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Yoga & Spinal Fusion

by
author image Aubrey Bailey
Aubrey Bailey has been writing health-related articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in ADVANCE for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy and Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University at Buffalo, as well as a post-professional Doctor of Physical Therapy from Utica College. Dr. Bailey is also a certified hand therapist.
Yoga & Spinal Fusion
Consult your surgeon before doing yoga after a spinal fusion. Photo Credit praisaeng/iStock/Getty Images

If you've had spinal fusion surgery, you might not be allowed to bend or twist for several months. However, there are plenty of yoga poses that keep your spine in a straight, protected position. As with any exercise, check with your surgeon to be sure these poses are safe for you.

Read more: Core Strengthening Exercises Post Lumbar Spinal Surgery

Mountain Pose can also be performed with your hands in prayer position.
Mountain Pose can also be performed with your hands in prayer position. Photo Credit fizkes/iStock/Getty Images

Mountain Pose

Mountain pose is a safe beginner pose that will improve your balance, posture and back strength after spinal fusion.

Step 1

Stand with your feet together and arms resting at your sides. If you have balance issues, stand with your feet slightly apart.

Step 2

Press your feet firmly into the ground. Slowly tighten your calf and thigh muscles. Keep your hips pointed straight forward.

Step 3

Breathe slowly and stretch your torso upward. Pull your shoulder blades down and back. Rotate your arms away from you so your palms are facing forward. Hold this pose for up to 1 minute.

Stand next to a stable surface if you are concerned about your balance during standing poses.
Stand next to a stable surface if you are concerned about your balance during standing poses. Photo Credit f9photos/iStock/Getty Images

Tree Pose

The Tree pose strengthens muscles in your hips, back and shoulders that support your spine after surgery.

Step 1

Stand with your feet together and arms hanging by your sides. Shift your weight to your right leg.

Step 2

Bend your left knee and grab your ankle with your left hand. Pull your heel up as high as possible and rest it on your right inner thigh. If this is too difficult, rest your heel lower down on your right leg. Avoid pushing the foot into the knee joint, however.

Step 3

Stand up straight and press your palms together in front of your chest in prayer position. Keeping your palms together, slowly press your arms up overhead.

Step 4

Hold this pose for up to 1 minute.

Use a support surface if needed until you master the Chair Pose.
Use a support surface if needed until you master the Chair Pose. Photo Credit RossHelen/iStock/Getty Images

Chair Pose

The Chair Pose gently stretches muscles in your back that are likely to be tight after spinal fusion.

Step 1

Stand with your feet together, or slightly apart if you have difficulty with your balance. Slowly breathe in and raise both arms straight overhead. Turn your palms in toward each other and squeeze your shoulder blades down and together.

Step 2

Bend your knees and sit backward as if you are going to sit in a chair. Continue lowering down until your thighs are parallel with the ground.

Step 3

Look straight ahead if you've had neck surgery. If not, look up toward your hands. Hold this pose for up to 1 minute.

Warrior poses can be performed in a series.
Warrior poses can be performed in a series. Photo Credit f9photos/iStock/Getty Images

Warrior III

Practice Warrior III with a partner until you are able to safely balance on your own.

Step 1

Stand with your feet staggered in a lunge position, approximately 12 inches apart. Reach both arms straight overhead with your palms facing each other.

Step 2

Support your weight on your front leg and keep it straight throughout this pose. Lean forward at your hips and lift your back leg until your arms, torso and back leg are parallel to the ground.

Step 3

Focus on a spot on the ground to help you balance. Hold this pose for several breaths, then slowly return to standing.

Read more: Top 10 Yoga Positions

Other Considerations

Yoga poses that involve spine twisting or extreme forward or backward bending should be avoided or modified after spinal fusion until your surgeon clears you for these activities. For example, the Cat/Cow Pose performed on your hands and knees involves arching your back then dropping your belly toward the ground as far as possible. This pose might be allowed earlier in the healing process if you limit the amount of movement in each direction.

Inform your instructor of your condition and definitely avoid any poses that cause pain. Talk to your doctor about which style of yoga is most appropriate for you as you recover from spinal fusion surgery.

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