Stretching after Back Surgery

With the many variations of back surgery, stretching exercises need to be tailored in order to meet the recovery requirements of each kind. For people who have just had back surgery, the safest stretching exercise position is the neutral back or spine position. This can be easily accomplished while lying down, sitting, standing or walking.

Stretching While Lying Down

Perhaps the most comfortable exercise position after a back surgery is lying down with knees bent. Keep in mind that it is important that the spine is not subjected to any kind of stress. It should be at a neutral position, void of pressure. Here are the steps to help you accomplish this stretching exercise properly.

  • Lie down with your knees bent and with feet flat on the floor.
  • Find the position where the spine is neutral. Your tailbone has to be resting comfortably on the floor. Keep your butt muscles relaxed.
  • Next, make sure your lower back is at its natural curve by flattening your back ribs down into the mat, without flattening the lower back.
  • Stretch the back of your neck by pulling the chin down. There should be space between the back of your neck and the mat.
  • Lift your feet off of the ground and hold them up in the air forming a 90-degree angle with the knee.
  • Pull one of your knees to your chest and place your other foot flat on the floor.

Stretching While Sitting

This stretching exercise is a great way to loosen up the stress and tension in the shoulders and lower back. It also stretches the leg muscles. Follow these steps to perform this stretching exercise properly.

  • While sitting on a chair, see to it that your bottom is pushed as far back as you can against the back of the chair.
  • Breathe in, lift your chest and slowly draw your diaphram up under your ribcage. Breathe out.
  • Lift one leg up and make it as straight as you can. Hold for 3 seconds.
  • Then, slowly rotate your ankle, clockwise and counterclockwise.
  • After the rotation, slowly put the leg down with feet flat on the surface. Do the same steps with the other leg.

Standing and Walking

Perhaps the most difficult stretching exercises after a back surgery are standing and walking. Muscle strength would have to be established already to support an upright posture without support. Here are some steps to follow in order to make this exercise work to your benefit.

  • Locate your neutral spine prior to exercising. You can accomplish this by lining up your back against a wall.
  • Ensure that your shoulders and shoulder blades are pressed flat against the wall.
  • Start walking slowly, maintaining the neutral spine posture.

Your doctor or surgeon likely gave you recommendations on the type of exercises you should do and exercises you should not be doing. Make sure to stick with that for a safer and faster recovery.


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