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Maybe you’ve had a recent spinal fusion surgery. Or maybe you had one a few years ago, and now you’re ready to try working out again. There’s one burning question in your mind, though: can you exercise after spinal fusion?
Can I Exercise After Spinal Fusion Surgery?
Here’s the short answer: YES! In fact, an exercise routine can help you prevent or manage common problems after spinal fusion, like trouble balancing or new aches and pains.
Working out with a fused spine may look different from how it did pre-surgery, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid movement. Studies have shown that exercise can actually help the long-term outcome for spine surgery patients– and who doesn’t want to experience their best possible recovery?
When you want a workout routine that’s safe for your body after a fusion surgery, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Look for a movement practitioner who knows how to work with your type of spinal fusion and has experience doing so. Sure, you could work out alone and use online videos, but would you really get the most out of your experience? Working one-on-one with a local private exercise instructor can help you get to know your body’s specific needs and limitations. An experienced, qualified instructor will be able to give you a well-rounded workout, offering modifications as needed to accommodate your spine. Even if you choose to attend workout classes or use online videos later, you can use this personalized knowledge to keep yourself safe.
- Respect your body’s limits, and don’t force your body into any position or movement. Yes, working out requires a little bit of discomfort from time to time. But there’s a difference between discomfort for the sake of making progress and things that are just not safe. Trust your gut, listen to your body, and move at whatever pace you need to.
- Find something you enjoy. Movement is a wonderful way to take care of your body long-term, but even the best fitness routine won’t do you any good if you don’t actually DO it. Whether you want to try weight lifting after spinal fusion, swimming, yoga, or Pilates, find something you truly enjoy. Taking care of your unique body doesn’t have to be a drag!
What Exercises Can I Do After Back Fusion Surgery?
While there are some exercises that aren’t wise to attempt at all with a spinal fusion, there are plenty more that you CAN do! One of the most common questions I get is, “How do you work your abs with a fused spine?” Traditional crunches are at the top of my list of exercises to avoid after spinal fusion surgery (particularly for long fusions). But that doesn’t mean you can’t work your abs! You just need a bit of creativity.
Ab Exercises for Scoliosis Spinal Fusion
My favorite spinal fusion exercises for abs start with an unstable surface. Instead of trying to move the spine to engage the abs (like you would in a situp, roll-up, or crunch), I like to use a Pilates ball, foam roller, or other “wobbly” prop. Place the prop under your tailbone while lying supine (on your back). Then, you can add in some leg and hip motions to challenge your stability (head over to my Instagram to find a few fusion-friendly exercises to try).
When you’re lying on an unstable surface, your abdominal muscles (and many others!) are working to help keep you balanced. These types of moves target your deep core muscles, which can improve your lumbar stability and help prevent future injuries or additional surgeries.
Get Moving! How to Work Out with a Spinal Fusion
Your spinal fusion doesn’t have to keep you from doing things you love. Finding a consistent workout routine can help you stay active and proactively manage your scoliosis spinal fusion. Reach out about private training for spinal fusions today, and let’s get you on the path to freedom and joy in your own body.