Back Exercises

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Care for your back after surgery

It is very important for the success of your surgery to take special care and protect your back during your recovery. Your physician will provide specific instructions regarding any limitations, but generally it is recommended to follow these suggestions:

  • No lifting over 5 lbs. until your physician tells you otherwise
  • No bending, stooping, nor twisting for the first 4-6 weeks. Always avoid painful movements.
  • Always use good body mechanics as instructed by your therapist when changing positions. Use your brace as instructed and also “brace” with your abdominal muscles. Never hold your breath during activity.
  • Support your low back with a chair back and lumbar support, use a towel roll if needed.
  • Usually no driving is allowed for 6 weeks, especially if you have leg pain. Talk to your physician regarding recommendations.
  • Walking is the best form of aerobic exercise at this time, follow recommendations as suggested by your therapist or physician.
  • Only perform the following exercises until further instructed by your home health rehabilitation therapist or your physician.
Log rolling

Use for rolling to your side, and for getting out of bed.

  • Gently tighten abdominal muscles (e.g. as if you’re zipping up tight pants)
  • Slide and bend one knee at a time
  • With both knees bent, roll to your side with knees and shoulder moving together
  • Keeping abdominal muscles tight, gently exhale as you roll to your side
  • To come to a sitting position, slide both feet to the edge of the bed and press with your arms while bringing feet to the floor. Gently exhale while coming up.
Abdominal bracing

Used to give additional support to your spine during transfers, lifting, coughing, etc. This is your “internal corset”. This “bracing” technique will assist with stabilizing your spine.

  • Lie on your back with both knees bent. You may use pillows to support your legs.
  • Gently tighten your abdominal muscles as if you were to zip up tight pants. Be careful not to hold your breath.
  • Hold contraction for 5-10 seconds.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Advanced: Perform exercise in sitting and standing positions.
Neural glide

Assists with keeping the nerve fiber gliding from your back to your leg.

Posterior nerve fibers

  • Sit upright in chair with back supported. You may want to use a towel roll for support to your low back. Keep your chest facing forward and avoid slouching.
  • Gently extend one leg out straight as possible without pain, slowly return to floor. (If you are able to tolerate without pain, gently pull your toes towards you while extending your leg.)
  • Perform 15-20 repetitions, Repeat for the other leg.

Anterior nerve fibers

  • Stand upright with hands resting on counter-top or back of chair.
  • Gently bend one knee bringing your heel towards your buttocks, keep knee pointed towards floor.
  • Continue for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat for other leg.
  • Modified: If unable to stand comfortably on one leg, lie on your side with pillow between your knees. Gently bend your top leg, bringing your heel towards your buttocks. Turn to other side and repeat for top leg.

SOURCE: HARRIS METHODIST FORT WORTH PHYSICAL THERAPY DEPARTMENT