These exercises are designed to help you start to ease back into heavier activities, exercises, or sports. As you know, you should only start these exercises once you are cleared by your medical team to do so. It is important to work on both mobility and flexibility in your upper body to regain your function!

Bird dogs

This exercise is great for strengthening core, hips, and shoulders. It can also be helpful for people trying to manage low back pain! You can make this exercise easier or harder in a lot of fun ways – could use weights, exercise bands, or try balancing a stick along your back!

-While on hands and knees, engage the core to keep back flat/neutral. Reach opposite arm and leg straight out, hold the position and then bring arm and leg back in. Alternate to the other arm and leg. 
-If this is too challenging, could always do just arms or just legs, or do a smaller reach.
-Make sure to keep your back flat, don’t let your hips rock side to side too much, and don’t hold your breath!
-The more narrow you position your hands/knees, the harder it will be.

Peanut Rocks

This is one of my favorite ways to self mobilize my upper back. The nice thing about this is that you can position the tennis balls at whatever area feels best for you. You can also do this with a foam roller if the tennis balls is too intense! I usually like to keep the tennis balls at level of my shoulder blades – that’s where I feel the best stretch

-It’s hard to see in the video, but I took 2 tennis balls and put them in a sock to make a “peanut”, and then I positioned it mid back so that my spine would be in the divot between the two balls. You could also use a foam roller, or a rolling pin wrapped in a soft towel.
-Position your object at mid-upper back.
-Lie on the object with knees bent, hands behind head, and elbows close, then rock back into a stretch. Hold briefly, and bring chest back up.
-You can adjust the balls/object higher or lower depending on where it feels best for you.

T SPINE ROtation

This is another great mobilization for upper back, but also for your chest and shoulders. Putting a foam roller or pillow under your knee keeps you from rotating your lower body so that you can focus the stretch on your upper half. If having your arm straight out is too much stretch, you can bend the elbow (put your hand behind your head) instead.

-Lie on your side with your top knee propped on a foam roller or pillow. Arms are straight out in front of you.
-Top arm opens up as your upper body rotates, should feel opening in the chest, and a rotation stretch through the trunk. Hold the stretch and then rotate back to the starting position.
-Repeat on each side. You should be moving slowly and into a good stretch, not pushing into pain. Remember to have your head follow along!

Check out Paige doing these moves too!


You should always consult with your medical team before attempting any of these exercises or any new exercise activity in general. Particularly if you just had surgery, make sure you are cleared by your medical team before trying any new activities or exercises. These exercises are designed as general advice/knowledge, not specific treatment. These are exercises that have worked for us (myself, Paige, and Joslynn), but every body is different, so make sure you listen to yours! What works for me may not work for you. A good Physical Therapist is a valuable tool if you need more specific guidance and treatment – you can find a PT in your area using the APTA or AAOMPT websites.