Re: 6 foot 8 man, experiencing back problems. Has recently had an operation
Hello Sir, and welcome to the board!
What kind of surgery did you have and how long ago? You should probably be cleared by your doctor before starting anything strenuous.
There are some very good exercises you can do that won't put a lot of stress on your back. I hate to pass the buck, but a good therapist is the best one to show you, as she/he will know your exact situation. A good therapist can custom design and exercise program just for you.
But in the meantime, you can work your abs without any weights like this:
First, the inner muscle, that is, the transverse abdominus: lay on your back with your knees bent. Put your fingers into your hip bones so you'll feel if the muscles tighten. The idea is to NOT feel any muscles tighten for this one. Pull in on the muscle by trying to "pin" your belly button to your back. It takes some practice to be able to pull in that muscle without tightening the outer muscle. Once you are able to contract the inner muscle without tightening the outer muscle, do three sets of 10, hold each time for 5 seconds. Repeat twice a day, or more if you're able. Once you get really good at this, you can do it anywhere, in any position. I still do it while driving all the time.
Second, the outer muscles, the internal obliques: again, lay flat on your back. Picture a pin or stick pointing straight up in the air from each of your hip bones. Now, try to move those imaginary sticks towards each other. This time, you'll be able to feel those muscles contracting if you put your fingers in your hip sockets. Do three sets of 10, holding for 5 seconds each time. Repeat twice a day or more if you're able.
If you want to add a third muscle set in, tighten the muscles in your bottom and below/beneath your bottom. My therapist called this the saddle muscles. Once you get really good at all of these muscle groups, combine them. The saddle muscles and the obliques are very useful together to form a "sling" to help you move more easily on the seat of the car, etc, when your back is compromised.
I'm afraid I don't have any really good back muscle exercises without some machinery. But keeping those core muscle strong will go a long way for you! Maybe someone else will chime in with something specifically for the back.
I hope this is helpful.
Your back buddy,