5 Spondy Goals You Should Set

Spondylolisthesis Spondylolysis Goals

With the New Year upon us, the tradition is to set a New Years Resolution that will dramatically transform your life for the better.

The most popular of these resolutions tend to be losing weight, saving money, improving at a hobby, quit smoking or simply improve overall health.

The problem?

According to a recent study on New Years Resolutions produced by statisticbrain.com, out of those polled who set resolutions less than 10% (9.2%) report feeling that they were successful.

  • 48% report having infrequent success.
  • 42% report never succeeding.
  • And only 44% report having kept their resolutions for longer than 6 months.

I  experienced this first hand working in a gym for several years. It was like clockwork every year. January 1st the gym phones would ring like crazy with tons of determined individuals. By February 1st, a good majority of them had fallen off the wagon.

The stats clearly show that resolutions simply do not work very often. Most people are motivated by the time or dates associated with the resolutions and not the fact that they are truly motivated to accomplish these goals.

This is part of the reason that I am not a big believer in New Years Resolutions. I have never really set any serious resolution goals. Instead I use the Holiday as a time of reflection to think about what I did in the previous year and what I can improve upon as a whole.

I am a big believer in goals, just not resolutions motivated by a time or date that occurs once a year.

The stat I would love to see is how many people would actually set resolutions if there was no New Year Celebration or Resolution trend?

I bet the number would be really low.

Here is my challenge to you:

Instead of being motivated by the date or Holiday, I encourage you to be motivated by the simple fact that YOU want to improve. And you want that improvement to begin NOW.  Not tomorrow, not next week, not the beginning of next month…but RIGHT NOW.

That is the only way you will improve or accomplish your goals.

With that being said, let’s look at 5 goals that I believe Spondy patients should start trying to accomplish RIGHT NOW. These goals will help put you in the best possible situation to improve upon how you move and feel.

But remember, YOU need to be motivated internally to improve. Not motivated by a date that comes once a year.

Goal #1: Visit more than 1 doctor

Before I get started with this goal, please keep in mind that one of the main goals in searching for a doctor is to find someone that is knowledgeable and informed on spondy’s and is someone you trust and believe in.  Unfortunately, this is often very difficult for spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis patients, often leading to distrust in the whole system and giving up too easily.

If you have located a doctor you trust and believe in, please skip on to Goal #2. But I would be willing to bet most of you have not.

On the surface, this goal sounds really simple and many will wonder why this should even be a goal.

However, from my personal experience and from exchanging hundreds if not thousands of emails from readers, one of the hardest things for spondylolisthesis patients is finding a doctor they trust and believe in.

I believe there are two reasons why spondylolysisthesis and spondylolysis patients struggle with finding a doctor they like.

1. Personality 

Spondy patients want answers. It really is that simple. There are so many unknowns with this condition and true answers to the many questions spondy patients have are hard to come by.

Many of the doctors I saw for my condition were very tough to talk to, making getting answers very difficult. They seemed rushed, short on time and some even acted like they did not care.

They did spend the time to get to know me and communicate with me.  Their personality seemed more like a robot than a human.

And from various emails I get I find this to be a common problem. It really is hard to find a doctor who seems to care and who has the personality to relate to their patients.

2. A Lack of Solid Approach to Helping Spondy Patients

There is no universal approach to helping spondy patients. Unlike a broken arm where 99% of the time doctors take the same approach because it has been proven to work, spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis patients have so many characteristics that make each situation unique I believe it is hard for doctors to come up with an approach that works for everyone.

This is part of the reason why you read or see some methods or rehabilitation approaches working for one spondy patient and creating more pain for another.

The traditional approach by doctors of trying rehab and then moving on to another method if one basic attempt fails is – in my opinion – flat out unfair to the spondy patient.

There needs to be a better approach universally. I think some doctors get this and have developed a great team of rehab specialist and others to help them narrow down various factors leading to discomfort. Unfortunately, most doctors I believe still have an old-school approach.

They are quick to find methods of pain relief (pills, shots, and surgery) without addressing the cause of the pain for the patient first. Until this improves, Spondy patients will continue to have trouble finding relief or improvement on many of their doctor visits.

Pills and surgery are too often the go to method of recovery for spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis patients.

Doctor’s opinions vary so much when it comes to spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis rehabilitation methods. Some doctors are conservative with their approach; some are more aggressive and loose with their recommendations.

Some doctors refer to surgery right away; others try anything and everything to improve before surgery.

Some doctors have treated and worked with thousands of spondy patients, while some have seen very few.

Some doctors are down to earth and very relatable, others are just plain hard to talk to.

The list of what makes one doctor unique and different from another can go on and on and is further proof why it is so important to not give up or feel helpless after one visit to the doctor.

Personally, I visited multiple doctors. And it took me years and failed attempts before running into one that I trusted, provided me with helpful feedback and helped my condition by pointing me in the right direction.

Do yourself and your spondy a favor and go out of your way to visit more than one doctor this year. It will help to put you in the best position possible to move and feel better.

Goal #2: Get a detailed full body assessment

For our loyal readers you already know how much we preach and believe in full body assessments.

I have already written a ton of information on this topic and instead of repeating myself I provided some links to the most helpful blog posts I have written on the topic to date.

I encourage everyone to click the links below and read about the importance of full body screens and how they can help you.

How Poor Movement Can Affect Your Spondy – And How To Fix It

Screening For Spondylolisthesis and Spondylolysis

3 Helpful Do’s And Don’ts of Spondylolisthesis Exercise

After gaining a full understanding of the topic, your next step is to locate someone and set up an appointment.

I recently wrote this article that explains in detail how to find someone to help you:

How To Locate A Rehab Professionals For Your Spondy

If you would like to be guided through the process of finding help, then check out our Step-By-Step Improvement Path to see if it’s right for you.

If you truly desire to move and feel better I encourage you to put your busy lifestyle aside for a day and get an assessment.

Doing so is not the end all be all to improving your spondy, but it is a step that many spondy patients leave out and an important one to try.

The simple purpose of a fully body assessment (and there are multiple choices out there) is to consider that there may be significant contributing factors to your struggles that go beyond your low back’s structure.

Too often in today’s medicine, doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, and others get caught up in treating the site of pain (your back). But restrictions or compensations elsewhere may be “driving” that low back issue (your spondy, your pain, your tightness, etc). You must look beyond the low back to have an idea of what is really going on.

I truly believe as a spondylolisthesis patient it is important to give every non-surgical approach a try before committing to surgery.

In my opinion, getting a full body assessment is one of the most important steps people do not take.

Goal #3: Focus and work on your biggest weakness every day, for 1 month

The third goal is built upon the premise that you have met with a professional and had them evaluate your overall movement.

Now make sure they have shared the results with you. And more importantly make sure you understand what they are talking about.

Start off by making sure to ask these questions:

1. What are my biggest weaknesses?

These can vary from individual to individual, but some of the most common ones that we have run across are:

•      Poor pelvic control

•      Improper breathing patterns

•      Muscular asymmetries or imbalances

•      Poor hip and core firing patterns

•      Weak and tight thoracic spine

•      Weak and tight hips

2. What can I do on my own to work on these weaknesses?

The professional should be able to target your weaknesses with specific exercises, movements and stretches to help improve upon these areas. The end goal is to get you moving better as a whole.

It is common to think that a few quick, generic stretches a couple times a week will be enough to have you moving and feeling better.  Or that visiting a therapist twice a week for 30 minutes is all you need to find long-lasting improvement.

spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis stretching

It will take more than a few generic stretches to get you moving and feeling better.

But if that is all it took, you (and so many others) would not have to search so hard for answers in order to feel better.

Your movement issues or weaknesses were most likely brought on over time from repetitive patterns that have become the “new normal” for your body.

And to break free from what you perceive as normal, you have to focus on those biggest limitations and work on them consistently. Effort is required — without it you may struggle to find improvement.

Your body will not fix these issues on its own, it takes consistent work. And yes, that will require your time and energy. But it is not as daunting as you may think.

So here is a great way to create a new habit to work on your biggest movement-related issues.

Once you have had your full body assessment from a professional and you have had a discussion with them on your weaknesses, it is important to dive a little deeper into the questions you asked earlier. As a follow up to the two questions I posted above, ask them what is the one area that is possibly affecting your spondy the most at this time.

Once you get your reply, ask them the 3 most beneficial exercises, stretches or movements that you can do on your own and on a daily basis to improve them.

The professional should have a printout of the exercises (picture and written description) to help you follow along with PROPER TECHNIQUE, as this is key.

Now the important part…

Set aside 15 minutes every day for an entire month. You need to find just 15 minutes. No matter how busy you are, you should be able to find 15 minutes IF you really want to.

When I did this, I got up 15 minutes earlier. You could do 15 minutes at night after the kids go to bed. You could do 15 minutes during your T.V. time at night or 15 minutes over your lunch break. Whatever it is, think hard about when you can find 15 minutes to dedicate to improve how you feel.

It is important you find a time that you will NOT be interrupted. You want to be able to focus on your weaknesses and not rush through them. One of the main reasons people have poor technique during exercises and stretches is they are rushed (or just have not been properly instructed). Make sure you take your time and perform each exercise with a purpose.

I also recommend printing a calendar and keeping it somewhere you can see it every day.

I use this web site as it is super simple to print a calendar.

Every day that you accomplish this task make a big “X” through the day. This not only gives you a visual, but it will also help to motivate you. Your goal is to fill 30 straight days of “X’s” without breaking the chain.

If you make this your ONE BIG goal or focus for every day you should have no problem accomplishing it. But it HAS to become your focus.

After 30 days, see how you feel and if necessary schedule another meeting with the professional to have a follow up evaluation to see if your weakness has improved. I would be willing to bet that it does.

Goal #4: Keep a journal for 1 month

I have written about keeping a spondy journal in the past and you can read that post here:

Spondylolisthesis Therapy Tip: Keep A Journal

As I discuss in the blog post, the main point of keeping a journal is for you to recognize or discover certain things that are giving your spondy problems.

It might be a daily habit you have, a specific exercise that’s giving you pain or even something as simple as a pair of shoes you are wearing.

The simple point of keeping a journal is to help you narrow down things that are giving you pain.

Once you have this information you can cut back on the movements, activities, postures, or accessories that you associate with feeling worse.

For example, during the height of my pain I was having “flare ups” on a monthly basis and I never could understand why. They seemed to have no rhyme or reason so I started recording everything I did to see if I could find a pattern.

spondylolisthesis journal

Keeping a spondylolisthesis journal is a great way to discover possible causes of your flare ups and pain.

Sure enough, I ALWAYS had a flare up associated with two things (it was like clock work).

The first was being inconsistent with my exercise. If I was lazy, went on a trip for a week, skipped workouts or laid around for a few days I would ALWAYS have a flare up.

The second thing I noticed was I was more vulnerable with a specific movement when I worked out. So if I was too aggressive and did not control my position, a flare up would soon follow. Exercising was NOT my problem. My issue was needing to slow down a specific activity to make sure I was in control of the correct position I needed to be in.

Once I discovered this I was able to cut down on my flare ups almost completely. I developed a plan to avoid being inactive (even if it is something as simple as one or two exercises when I am traveling) and I worked on my weaknesses that I believed were leading to the pain from being too aggressive with certain activities.

The point is I never would have discovered this without a journal.

Goal #5:  Pick 5 ways to move more

I am sure you are aware of all of the studies over the years on the negative effects of having a sedentary lifestyle.

I could go on and on about the negative effects of sitting all day. From the increased risk of health issues to the negative effects scientist are finding it has on our brains. More studies are also showing the effects it has on our breathing patterns, which in turn can wreak havoc on our posture.

But instead of spending time listing the negative effects, let’s talk about the positives that movement has on our bodies and a few ways you can achieve more movement.

One thing I made an effort to do more of in 2016 was to take more walks. I went out of my way to get in as many walks as I could during the week. I even set my alarm 30 minutes earlier in the summer so I could get out and get a 2-mile walk in. I almost always took my 1 year old who loved them as well.

The benefits from this were amazing.

I felt more “alive”, more aware and healthier. On days where I was unable to get a walk, I noticed I was a bit more agitated and grumpy.

Moving around as a whole (especially outside) gets your blood circulating, your mind working, and you become more alert. Especially after sitting all day behind a desk or in a cubicle at work.

I have no scientific evidence of this next statement, but I am very convinced that walking outside (even for short distances at a time), can aid in the body’s ability to recover.

It could be the increased blood flow, the mental stimulation, or the muscle activity that is involved, or a combination of all of the above.

Whatever the case, I find taking a simple walk as being both mentally and physically important.

The next best thing to taking a walk outside is moving around in general. I think the worst thing you can do is to remain sedentary.

With that being said, I understand pain and discomfort plays a huge role in how much you want or feel like you can move. I have been there, trust me.  If you are just starting to experience pain and discomfort then rest and recovery is obviously goal number one.

As always, you should discuss with your doctor before beginning any physical activity. But, if you have been in a constant state of pain, then making an attempt to move more may actually be a good thing for you both mentally and physically.

I also understand a job, a busy lifestyle, or poor weather may make it hard to get outside for a walk on a daily basis so I encourage you to find ways to simply move more.  I am not advocating for some crazy, over-the-top movement plan.  I challenge you to add simple things that force your body to move more than you currently are. Over time, you can gradually add more and more movement.

Let’s look at five simple things that you can do to add more movement to your life.

1. Walk

As I mentioned walking was a great addition for me in 2016. I enjoyed each and every walk and I plan on keeping it in my weekly schedule.

Start small with a 10-minute walk. Go around the block. Take a short walk at lunch while at work. Try a small walk in the evenings with family. Any of those would be a great way to make getting a short walk part of your daily habits.

2. Wake up earlier

One way to move more is to be up more. Even waking up 15 minutes earlier and avoiding hitting that snooze button allows you to go for a walk, stretch, foam roll or just move around the house before “life” gets too busy and excuses pile up.

3. Park further away when you go places

Think about the times you drive and pull into a parking place. Sometimes you may spend minutes circling the lot looking for the closest parking space to the entrance.

Instead of doing this, I encourage you to park in the lonely spot way away from the door. This allows you to get in a few more steps. Doing this for a month straight will add several thousand steps to your movement.

4. Take the stairs

If you live in a building, work on the fifth floor, or have any other opportunity to use stairs then do so.

Walking up stairs is a great form of exercise as it forces you to “rediscover” new movement patterns and increase your “movement diet”.

5. Stretch or Foam Roll during T.V. commercials

This is one of my favorites. Use the “wasted time” during the commercials of your favorite show (do not just fast-forward through commercials). Grab a foam roller and target a specific trouble spot, or focus on comfortable breaths while stretching.

Instead of remaining seated this whole time you could be up and moving.

With a New Year upon us it creates the sense of a fresh start. What better time to take every attempt at moving and feeling better than now?

To review here are the 5 Spondy Goals I encourage you to try starting now!

1. Visit more than 1 doctor

2. Get a detailed full body assessment

3. Focus on your biggest weaknesses for 1 month

4. Keep a journal for 1 month

5. Move more

I hope you find this information helpful in your journey.

Please drop a comment below and let me know what you are doing to move and feel better for this year. Sharing your experiences only makes our community that much better for all of the spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis sufferer.

 Name: Email: We respect your email privacyPowered by AWeber Email Newsletters 

Tags: ,

Leave A Reply (No comments so far)

No comments yet

 Name: Email: We respect your email privacyPowered by AWeber Email Newsletters 
 Name: Email: We respect your email privacyPowered by AWeber Email Newsletters