OT Tips for returning home after back surgery

OT Tips for returning home after back surgery

Returning to your daily activities after a back surgery can be difficult and demanding. After surgery you’re usually taught to avoid bending, lifting and twisting to ensure a safe recovery.

Here are a few ways to complete your daily activities while adhering to your spinal precautions. For more information on recovery, check out this article here.


  • Avoid bending over to put on shoes, socks, or pants.
  • Instead, try crossing one leg over the other while lying down or sitting.
  • Consider using tools like a sock aid or reacher for assistance, or ask family members for help.


  • Avoid twisting when cleaning yourself after toileting.
  • Consider using a toilet or wiping aid for assistance.
  • Take care not to strain during bowel movements, remember to breathe and relax.
  • Using an elevated toilet seat or commode chair can make sitting and standing easier and prevent back strain.


  • When using the mirror, bend at the knees and hinge at the hips instead of leaning forward.
  • Spit into a cup instead of leaning forward when brushing your teeth, or bend your knees and hinge at the hips.


  • Use a shower seat if you tire easily or are unsteady on your feet.
  • A hand-held shower handle can make showering easier.
  • Consider using soap on a rope, soft soap liquid pump, or a soap mitt to avoid bending over.


Grocery shopping after back surgery
  • Carry light loads, less than 5-10 lbs at a time.
  • Balance bags equally between your hands and ask for assistance when needed.
  • Avoid carrying items heavier than 10 lbs.

House Cleaning

  • Avoid strenuous house cleaning tasks for the first three weeks after surgery.
  • Clean small areas at a time and take breaks.
  • Avoid bending at the waist; instead, bend your knees, hinge at the hips, or lean down on one knee.


  • Keep your child close to the side of the tub and close to your body when bathing.
  • Avoid bending or twisting when placing your child in a car seat.
  • Consider having family help with childcare tasks, especially lifting babies or toddlers for the first three weeks after surgery.


  • Consider hand washing dishes and letting them dry on the top shelf of the dishwasher or countertop.
  • Store dish soap and other items at waist or shoulder level for easier reaching.
  • When standing, ease back pain by opening the bottom cabinet under the sink and placing your foot on the edge of the cabinet.


  • Avoid driving for the first four weeks after surgery.
  • Be careful not to twist when getting into a car; sit down first, then turn your leg and body into the car simultaneously.

Desk Work

  • Sit in a chair where your feet can reach the floor and your elbows are bent at approximately 90 degrees.
  • Ensure your keyboard and computer monitor are positioned correctly to avoid excessive bending or twisting.
  • Use a lumbar roll for additional back support and take breaks to walk around and decrease back soreness.

Following these guidelines can help ensure a smoother recovery process and minimize strain on your back after surgery. Always consult with your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.