If you’ve ever been to a cocktail party, you know upon entering the room the range of topics you could possibly explore with another person. So say, maybe you’ve just had Lumbar Spinal Fusion Surgery. Great. This means a couple of crucial things for you. Hopefully, it’s been some time since you’ve had this surgical procedure because standing around for long periods of time with a drink in your hand might be a bit strenuous on your still-healing spine. Sometimes alcohol can be a good friend in this fragile recovery time, but let’s think of more healthy ways to address this. Let’s think of possible exercises that can help heal that slim column that holds your thinking and feeling nerves together. This article will address the healing moves and hopefully make you a standout conversationalist in that cocktail party. Someone, anyone will be impressed by that impressive 9 syllable procedure you just went through, and it will be up to you to illuminate them on the ins and outs of your newly fused spine.
Your spine is the best friend you never realized you had. It supports you no matter what (ba-dum-pum) and it allows you to bend and do all the marvelous things like yoga and petting that dog in the park and let’s not forget the classic dance moves like the Cabbage Patch and the Running Man. If you’ve gone through all the non-invasive procedures of alleviating pain and it hasn’t worked for you; If you’ve gone for your MRI and CAT scan and your doctor has informed you that your spinal canal is shortening (this is called Spinal Stenosis) then you are a good candidate for Lumbar Spinal Fusion Surgery. The procedure, according to webMD, “fuses two or more bones so that the joints can no longer move…this helps stabilize sections of the spine where the vertebrae has been removed or loosened.” Removing parts of the vertebrae is performed in a procedure called decompressive laminectomy. This relieves pressure on the spinal cord and the spinal nerve roots (like the Sciatic Nerve) thus minimizing everyday back pain.
Here are some gentle moves that will aid you in the recovery process. It is important to remain active during the recovery period (which could be for a few months) according to Spine-Health.com, otherwise the inactivity will weaken the supporting muscles of your stomach, back and legs and that is the opposite of what you want to achieve. Spine-Health.com suggests the following: First day after the Surgery: Go for a short walk and continue to walk throughout this time, increasing the duration of the walks as you feel more able. Moving will increase blood flow in your body and good circulation means faster healing.
Week 1: Stretch! Any movement that stretches the hamstrings (back leg muscle) or the quadriceps (the muscles in your front thigh) is helpful. Stretching should be held for 30 seconds, with three repetitions, two sets a day. You can perform the stretches while seated at a chair for hamstring stretches, or lying on a flat surface to flex your quadriceps. Illustrative Stabilization Exercise Movements: Pelvic Tilt- This is a subtle move with big results. It requires lying on your back and slowly pulling the small of your back (where it rounds gently) to touch the floor. This keeps the lumbar spine stable. Modified Sit-Ups: Keeping your shoulders as stable and as still as possible, lift your upper body about an inch off the floor. This works your abdominal muscles and keeps them engaged to your spine. Upper Body Movement: Using an elastic band, wrap it around a stable object. Then pull gently in a rowing motion to engage the upper back area. Leg Exercises: March in place, but only 3 or 4 inches off the floor without swinging your pelvis. After 6 Weeks: You are ready for more dynamic exercise! You can use a resistance band to help you with isometric movements that will strengthen your muscles. An exercise ball will also help you stabilize your core and keep your movements isolated. Also, purchase a mat to perform floor exercises.Floor Movements: Abdominals- Lie on the floor with the knees bent and then curl up, moving your head and shoulders towards your opposite hip a few inches. Back- While on your hands and knees, alternate raising one leg and one arm on opposite sides. Switch and hold for 30 seconds. It is important to keep in mind that all of these exercises be supervised by a physical therapist so the proper form is achieved and further injury can be prevented. You will be doing the Running Man before you know it!