Get guidance from your surgeon and physical therapist on the timing and type of exercises needed, and always ask your surgeon before starting any of the following exercises., especially exercises involving the BACK or NECK after fusion surgery.

The following are simple stretching and strengthening exercises that can be used to keep your muscles loose and enhance the musculoskeletal healing after spine surgery.
For safe and effective exercise, breathe normally, avoid twisting, bending or arching your spine, and stop if you feel sharp pain.

Buttocks Squeeze

Strengthens buttocks muscles.
Lie on your back with your spine aligned.
Squeeze your buttocks muscles together.
Count to five, then relax.

Partial Sit-Up

Strengthens the abdominal muscles.
DO NOT do partial sit-ups unless your doctor or physical therapist says you can.
Lie on your back, spine aligned and knees bent.
Brace your abdominal muscles and squeeze the buttocks muscles together.
Reach your hands toward your thighs and tighten your abdominal muscles to lift your shoulders off the floor. Focus your eyes on the ceiling; don’t bend your neck toward your chest.
Work up to holding for one minute, several times a day.

Heel Raise

Helps to strengthen calf muscles.
Stand with your spine balanced. Hold on to a counter, table, sturdy chair, or railing.
Rise on your toes, then lower your heels to the floor.

Calf Stretch

Helps make standing and turning easier.
Stand with your spine balanced. Step forward with one foot.
Place your hands on a wall or the back of a sturdy chair.
Keep both heels on the floor.
Bend your front leg until you feel the stretch in your back leg.
Count to 20, then switch feet.
Do not arch your back.

Opposite Hand-Knee Push

Strengthens the muscles in your abdomen and thighs.
Sit with your spine in a neutral position. You may want to use a lumbar support.
Tighten your lower abdomen.
Lift your left knee and push against it with your right hand for 20 counts.  Repeat with the left hand and the right knee.

Wall Slide

Helps to strengthen your thighs.
Stand with your back against a smooth wall.
Put your feet 18-24 inches away from the wall and slightly apart.
Relax your shoulders.
If needed, place a rolled-up towel behind your lower back to keep your spine in a neutral position. Slide slowly down until you’re halfway between sitting and standing. Hold for at least ten counts, then slide back up.

Hamstring Stretch

Stretches the muscles in the back of your thigh.
Lie on your back with one knee bent.
Tighten your abdominal muscles.
Put a towel or your hands around the back of the thigh of the straight leg.
Slowly pull the towel toward you, keeping the knee straight.
Hold for ten counts, then switch legs. Raise the leg a little higher each day.
If you feel tingling or pain in your back or legs, you’re not yet ready to do this exercise.

Quadriceps Stretch

Strengthens the muscle on the front of the thigh.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
To keep your balance, hold on to the back of a sturdy chair
or a nearby wall with your right hand. Grasp your left ankle with your hand.
Pull your left heel toward your buttocks. Don’t arch your
back or lean sideways.
Hold for 20 counts, then switch legs.

Chest-Shoulder Stretch

Relaxes the chest and shoulders.
Stand facing a corner with your back in a neutral position.
Put one foot slightly in front of the other. With arms bent at right angles, place your hands on the walls. Keep the elbows at shoulder height. Gently lean toward the corner. Feel the stretch across your upper chest. Don’t arch your back.

Pelvic Tilt

Strengthens abdominal muscles.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat.
Tighten your stomach and buttocks, and gently press your low back into the bed. This tilts your pelvis. Hold for five seconds. Repeat 10 times. Do this twice a day.