Laminectomy Exercise Restrictions

Laminectomy is a surgery that relieves pressure on your spinal cord and nerves. This medical procedure, also called decompression surgery, can relieve the symptoms of a too narrow spine including pain, numbness, tingling and burning.

You can work your legs, but make sure to keep your back straight. (Image: primipil/iStock/GettyImages)

Recommended laminectomy recovery exercises and movement restrictions help prevent injury and promote optimal healing after this procedure. Follow exercise guidelines only after consulting your doctor.

Decompression with Laminectomy

A laminectomy removes the lamina, or back part of the vertebra covering your spinal canal. This procedure enlarges the spinal canal to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerves that occurs from a narrowed spine, or spinal stenosis. A laminectomy can be performed on your neck area, mid-back area or the lower-back portion of your spine.

If two or more of your vertebra have separated, you may also need another procedure called a spinal fusion. A spinal fusion connects, or permanently fuses, your vertebra together using bone grafts, metal rods or screws. Recovery and exercise restriction times depend on whether or not a spinal fusion was performed.

Exercise After Laminectomy Back Surgery

Your doctor will restrict your exercise after laminectomy back surgery — you must not bend, twist, push, pull or lift objects more than five pounds, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. However, you can lift light objects by using your thigh muscles to bend your knees as long as you keep your back straight.

Also, if your surgery involved the neck area, ensure that you do not bend or twist your neck. Avoid sports that involve lifting, bending and twisting such as weightlifting, baseball, tennis, racquetball and dancing until cleared by your surgeon.

Aerobic Restrictions After Surgery

Following a laminectomy, do not participate in aerobic activities that produce excessive movement of your spine and pelvis, such as running and jogging for at least ten weeks, according to Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals.

Avoid long walks initially, taking frequent, short, daily walks, instead. Alternate your short walks with rest periods and gradually increase your walking to 30 minutes at least twice daily. Depending on your progress and surgeon's advice, you may eventually add stationary treadmills and bicycles to your exercise regimen.

Laminectomy Recovery Exercises

Although weight training right after laminectomy isn't allowed, there are exercises that your doctor or physical therapist will prescribe for you during the first six weeks after surgery, according to Vancouver Coastal Health, to gently strengthen your abs and legs.

One of the first things you will learn is how to find a neutral spine. You can do this exercise in sitting or standing, depending on what is more comfortable for you.

  1. Sit or stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Tighten your ab muscles as if you are pulling your belly button back toward your spine.
  3. Stand up tall as if someone is pulling up up on a string, attached to the top of your head.
  4. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and down toward your back pockets.
  5. Pull your chin back slightly — your ears should be directly over your shoulders.

Keep a neutral spine throughout your daily activities to help protect your recent surgery.

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