Paspa Physical Therapy

The Top 10 Exercises to Do After Back Surgery

Have you recently undergone spine surgery and now have to undergo rehabilitation with a physical therapist?

If so, your physical therapy program likely involves specific core exercises.

Below, we will explain the 10 best exercises that will help you experience less pain, improve mobility, and facilitate the healing process during your recovery.

A woman laying on mat doing bridge exercise with knees bent and buttocks in the air.

If you’re ready to start, book an appointment to begin customizing your physical therapy program at Paspa Physical Therapy in Manhattan, NY.

Which Are the Best Exercises After Back Surgery?

During your first visit with us after a spinal fusion, lumbar fusion, or another type of spinal surgery, your exercise routine will focus on regaining your mobility and strength.

Your physical therapy exercises will gradually center on exercising your muscles more, starting with the lower back and legs. 

The later stages will focus on balance and core strength exercises.

Walking Exercise Program

Walking is one of the first physical therapy exercises to help improve your healing, which you must start doing the day after your surgery.

A good starting point is walking at least 20 to 30 minutes on a treadmill or outdoors. Throughout your recovery, increase the amount and length of your walks.

Ankle Pumps

Ankle pumps are a type of nerve stretch that helps improve blood flow to your heart using your calves.

To do this exercise, lie flat on your back. Then move your ankles up and down. Repeat this exercise at least 10 times.

Heel Slides

Heel slides are another nerve stretch to help rehabilitate your body after surgery.

First, lie down on your back and slowly bend your knee. Then, straighten out your knee. Repeat the exercise 10 times.


The Superman exercise will help correct your posture, specifically posterior pelvic tilt, which is when you rotate your pelvis backward.

Start by lying on your stomach in a neutral position with arms outstretched in front of you.

Lift one arm at a time two inches off the floor. Hold for a few seconds before lowering your arm down. Now lift your legs one at a time, hold for a few seconds, and lower them down.

Straight Leg Raises

Straight leg raises are one of the most effective core exercises for back pain.

First, lie down on your back with one leg bent at the knee and the other stretched out in front. Keep your core tight.

Lift them upward about six or seven inches off the ground and hold for three to five seconds. Then, slowly lower them while keeping your abdominal muscles engaged.

Repeat the exercise routine 10 times.


Bridges are an excellent exercise to pursue after lumbar fusion or spine surgery. Lie down onto your back with your knees bent upward.

Keep a neutral spine or straight line from your shoulders to your hips. Then, raise your hips until your body is in line with your upper legs.

Wall Squats

Ask your surgeon before attempting wall squats after your spine surgery. Start by standing with your back to a wall.

A woman outside doing a wall squat with arm stretched in front of her.

Walk your feet out about 12 inches in front of you and bend your legs at a right angle.

Hold for five seconds before standing upright.

Ensure your spine remains against the wall and engage your core muscles. Repeat this exercise 10 times.

Abdominal Draw-Ins

First, lie down on your back. Then, bend your knees and put your feet on the ground.

Tighten your abs and press your back into the ground. Maintain this position for at least 10 seconds. Then, relax your abs and lift your back from the floor.

Repeat this core exercise 10 times.

Stationary Biking

A stationary bike is an excellent piece of exercise equipment for post-spinal surgery physical therapy exercise.

Consistent biking will help improve your blood circulation and strengthen your heart. Make sure to complete this exercise for 20 to 30 minutes regularly.

A man exercising on stationary bike.

How to Continue Healing after Back Surgery

After having any type of back surgery, exercising consistently and following a workout regimen is crucial.

Exercise, whether at home or the gym, helps reduce post-surgery back pain and improves motility and core strength.

If you’re ready to start exercising or discuss which post-surgery exercises are best for your recovery, book an appointment with Paspa Physical Therapy in Manhattan, NY, or book your appointment online.

Book an Appointment

Book an appointment with us at Paspa Physical Therapy in Manhattan, New York, for a consultation and customized program to cater to your specific needs.

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