Post-Surgery Recovery and Summer Activities: A Guide for Back Surgery Patients

Summer is a time for fun, relaxation, and outdoor activities. However, if you’ve recently undergone back surgery, you might be wondering how to safely enjoy the season while continuing your recovery.

The most common types of back surgeries include discectomy (removal of herniated disc material), laminectomy (removal of part of the vertebra to relieve pressure on the spinal cord), and spinal fusion (joining two or more vertebrae to eliminate movement between them). According to the Mayo Clinic, these procedures are usually recommended when conservative treatments fail to alleviate symptoms​​.


Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you navigate summer activities post-back surgery.

Understanding Your Recovery

Recovering from back surgery involves a careful balance of rest and activity. It’s essential to follow your surgeon’s and physical therapist’s recommendations to ensure a smooth and successful recovery. Here are some general tips to keep in mind:

Follow Your Post-Op Plan: Stick to the prescribed physical therapy exercises and attend all follow-up appointments. A physical therapist might prescribe at-home exercises such as gentle walking, pelvic tilts, leg slides, and bridge exercises to aid in the recovery and strengthen the back muscles following surgery.

Listen to Your Body: Pain and discomfort are signals to slow down or modify your activities. If you experience sharp pain, numbness, tingling, increased weakness, unusual swelling, or loss of bladder or bowel control after back surgery, stop exercising immediately and consult your healthcare provider.

Gradual Progression: Increase your activity level gradually to avoid setbacks.

Safe Summer Activities

Engaging in light, low-impact activities can be beneficial for your recovery. Here are some summer activities that can be enjoyable and safe post-back surgery:


Walking is a low-impact exercise that promotes circulation and aids in recovery.

Choose flat, even surfaces such as parks or walking trails.

Start with short walks and gradually increase the duration.


Swimming is an excellent low-impact exercise that reduces strain on the back.

Opt for gentle strokes like the backstroke or sidestroke.

Avoid strenuous swimming activities and high-impact water sports.

Yoga and Stretching:

Gentle yoga and stretching can improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension.

Focus on poses that don’t strain your back, such as child’s pose or cat-cow stretch.

Avoid any movements that involve twisting or excessive bending.


Cycling on a stationary bike can be a safe way to stay active.

Ensure the bike is adjusted correctly to maintain good posture.

Start with short sessions and monitor your body’s response.

Tips for Outdoor Activities

When engaging in outdoor activities, consider the following tips to ensure your safety and comfort:


Stay Hydrated:

Drink plenty of water, especially in hot weather, to prevent dehydration.

Carry a water bottle with you during activities.


Wear Supportive Footwear:

Choose shoes with good arch support and cushioning to reduce impact on your back.

Avoid flip-flops or sandals that offer little support.


Use Sunscreen and Protective Clothing:

Protect your skin from sunburn by applying sunscreen and wearing a hat.

Opt for lightweight, breathable clothing to stay cool.

Avoid Prolonged Sitting:

If you’re attending outdoor events or traveling, take breaks to stand and stretch.

Use a lumbar roll or cushion for added support if sitting for extended periods.

Modify Activities as Needed:

Don’t hesitate to modify or skip activities that cause discomfort or pain.

Communicate with your physical therapist about any concerns or questions.

Activities to Avoid

While it’s important to stay active, certain activities can be risky post-back surgery. Avoid the following to prevent complications:

High-Impact Sports:

Sports that involve running, jumping, or sudden movements can strain your back.

Heavy Lifting:

Avoid lifting heavy objects or engaging in activities that require excessive bending or twisting.

Intense Cardio Exercises:

High-intensity exercises like running or aerobics can put undue stress on your back.


Recovering from back surgery during the summer doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun. By following your recovery plan and choosing safe, low-impact activities, you can enjoy the season while promoting your healing process. Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new activity, and listen to your body to ensure a smooth and successful recovery.

Physical Therapist in Everett, Snohomish County


Engaging in physical therapy is crucial for successful recovery. It helps reduce pain, strengthen muscles, minimize scar tissue, and improve joint mobility and overall stability. Patients who adhere to a structured physical therapy program generally report better outcomes than those who do not​. If you’re in the Everett area of Washington, we’d love to see you at our physical therapy office—we’re a top rated provider!

Embrace the summer with a mindful approach to your post-surgery recovery, and enjoy the benefits of staying active and healthy.



Leave a comment

Skip to content