Looking for good workout for five year recovering L5 / S1 herniated disk

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 26, 2007 3:05 PM GMT
    I have been seeing a chiropractor who is f**kin' amazing. My symptoms are going away! I don't have tightness in my left hamstring, and much fewer shooting pains. Although I'm recovering, I know I shouldn't do any squats or exersizes to work my quads.

    So now I'm just focusing on my chest, isolating my arms, and working my back and shoulders.

    I'm not sure what else is really safe for me to work.

    Any suggestions on exercises to avoid or go after???
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 27, 2007 8:22 AM GMT
    Core strength with closed kinetic chain activities using non-ballistic movements. Sauerman self-directed strain/counter-strain stretches of the multifidi (the paraspinal muscles of the lower and mid-back) with progressive use of gravity based resistance are a great initial approach to regaining function.

    Yoga - done in a controlled way with a savvy, sports-minded instructor will do wonders for core strength, balance, tone and coordination, and prevention of future injuries. Yoga will also tune you in to any loss of protective reflexes that you may need to learn to respect as you return to normal activity. Some of the "systems" of Yoga are not flexible enough to account for the differences that a post-operative athlete brings to the studio. I would not try Bikram or similar rigid programs initially. Find a good guide at a private yoga studio who isn't going away soon - you'll pay more, but get much much more in that setting.

    I would also advise against forming a dependent relationship with a chiropractor. Find one who supports and encourages all the active forms of rehabilitation I have discussed here - in fact print this off and ask for their guidance in enacting the steps that make sense for you.

    If your chiropractor (or Physical Therapist) won't guide you in this way, I suggest finding an evidence-based provider who will. Some more experienced gym-based personal trainers may also feel comfortable with these concepts - but you would need to interview them closely for their actual experience with spine recovery. Otherwise, use the trainer as a resource for identifying which pieces of equipment can help you safely meet your goals, and rely on a guide with more medical/rehab training for specific answers.

    You should probably consider putting the free weights away, and focus more on the activities listed above, plus consistent cardiovascular activities. Pick two of these that you like, and alternate them. Each activity puts a slightly different stress on the spine - remember that variety and movement are important to avoid reloading a healing disc or facet level:

    !)Cycling (high seat, straight leg pump, handle bar extender with a mountain bike grip bar)

    2)Swimming (start with a snorkel and fins if you have residual pain)

    3)Elliptical trainer (vary the height and resistance to your tolerance, but don't be afraid to push your window here - not all central ache is warning of impending disc, and may just signal instability which requires weightbearing functional strengthening to improve and limit chronic pain). Combine this with active lower abdominal strenthening to your tolerance and ALWAYS use an active pelvic tilt to keep the LS region stable and supported during weight bearing exercise.

    4)Fast walking is good - running may not be good until you are months (more than six, at least - but this is an opinion and not evidence based) - in EXCELLENT shoes or orthotics.

    5)Review your occupational risk factors for recurrent back and disc disease - modify everything you can NOW. Don't screw up this chance to get back to and keep a "normal" life.

    Anything that brings out lateralizing hip or leg pain is not good. You probably do have tethering scar tissues around the nerve root - as you become more active you may experience positional numbness out in the lower leg/ankle region - like a memory of where the pain was before. This will happen as you become more active periodically and is a normal process to go through as the nerve roots become mobile again (unless you have had a severe situation or a post-operative complication such as hematoma or infection which will possibly slow things down or not fully resolve). Continue to work through that, but stop if referred leg pain occurs.

    Try supine lumbar extension after workouts if your have increased lower back pressure. Have someone provide counter-pressure for a gentle fulcrum to extend against onto your elbows gently and hold for up to 10 seconds. Some careful spine ossillations by a partner (trained directly by your Physical Therapist or Chiropractor in the correct technique and amount of pressure to apply) over the lower lumbar vetebra following these extensions can really free up workout stiffness for those of us who are post-laminectomy.

    I had a bilateral L4-L5 lami about 14 years ago. You are on the right track if you are motivated to get moving and stay/become fit. Avoid weight creep as time goes by - that will add further stress load to your at-risk disk levels above or below the operative site.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 27, 2007 4:58 PM GMT
    Wow. Thanks Mike. I appreciate the advice, and I will definitely take it into consideration.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 28, 2007 2:12 AM GMT
    Late to this thread, and agree with Caution. Have a few more thigns to add...

    "Core' means the entire trunk and hip muscular and skeletal structures. However, the most important spine stabilizers are basically the multifidus and transverse abdominals. While one can voluntarily contract the transverse abdominals with some training, the multifidus cannot be singulary and voluntarily contracted. Since the orientation of multifidus fibers are short and almost horizontal (unlike the other long extensor spinal paraspinals) it does not do a great job at trunk extension. The only way to fire these fibers is through isometric resistive trunk rotation. You can achieve contraction of both the multifidus and transverse abdominals with a lot of "core" training, specialized therapy exercises (which I will not go into details here), and other well known techiques such as Pilates (I actually send a lot of my patients to Pilates with great results.)

    Another factor is life style, and this includes body mechanics as Caution mentioned, but also habbits like smoking, which decreases the tensile property of the disc annular layers and also dehydrates the disc nucleus.

    Running is not a great idea for acute or healing disc. After you are fully healed, and you have achieved good core control and strength, go ahead, run...

    Actually Core gave most of the advise I would have given... Good luck!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 28, 2007 5:51 PM GMT
    Excellent advice guys.

    I'll make sure to avoid jogging until I'm ready for it.


  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 12, 2007 2:22 PM GMT
    God, I just temporarily stopped seeing my Chiropractor and happened to worked my lats... that pull on my spine was enough to f**k me up royally. I'm in more pain now than I was before I went to the Chiropractor.

    I think I def. need to go back AND I need to give weights a rest for a while.
  • UStriathlete

    Posts: 320

    Jul 12, 2007 3:11 PM GMT
    Pilates. Pilates. Pilates. Pilates is your best form of workout for not only lower back, but in general.

    find a pilates instructor that specializes in spinal rehab. or a CHEK certified trainer.

    if weight training training isn't done with correct form and proper weight, you obviously can hurt one's self. work with professional for a few sessions.

    it seems from reading mosts post, no one goes and gets professional help. it would element many, many, many mistakes and of course time of being injuried.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 22, 2007 8:02 AM GMT
    I agree with USTriathelette I have had a L5S1 disc prolapse for 2 years now and Pilates is the best way to go they work your core well and help strengthen your whole body. but i would also see a Physiotheripist as much as i love my chiro it wasn't until i seen my Physio that i really got progress.

    As for it healing this is an injury that will not heal it will get better and stay better if you maintain your core, and stretching is also a very good thing as well especially your Hamstrings.

    Anyway i hope your getting better as it was a while ago that you last posted on here.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Nov 24, 2007 6:13 AM GMT
    Hey newtosport !!! sorry that you apparently reinjured your self to some degree. These gentlemen on here are very inteligent, so be sure to "listen up" and take it from me having had a spinal surgery (cervical blown disc, W/calcium build up W/pinched nerve between c-6/7) to repair pinched nerve causing extreme pain in my right arm, numbness and loss of strength. (the Neurosurgeons went in from the front of my neck, and drilled out the calcium buildup/damaged disc, and installed a replacement bone, plate of steel and four screws, to hold the vertebrea in place. I have damage to 3 or 4 other places in my spine, about the most aggrevating is the sciatic nerve, and sciatica (reoccuring pain in upper leg and butt)(PAIN IN THE ASS) (LOL !!! ) Take it from me, if you can possibly follow the advise thats been given and thereby AVOID SURGERY if at all possible. Once your spine is invaded surgically, you will lose some vital energy/strength that seldom returns you back to where you were. So be patient with yourself on recovering, perhaps take up swimming frequently which will strengthen many muscle groups without the stress of weights. You don't want to end up with all the troubles many like me have. Good luck to you !!! Dennis
  • rmauch

    Posts: 2

    Jan 22, 2008 10:23 PM GMT
    I am about three months post surgery from a herniated L5-S1 disc. I went to see a neurosurgeon and ultimately had a microdiskectomy. I was feeling almost back to normal about a week after surgery. I m now back to work and feeling great! I am working out again and like those above me recommended, I did spend some time with a personal trainer. I am taking it easy, but things are going well. If surgery is going to be needed, see a neurosurgeon!! I did and don't regret it at all!!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 13, 2011 10:45 PM GMT
    icon_biggrin.gifHi ive had 5 back opps L4 L 5 you must take it slow and easy you will know what you can and cant do takecare