Setting spinal goals is important for an individual’s treatment plan to ensure a thorough and successful recovery following:

  • Surgery
  • Trauma
  • Spinal condition

When developing goals with a surgeon or spine specialist, utilizing a well-known method known as SMART is recommended. Individuals are encouraged to set goals to accomplish personal growth and improvement. It is a model for forming goals and objectives that for medical purposes include:

  • Pain management
  • Physical Rehabilitation
  • Mental health
  • Exercises
  • Stretching
  • Anti-inflammatory diet

Spinal Goals

S.M.A.R.T Spinal Goals

The acronym stands for:


  • Target a specific area for improvement.


  • Find ways to track progress.
  • This could be fitness trackers, daily journaling – writing, video, health coach, etc.


  • Determine if the goal is achievable.
  • Figure out what tools or skill sets are needed to reach the goal.


  • Results-oriented goals.
  • Measure results or output, including accomplishments.

Time Frame

  • Set goals within a doable time frame.

Goal setting helps individuals monitor their progress when recovering from injury, surgery, and/or spinal conditions. Making goals smaller makes it easier to achieve improvements. It’s recommended to have a partner assistant during the goal-setting because the pain can compromise decision-making. Pain affects the mind’s abilities to assess improvement and treatment response rationally. Taking the most important goals and focusing on small building blocks helps individuals maintain motivation during a long recovery process.

Difference Between Goal Setting and Treatment

A standard treatment plan is structured for a specific result and is not set up for adjusting the way goal setting does. A treatment plan is created and prescribed to a patient with little patient input. Goal setting is a collaboration between a patient and a doctor setting objectives as stepping-off points to achieve goals. Goal setting empowers patients with education, skillsets, and tools to succeed and continue that mindset as their lives move on. Achieving short-term goals helps individuals reflect positively on small gains that set a solid foundation for more challenging future goals.

Spinal Treatment Goals

Goals are personalized/custom-tailored to the individual’s case and condition. For example, a patient could set a goal of returning to weekend sports activities. Therefore, achieving the goal could require the individual to engage in exercise five days a week for the next two weeks that could include physical therapy rehabilitation:

These activities are small goals that help the body adapt to handling additional physical stress.

Goal Setting When In Recovery

Spinal issues are dealt with by creating reasonable small objectives to reach a goal. SMART goal setting is an instrumental framework for medical providers to help identify what is important to the patient. Modifications on SMART goals can be done to adjust to the individual’s needs. Spinal goals help patients accomplish what is necessary, keeping them empowered and motivated.

Body Composition

Too Comfortable With Goals

An individual may have a great deal of success doing the same workouts initially but then notice they’re getting easier and are not seeing the same rate of progression. That same workout routine, same weights, and equipment will only go so far in goal achievement. In recovery, as the body gets stronger and fitness levels improve, it is recommended to consistently challenge yourself to avoid falling into a rehabilitation fitness plateau. Part of the recovery process is to change up workouts to challenge the body to achieve optimal health and healing. Individuals are recommended to:

Increase weight and or reps

  • Increase the amount of weight or the number of reps in each set.

Increase or decrease the tempo

  • Shorten the rest period between sets to keep the heart rate high or slow down to focus on muscle contraction.

Experiment with different types of workout sets

  • If you’ve been doing the same kinds of lifts, try drop sets, supersets, or AMRAP (as many reps as possible) to challenge your muscles differently.

Learn new exercises

  • Individuals doing a lot of weightlifting are recommended to engage in plyometric body exercises.
  • Individuals doing high-intensity interval training are recommended to incorporate a long run or bike ride.

Changing the workout routine will keep challenging the body, which is great for health progress.


Alexanders, Jenny et al. “Goal setting practices used within anterior cruciate ligament rehabilitation: An exploration of physiotherapists understanding, training, and experiences.” Musculoskeletal care vol. 19,3 (2021): 293-305. doi:10.1002/msc.1535

Bovend’Eerdt, Thamar J H et al. “Writing SMART rehabilitation goals and achieving goal attainment scaling: a practical guide.” Clinical rehabilitation vol. 23,4 (2009): 352-61. doi:10.1177/0269215508101741

Haas, B et al. “Rehabilitation goals of people with spinal cord injuries can be classified against the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health Core Set for spinal cord injuries.” Spinal cord vol. 54,4 (2016): 324-8. doi:10.1038/sc.2015.155

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Spinal Goals" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez
Specialties: Stopping the PAIN! We Specialize in Treating Severe Sciatica, Neck-Back Pain, Whiplash, Headaches, Knee Injuries, Sports Injuries, Dizziness, Poor Sleep, Arthritis. We use advanced proven therapies focused on optimal Mobility, Posture Control, Deep Health Instruction, Integrative & Functional Medicine, Functional Fitness, Chronic Degenerative Disorder Treatment Protocols, and Structural Conditioning. We also integrate Wellness Nutrition, Wellness Detoxification Protocols and Functional Medicine for chronic musculoskeletal disorders. We use effective "Patient Focused Diet Plans", Specialized Chiropractic Techniques, Mobility-Agility Training, Cross-Fit Protocols, and the Premier "PUSH Functional Fitness System" to treat patients suffering from various injuries and health problems. Ultimately, I am here to serve my patients and community as a Chiropractor passionately restoring functional life and facilitating living through increased mobility. Purpose & Passions: I am a Doctor of Chiropractic specializing in progressive cutting-edge therapies and functional rehabilitation procedures focused on clinical physiology, total health, functional strength training, functional medicine, and complete conditioning. We focus on restoring normal body functions after neck, back, spinal and soft tissue injuries. We use Specialized Chiropractic Protocols, Wellness Programs, Functional & Integrative Nutrition, Agility & Mobility Fitness Training and Cross-Fit Rehabilitation Systems for all ages. As an extension to dynamic rehabilitation, we too offer our patients, disabled veterans, athletes, young and elder a diverse portfolio of strength equipment, high-performance exercises and advanced agility treatment options. We have teamed up with the cities' premier doctors, therapist and trainers in order to provide high-level competitive athletes the options to push themselves to their highest abilities within our facilities. We've been blessed to use our methods with thousands of El Pasoans over the last 3 decades allowing us to restore our patients' health and fitness while implementing researched non-surgical methods and functional wellness programs. Our programs are natural and use the body's ability to achieve specific measured goals, rather than introducing harmful chemicals, controversial hormone replacement, un-wanted surgeries, or addictive drugs. We want you to live a functional life that is fulfilled with more energy, a positive attitude, better sleep, and less pain. Our goal is to ultimately empower our patients to maintain the healthiest way of living. With a bit of work, we can achieve optimal health together, no matter the age, ability or disability.