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Tips for Strengthening Your Back Following a Microdiscectomy


Patients are often advised to take steps to strengthen their back muscles after any type of spine surgery. With a microdiscectomy, this typically means muscles in the core area and lower body. Patients are generally advised to begin a muscle-strengthening routine six weeks post-surgery, although there are additional steps you can take to strengthen your back after a microdiscectomy. This article discusses ways to boost strength in your back while recovering after a microdiscectomy.

Starting Slow

Start by seeing what your doctor recommends as you heal and recover after your
microdiscectomy. Check with your doctor again as you increase your post-surgery back-strengthening routine. Your doctor can provide tips to reduce the risk of unintentionally reinjuring the affected area or damaging nearby discs. It is also important to go at a slower pace at first to reduce the risk of reherniation or reinjury.


Most patients can safely walk shortly after microdiscectomy surgery. Walking is highly adaptable, since you can put one foot in front of the other at any pace that is comfortable for you. Walking also boosts circulation while stimulating muscles that support your spine.

Hamstring Stretches and Leg Raises

Located along the back of the thighs, hamstrings need to be strengthened after surgery to ease direct pressure on the spine. These muscles can be targeted with gentle stretches, which can be performed while lying down to ease stress on your healing back. Leg raises also strengthen muscles that indirectly support the spine. Your doctor may also recommend
sciatica stretches to ease pressure on the sciatic nerve.


Since it is a more controlled form of exercise, yoga can be an effective back-strengthening option. Due to the many variations with poses, it is possible to target muscle groups that directly and indirectly support your spine. Yoga also increases flexibility, range of motion, and stability while rebuilding back strength. However, avoid poses requiring excessive bending or stretching until after your recovery period.

Extension Exercises

These types of exercises stretch the back gently while also rebuilding spine strength. One way to perform extension exercises is to rest on your stomach and support your upper body with your arms placed below your shoulders. When performing this exercise, lift yourself upward and rest on your elbows. Continue the stretch until you feel it extending to your back.

Water-Based Exercises

All muscles that support the spine can be safely and effectively targeted while in water. The buoyancy reduces pressure on recovering tissues without minimizing the stimulation that strengthens your back. Water-based forms of exercise that are generally considered safe for recovering microdiscectomy patients include:

• Water yoga
• Water-based aerobics
• Swimming
• Walking in water to create some resistance

Working with a Physical Therapist to Develop a Routine

It is highly recommended to get personalized back-strengthening recommendations from a physical therapist or similar specialist. You will likely start in a more controlled setting like a PT center during the early stages of recovery. As you regain back strength, you will also receive advice about exercises and routines you can safely do on your own beyond your recovery period to keep your back-supporting muscles strong.

Even though discectomy surgery is a common and generally quite successful procedure, a hole is frequently left in the outer wall of the disc. In fact, patients with these large holes in their discs are more than twice as likely to reherniate. Reherniations often require additional surgery or even fusions. Fortunately, there is a new treatment specifically designed to close the large holes that are often left in spinal discs after discectomy surgery. Barricaid is a bone-anchored device proven to reduce reherniations, and 95 percent of Barricaid patients did not undergo a reoperation due to reherniation in a 2-year study timeframe. This treatment is done immediately following the discectomy—during the same operation—and does not require any additional incisions or time in the hospital. 

If you have any questions about the Barricaid treatment or how to get access to Barricaid, ask your doctor or contact us at 844-288-7474.

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