Spine Conditioning Program

After an injury or surgery, it’s important to follow a recovery plan that puts you on a path to improved mobility, strength and health. Our physicians and physical therapists are dedicated to creating personalized recovery plans to condition and strengthen the affected area of your body.

Conditioning programs consist of exercises that help the rehabilitation process, focusing on strength, target muscle areas and flexibility. They should always be catered to your specific goals, injuries or post-surgical status. At Rebound, we recommend speaking with a physician or physical therapist prior to beginning a program (safety should always be priority!).

Here are some basic spine conditioning program exercises recommended by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and Rebound physicians and physical therapists. For a complete list, click here.


Be sure to stretch prior, even though many conditioning exercises are stretches or prolonged postures. You should also do simple, low-impact activities like walking, knee marches or stationary bike.

Start from the top!

Head and neck roll stretches are a good way to increase the neck’s flexibility and range of motion.

  • Start by slowly lowering your chin to your chest.
  • Next, roll your head to the right, placing your right ear above your shoulder. Hold this position for around five to 10 seconds while flexing your right hand.
  • Repeat this action on your left side.
  • Carefully do this in clockwise and counterclockwise motions.

Practice extending your back

This exercise is very similar to postures you will see in yoga. Lower your body to a stable, flat surface on the ground. To reduce any pressure or pain on the knees, use a padded mat.

  • While kneeling, lean forward and place your palms directly aligned under your shoulders. Be sure that your hips remain level. Your gaze should be directed toward to the floor to keep proper alignment of your spine.
  • Round your shoulders and back up toward the ceiling and hold for five to 10 seconds (tucking your inward).
  • Next, round your shoulders and curve your spine/lower back downward. Hold for five to 10 seconds.

To end this exercise, rest your posterior onto your heels, draping your back over your knees with your arms extended. Your forehead should be placed gently against the mat or surface. This is referred to “child’s pose” in yoga.

Rotational stretches & side seat stretches

Both of these stretches should be done seated on a flat, stable surface.

Rotational stretches

  • Extend your legs directly in front of your body.
  • Cross one leg over the other, using your corresponding arm as support (slightly behind your back).
  • Carefully and slowly, twist your core away from your crossed leg. Using your opposite arm/elbow to apply pressure to the outside of your thigh may help you twist further.
  • Hold this stretch for 30 seconds or longer, then repeat on both sides.

Side seat stretches

  • Extend one leg, angled away from your hip, and bend your other leg so that the bottom of your foot faces the inside of your thigh.
  • Try not to curve your spine, and bend forward from the waist (reaching your hands toward your extended leg and foot).
  • Hold for at least five seconds, unless this pose is causing pain/discomfort.
  • Carefully round your spine and move your head toward your knee. For support, you can place your hands on your shin/ankle.
  • Repeat with other leg.
  • Ideally, you should hold this stretch for 30 seconds or longer.

Stretching and strengthening while lying down

Practice the following exercises while lying down on a flat, stable surface. Begin with a simple knee to chest stretch.

Knee to chest

  • Bring one knee toward your chest.
  • Hug your shin or knee to bring your leg closer to your chest, while keeping your spine pressed against the floor.
  • You may also flex your lifted foot while holding for at least five seconds.
  • Repeat with other knee. To end the stretch, hug both knees to your chest.

Bridge lift

  • Press your shoulder blades and spine flat against the floor.
  • Place your arms in a “v” shape, with your palms against the floor.
  • Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor.
  • With your abdominal muscles tightened, lift your pelvis and hips toward the ceiling. Be sure to keep your spine and body straight. It is also important not to dump weight into one hip/leg.
  • Hold this position, using your palms to balance, for at least 15 seconds.

As we age, it’s important to take measures to strengthen our muscles that protect our spine. Strengthening our spine can also help prevent injuries that may occur from something as common as a fall.

For a more complete list of helpful conditioning exercises, which typically include more strenuous exercises such as planks, click here. For a customized spine conditioning program, do not hesitate to contact us at 1-800-Rebound.

Rebound Resources:

Physical Therapy

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Other Resources:

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons – Spine Conditioning Program

Spine Health – Back Strengthening Exercises