How to Exercise Your Back After Spinal Fusion


By Rachel Nall

How to Exercise Your Back After Spinal Fusion

Stretching after spinal fusion can increase range of motion. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images

Spinal injuries or degeneration make even everyday movements painful. To repair a diseased portion of your spine, your physician may recommend a spinal fusion surgery to fuse together damaged vertebrae to make a stronger spinal column. Because spinal fusion surgery can limit your motion in some ways and requires about three months to heal, exercise after spinal fusion surgery should be progressively more challenging. Exercise for a healthy back following surgery can strengthen your back and improve your surgical outcomes.

Step 1

Obtain permission from your physician before beginning any exercise program. She should evaluate your spinal healing process and if your spine is stable enough for exercise. Ask her what movements, such as twisting or bending forward, are permitted.

Step 2

Start with walking or swimming following surgery. Walking enhances spinal fusion, helping your bones to grow together faster. Swimming is another low-impact exercise that supports your back and also burns calories.

Step 3

Perform regular stretches to maintain range of motion and flexibility in the spine. Stretching examples include lying on your back and lifting one leg toward your torso and holding the stretch for 30 seconds. Switch to the opposite leg to repeat the stretch. Repeat this three times and do two stretching sessions per day.


Step 4

Sit on a chair and extend one leg, pointing your toes. Lean slightly forward to feel the stretch in the back of your thighs. Hold for 30 seconds, then lean back and lower the leg to return to your starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. Perform three repetitions on each leg.

Step 5

Use resistance bands to strengthen your back. Wrap your resistance band around your back, grasping it with both hands. Extend one arm forward as if you are punching and then curve around to touch your opposite shoulder. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then release. Repeat two to three times, then perform on the opposite side.

Step 6

Increase the duration of your cardiovascular exercise sessions as your back increases in strength. You also can add other exercises to your routine. These include using an elliptical machine, riding a bicycle or taking a yoga class.


  • Some activities that involve high impact, such as sprinting or running, may not be recommended for you following spinal fusion. This is because the impact can place excess stress on the back and other joints. Activities that involve actual impact, such as football, also should be avoided unless your physician gives his okay.

Credits & Documentation references

Post-Operation Exercises