

Benefits of Exercise Following Back or Spine Surgery

Physically speaking, back and spine surgery recovery that involves movement and low-impact exercise can prevent stiff joints and sore muscles. It also decreases your risk of blood clots, improves your circulation, and strengthens your immune system.

Lying sedentary can cause an array of complications to your overall health, as well as hinder your back or spine surgery recovery. The exercise and activities suggested by your recovery team are designed to get you back to your daily routine as quickly as possible. The recovery plan helps you recover faster — with less pain and fewer setbacks. Follow your spine surgeon’s instructions to achieve the best results from your procedure.

Surgery-Friendly Exercise Suggestions

Exercise doesn’t have to be a grueling and painful process. Start slow and fight the temptation to dive back into your old workout routines right away. Don’t push yourself too hard. Some low-impact exercises are surprisingly enjoyable and a great way to ease back into exercise. Surgery friendly exercises include:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Light dancing
  • Casual bike riding

Anything that gets you motivated and moving is a great start in establishing a healthy exercise regimen. Once you’re ready for more of a challenge, you can progress to other back surgery friendly exercises, such as:

  • Yoga
  • Elliptical training
  • Step aerobics
  • Mild jogging

Set Achievable Exercise Goals

Physical therapy teaches you which muscles to work and how to use them properly. Together with the spine experts at EmergeOrtho: Foothills Region, you can customize an exercise plan specific to your back or spine surgery recovery. First and foremost, focus on strengthening the muscles directly impacted by your surgery. Additionally, strengthening surrounding or secondary muscles is important since they lend support to the affected area.

Strengthening your core muscles reduces stress and pressure on your spine by aiding in the support of your body’s weight and movements. It is important to strengthen the muscles around your spine because they can help to hold the spine in its proper place, preventing future compressions.

As with any exercise, pay attention to your body. Call your doctor if your pain becomes worse when you exercise. Additionally, even if you’re not experiencing pain, understand your limitations and avoid overworking your muscles or hindering your back surgery recovery.

Learn More About EmergeOrtho: Foothills Region

If you are suffering from back or spine pain, the spine experts at EmergeOrtho: Foothills Region, formally Carolina Orthopaedic Specialists, are available to help. Our team will diagnose, treat, and work to eliminate your pain. Additionally, we will work with you on exercises to promote healing and get you back to the activities you love. Visit us today!