How to Stay Active During Your Spine Surgery Recovery

It has been repeatedly proven that staying mobile is one of the most important aspects to improving pain and recovery time following surgery. In the immediate postoperative period following spine surgery, there may be temporary challenges and limitations to your physical activity. The following is meant to provide you with practical tips and strategies on how to stay active during your spine surgery recovery. These tips should help optimize your recovery process, regain strength and mobility, and return to an active lifestyle.

1. Start with Gentle Movement and Walking

During the initial stages of your recovery, when you are gradually reintroducing physical activity, focus on gentle movements and walking. Taking short walks within the comfort of your home or in a controlled environment can help improve circulation, prevent blood clots, and promote healing. Begin with short durations and gradually increase the duration and distance as tolerated.

2. Incorporate Stretching and Range of Motion Exercises

Stretching and range of motion exercises are valuable for maintaining flexibility and preventing muscle stiffness during your recovery period.

3. Engage in Low-Impact Aerobic Activities

As your recovery progresses, you may be able to incorporate low-impact aerobic activities into your routine. These activities provide cardiovascular benefits and help strengthen your muscles without placing excessive strain on your spine. Some examples of low-impact aerobic exercises include stationary cycling, swimming, water aerobics*, and using an elliptical machine.

* Submerging incisions should be avoided for several weeks after surgery to avoid infection.

4. Focus on Core Strengthening

Building core strength is crucial for spine stability and overall functional movement. With the guidance of a physical therapist, you can perform exercises that target your core muscles, including the abdominal muscles, back muscles, and hip muscles. Core-strengthening exercises may include bridges, planks, gentle Pilates movements, and specific exercises using resistance bands or light weights. Proper technique and gradual progression are key to avoid strain or injury.

5. Consider Rehabilitation Programs

Depending on your specific condition and the extent of your surgery, we may recommend participation in a rehabilitation program. Rehabilitation programs provide structured guidance and support in your recovery journey, with the supervision of trained professionals. These programs may include a combination of physical therapy, exercise regimens, and education to enhance your recovery and maximize your functional abilities.

Rehabilitation after spine surgery

6. Listen to Your Body and Rest When Needed

While it’s important to stay active during your recovery, it’s equally important to listen to your body and rest when needed. Pay attention to any signs of pain, fatigue, or discomfort during or after physical activity. Pushing through excessive pain or overexerting yourself can impede the healing process. Finding a balance between activity and rest is essential for a successful recovery.


Staying mobile during recovery process following spine surgery is very important. By incorporating gentle movement and walking, performing stretching and range of motion exercises, engaging in low-impact aerobic activities, focusing on core strengthening, considering rehabilitation programs, and listening to your body, you can promote a smooth and successful recovery. Every individual’s recovery journey is unique, so it’s important to tailor an activity plan that aligns with your specific needs and promotes optimal healing. Any questions regarding postoperative mobility and activity can be answered during your office visit or any time – just give us a call.


Dallas Orthopedic Spine Surgeon
Dr Michael R Wheeler, MD
Orthopedic Spine Specialist Procedures