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1+ yr post op: how much continued stabilization/strengthening?

yellowyyellow Posts: 7
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:51 AM in Exercise and Rehab
I'm just over a year post ALIF and pretty much recovered from the surgery. I was very, very good with my PT (core stabilization and strengthening) both before and after surgery.

At about 7-8 mos post op I decreased the frequency of doing the core work to 2-3 days per week, about 30-40 minutes per session. I admit that lately it's been more like 2 days per week and not 3. I am active otherwise (a lot of walking and easy trail running) but am wondering if I need to work another day or two per week of the stabilization back in.

Here's the deal: I still have some pain, but it is greatly diminished. All of the months of rehab did not do anything for the "residual" pain. Doing the exercises is painful, especially those that involve extension. The physical therapist did tell me way back when that they might hurt when I did them but as long as the pain subsided within a half hour or so that I should not let it stop me from doing the exercises. I am surprised that I still manage to feel pain and fatigue when I do the exercises, and am wondering if maybe 2x/week is not enough.

For those of you that are at least a year post-op, how much time do you devote to stabilization and strengthening?

Suffice it to say that I am not excited about devoting more evenings of my week to doing more exercise. Between trying to do the 2 days of exercises and the running/walking usually 4 days/week and then doing something fun with the family the 7th day, my brain just does not want to take it on. Plus standing at a desk all day (I cannot sit comfortably, so I stand) wipes me out, and I am just plain tired. When I get home from my walk I want to just hang out on my heating pad before I make dinner or whatever.

I realize it's individual, but I'm struggling with the mental and physical uncertainty of just how much I should be doing. I'd be interested to hear what your routines are like.

Thanks in advance.


  • I think the fact that you do a lot of exercise is awesome! Most don't. As soon as they get signed off from PT they just do nothing. Self motivation to exercise is difficult.

    I do 4 nights a week of exercise. It is mixed cardio and strength training. Has lots of stretching also. It does take about an hour per routine. I enjoy it and that helps. I actually look forward to it and do it when I get home from work. Then later in the evening I take the dog for a walk. That's about 1-2 miles. I don't run at all and was told to avoid it. I tried doing some light running and the pounding just doesn't work for me.

    I'll take the core workout over any of the other exercises any day. That and then stretching the lower back, hamstrings, and calves.

    Like you I can't sit all day. I get up and stretch or sit on an exercise ball some of the time. I opted not to have a stand up workstation. Although it is setup to do that. I also have a zero-g type chair that I can roll back pretty well. I just find it annoying to use and gave up on it.
  • Four nights a week! Wow! I think I will try to get more consistent with 3/week. We'll see what that does to my mental and physical energy.

    I'm going to continue running because I can. My surgeon, physiatrist, and PT are all fine with it. In fact my physiatrist told me to run as much as I can. I do think that someday I might not be able to, so I'm going to keep at it while I can. I never run on the road, only trail.

    One thing I have not returned to is weight training. I am a bit terrified of this. I used to do quite a bit of Oly lifting (light) before surgery and this is the one thing that the surgeon was pretty adamant that I be very, very careful with (I have another disk with an annular tear and pretty sizeable displacement and narrowing, and that disk might or might not be causing my sitting problems...but that's another story). I am doing a lot of running now because I signed up for a couple of trail races but have told myself that after they are done that I would try lifting again. I'm sure it will be fine. I think I mostly need to wrap my head around what "no heavy axial loading" is (those were my instructions). In other words, I need to figure out what "heavy" is. Note that I am a slight, small female. I am still shying away from carrying heavy things (like a bag of dog food). I think it's mostly my brain that is the problem :S

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  • Be very very careful is right. Especially free weights and doing squats. Honestly I would avoid squats like the plague. Don't even take that risk. The one place my surgeon was adamant was that. No weight above the head/shoulders over 50lbs. Preferably not over 35lbs. And I'm 18 months post op.

    I do move 50lb objects but I don't move them over my head and it is not part of my exercise routine.

    When I do core and resistance work. I use either my own body or mix dumb bells and bands. The most basic of exercises like push-ups and crunches but with variations to protect my lumbar spine. The rest I use dumb bells one time then bands the next. It makes a good mix for muscle confusion.

    Nothing I am doing is going to make big muscle. Not even where I am trying to go. I need lean and mean, not bulk.;-)

    When I started I did the 1st 90 days doing 6 days on and 1 day off. Every other day mixed cardio with core. That got me through level 1-2 then 3-4. Those are 30-45min routines. Now I do 4 days and I'm doing level 5-6 and above. Those are 1 hour routines. I also do some separate stretching beyond that once a week. A routine that is dedicated stretching with mixed pilates/yoga/plyometrics.

    I feel much better about myself both physically and mentally doing it. I actual get bummed now if I start slacking off.
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