How to Run After a Spinal Fusion

Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure that joins the vertebrae in your spine together. This procedure reduces pain caused by medical conditions that include degenerative disk disease, spinal stenosis, fracture or tumors. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, vertebrae that do not move should not produce pain in the back 2. The procedure reduces flexibility in the back; however, most people are able to return to an active lifestyle after completing a recovery period under a physician's care.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Walk for a distance up to one mile on a flat surface four to six weeks after surgery. Consult your physician prior to walking for exercise to verify you are ready to begin an exercise program.

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Maintain proper posture while walking, and move at a comfortable pace that does not put strain on the back. Stop walking if you feel pain or discomfort any time during the walk, and consult with your physician prior to continuing with the exercise program.

Increase your walking distance three months postsurgery based on your physician's recommendations. According to the University of Washington School of Medicine, you can include swimming, bike riding and light jogging on level ground to your exercise program if your physician gives you the all clear.

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Return to full exercise activity approximately six months postsurgery, after physician approval.

Walk for a minimum of five minutes to warm up the body muscles before running. Ask your physician for recommended stretches for the back and legs and complete these prior to running.

Run slowly on level ground for 20 to 30 minutes. Stop running or slow your pace if you experience pain or discomfort. Do not attempt hills as this puts strain on the back. Contact your physician if you experience pain that does not go away with rest.

Increase your running distance as the body strengthens and heals. According to, increase the distance no more than 10 percent each week to prevent injury to your back and to give the body time to recover and respond to the increase in duration.