Exercises for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery

Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Exercises Recommended by the Best Neurosurgeon in West Palm Beach

If you are in the spinal cord injury recovery phase — following a spinal cord injury — it’s unlikely be in better hands with Dr. John F. Morrison of The Morrison Clinic. Dr. Morrison believes that even if you have a spinal cord injury, you still can and should be physically active. There are different types of exercises you can do to regain strength and mobility all while being safe and sticking to things you truly enjoy doing. A good exercise program will feature stretching, aerobic exercise, and strength training. Here are some ways to implement each category of exercise.


You may have stiff muscles and joints as a result of your SCI, so be sure to stretch all of your major muscle groups; the shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles are common areas of tightness after an SCI, so focus on those areas. Stretching can be done by yourself, but you may find it easier (or more fun!) to do it with an athletic trainer, physical therapist, family member, or friend.

Try to stretch most days of the week, and if you can manage it, try to do it a couple of times per day. It doesn’t take very long at all. Start out by gently stretching each muscle group for at least 30 seconds, then take a short rest and repeat the stretch a second time, trying to go a little bit deeper. It’s always a good idea to stretch before and after aerobic exercise and strength training. Some examples of stretching include using an exercise band, doing yoga, or doing stretches braced against a door frame.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is great for your cardiovascular health and will help you gain back strength and mobility in your back and other muscle groups. There are three phases of aerobic exercise. First, it’s important to warm up by stretching and maybe doing a slow version of your activity, e.g., walking before jogging. Then, you’ll do your intended exercise at an intensity that feels right for you. Then cool down by decreasing the intensity of the activity and doing some cool-down stretching. Some examples of aerobic exercise are speed walking, jogging, swimming, and playing basketball.

Strength Training

Strength training is all about building up the muscle groups that have weakened during your SCI recovery time. What muscles you want to focus on will depend on the nature of your SCI, so talk to your spine surgeon about what muscle groups they think you should target. Try and do each exercise at least 5 times per side to start, then take a break and do another set. You want to push yourself to build your strength, but not to the point of overextending yourself either.

Pacing Your Exercise

As little as ten minutes of physical activity per session can benefit you on your road to recovery. Start small and lengthen your sessions as you go – the more exercises you do, the more benefit you’ll get. Give yourself permission to rest, start slowly, and take plenty of breaks. Yes, you’re building up your strength, but you’re also recovering from a traumatic injury, so don’t overexert yourself and risk additional injury or unnecessary pain. And if you don’t like a particular activity, that’s okay! Pick another one. There are so many types of exercises available to you that sooner or later you’ll find one you like to stick with.

Schedule a Consultation with One of the Top Spine Surgeons in Palm Beach County

If you have suffered from a spinal cord injury and are looking for a neurosurgeon in West Palm Beach, the experts at The Morrison Clinic have years of experience treating all types of spine and brain conditions. And we don’t just treat your condition – we treat the whole patient. Schedule an e-consult today with Dr. Morrison to get started on the road to recovery.