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AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 4, 2018


Exercise for the Surgeon: Part 7 of Counteracting the Effect Surgery Takes on the Surgeon

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As the exercises become more advanced, it is important to always maintain good form. Form fatigue is a common source of injury and can decrease the effectiveness of the exercises. It is better to do fewer repetitions with correct form than more with incorrect form. If you experience pain during any of these exercises, it is best to stop rather than try to push past the pain.


To perform this exercise:

  • Use an exercise ball set up a wide footprint
  • Lower yourself onto the ball contacting it just above the hip
  • Flex the spine and the hip, conforming to the curvature of the ball (Figure 1). A slight bend of the knee is also expected.
  • With your hands behind your back to encourage retraction of the shoulder blades, extend through the spine, the hip and the knee bringing the body into a fully extended position all at once (Figure 2).
  • The shoulder blades should be retracted and depressed in the end position.

This exercise should not be done with added load as you are going from a flexed spine to an extended one.

If an additional challenge is needed for this exercise, it can be performed with the arms in an elevated position by locking fingers behind the head (Figures 3,4). The shoulder blades should still be retracted during the execution of the movement.

The back bend is a good supplement to the back extension.

  • Turn supine on the exercise ball with the thoracic spine in contact with the ball.
  • Keeping the lumbar spine neutral, extend from the hip and reach back with the arms overhead.
  • Extend as far as the thoracic spine will allow for a fully flexed shoulder (Figures 5, 6).

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