Any exercise after back surgery should to be tailored to your specific needs.
Depending on what kind of surgery you had your doctor should have given you contraindications of exercises that you should not be doing.
Some of these exercises may include twisting, side bending, and over extension or flexion of the spine.
If your doctor informed you not to do any heavy lifting exercises after your back surgery then you should avoid any bent over positions with your back flexed or curved.
A safer alternative when picking up heavy objects is to use your legs, bending your knees with a neutral or flat back so you do not put pressure in the discs and vertebra of the lower back.
Neutral back position is the safest exercise position for someone with a bad back .
Pilates exercises are well known to help realign the spine and increase the strength in the muscles that support the back. Finding neutral back or neutral spine position is easiest when you are lying on the floor.
Lying on the floor with your knees bent is probably the most comfortable way to do exercise after back surgery.
To find neutral spine, first the tailbone needs to be resting on the floor so the muscles in the buttocks are relaxed.
Second, move up to the middle ribcage area and pull the ribs down into the mat without flattening the lower back.
Third, lengthen the back of the neck by pulling your chin down and feeling a little space between the mat and the back of your neck.
To review; tailbone anchored, lower back has natural curve, ribs pulled into floor, and length in the back of the neck with the chin pulled down.
Now you can begin to exercise after back surgery by rocking your pelvis, otherwise known as the pelvic tilt.
Exhale as you flatten your low back into the floor tilting your pubic up, then inhale as you release the tailbone back down creating natural space between the lower back and the mat.
Rock back and forth breathing to loosen up your back and strengthen your abdominal muscles.
Lifting your hips into a bridge is another effective way to exercise your back after surgery.
Find more great Pilates exercises to strengthen your back with the new Pilates DVD for Healthy Back and Joints by clicking here.
When you are sitting up in a chair the best way to find neutral spine is to press your bottom up against the back of the chair and then lift your chest drawing your abdominal muscles up under the ribcage, pull your chin back aligning your ears over your shoulders.
This position will help to release any stress or tension in the shoulders and lower back.
Sitting with neutral spine is also a good way to do exercises following back surgery with your back still somewhat supported.
This may be the hardest way to exercise with back pain because you will need to have the strength in your muscles to support an upright posture without help from a floor or chair.
This is where most of my clients find they get pain from standing to long. I tell them it's important to be aware once the pain begins and then to use the techniques I showed them to ease the pain or tension whether it's in the upper or lower back.
When you are standing or walking you can first line the body up against a wall to find neutral spine.
Make sure your bottom and shoulder blades are touching the wall. Draw your abdominal muscles up and under the ribcage lifting the chest and then pulling the chin back to align your ears over your shoulders.
Tilting the pelvis slightly can take pressure off the lower back. Do this by pulling your tailbone down, lengthening the spine and bringing the pubic bone forward or even with your hip bones. Very subtle movement.
Try doing some wall slides as shown to the left while against the wall. Walk your feet out the length of your thighs while still keeping your upper body against the wall.
Then, walk away from the wall and try to keep this same posture as you are walking or standing and doing any exercise after back surgery.