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Post Fusion Back Exercises - Is it safe to Arch the Back???

Liz49LLiz49 Posts: 39
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:56 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi Everyone,

I had a L4/5 TLIF one year ago next week. I felt good and have been very active but not crazy. The PT I did was ok but not helpful enough for my residual leg muscle atrophy (caused by the nerve impingement and poor walking/posture for years). So I've been seeing a personal trainer who has been very helpful with pinpointing exercises for my leg and hip pain. But she gave me some arching exercises that may have hurt my fusion. Does anyone know anything about such a thing happening after arching the low back and mid-back?

Thanks ....



  • Your trainer may be great, but might not have enough knowledge about postop care for fusion patients. Call your surgeon about the arching exercises, because I just saw my physical therapist today; we were working on stretching exercises, and she stressed the point of NOT arching.

  • My PT had me arching my back today. With the screws and rods, the area that was fused can't move, so when i do bend/arch it doesn't do anything. Each doctor has different views though.

  • I am 18 months post fusion at L4/L5 and haven't been arching my back during exercises, but I have daily spasms in the morning where my back arches up strongly. I hope that it doesn't cause any problems.

  • Ok ladies arching as in going into extension/backwards? Or arching as in bridging and going into flexion/forward?

    So some surgeons just freak out over bending, period. Some don't. Mine was big on exercise and I was in PT very soon after my fusion surgery.

    Traci's comment is true to a point. You can't bend more than the rods and screws allow in extension. Or so you think. You can bend back more than you should though. If I go way back in extension the rods will hit my bones and actually ride up on them in the higher part of my back. My fusion is L5/S1, so not so far from L4/L5. If I go back too far it will hurt and I will get a sore back. Has it messed up my fusion. No.

    I'm almost 2 years out and exercise pretty hard. It's a big variety too, weights, aerobic, plyometrics, pilates, yoga, kempo, resistance, tons of crunches and push up variations. The worst for me is plyometrics when you start jumping and/or jumping/twisting. Makes my back ache. The other is a simple yoga pose like Cobra with my knees off the floor so my weight hinges on my hands, hips, feet. That puts a lot of strain and load on your lower back. It hurts. So I don't do it with big extension.

    Now arching as in moving forwards. Heck I can touch my toes all day long with no pain from hardware. In fact leaning forward and working my way down feels very good and loosens up my back. My hamstrings are so damned tight all the time. My favorite exercise is a piraformis stretch. I feel really good after.

    Your doctor will tell you what s/he wants. Then your PT will do what they think needs to be done. Some PTs are not that good at rehab therapy like sleepergirl said. Make sure the one you use has rehabbed back surgery patients before.

    Now is it likely you bent back and "broke" your fusion. Not really. Unless you are a china doll or brittle bones. We take a lot more beating than most think. That's why I laugh when I see some posts of people waiting a year to exercise or something. For a single level fusion. That's absurd (personal opinion).

  • I was using her words "arching" as the laymans word for spinal extension.

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