Spondylolisthesis Exercises To Avoid

Spondylolisthesis Exercise Pain

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One question I hear often is “what spondylolisthesis exercises should I avoid”?

I wish I could simply list off a few exercises, tell you not to do them and feel good about helping you out. However, the answer is much more complicated than a simple list of “don’t do” spondylolisthesis exercises.

In the video I below I explain why this question is much more complicated than it appears. I also demonstrate a few common exercises that may prevent problems for those with spondy’s.

After watching the video hopefully you have a better understanding as to why the only honest answer that can be given to this question without performing a screen on the individual is to simply state that all exercises that are performed incorrectly should be avoided by those with spondylolisthesis.

And unfortunately for spondy patients most of the exercises we try to perform are done incorrectly.

Let me explain this even further and again use the examples I did in the video above…….

What exactly is performing an exercise correctly?

First let’s define what performing an exercise correctly entails.  In my opinion performing an exercise correctly means you can go through the full range of motion of that exercise safely, under control with no compensations, and quality technique.

Sounds easy right?

Where most people run into problems is when they try to do exercises that require the recruitment of certain muscles groups or the recruitment of stability or mobility they do not have complete control over .

When this happens, compensations occur and the exercise ends up putting stress and strain on areas that are not meant to handle the stress.  Often times in spondy patients the stress is transferred to the hips and low back.

The result is pain, discomfort, tissue damage and a flare up. The exercise is then labeled as “bad” and dangerous because it caused the individual pain.

This is where misconceptions come into play.  Should the exercise really be avoided at all cost and labeled as “bad” just because the individual could not correctly perform the exercise?

Let’s use the same example we used in the video.

First you have Jim. Jim has very tight hips and performs a few sets of simple body weight squats.  He then performs a few standing rows with either a band or cable machine.

Then you have Mary.  Mary has very tight and weak shoulders.  She performs the same body weight squats and standing rows that Jim performed.

Both individuals have a grade 1 spondylolisthesis, but both suffer from different areas of weakness and tightness.

After performing the exercises Jim noticed that the body weight squats caused discomfort in his back and hips, but he felt fine after performing the rows.

Mary on the other hand felt fine performing the body weight squats, but was very uncomfortable performing the rows.

How is this possible???

They both have spondy’s and they both performed the same exercises. Yet they both experienced pain as a result of the exact opposite exercises.

Before we go any further let’s STOP and take a closer look…..

Spondylolisthesis Stop Sign

The tightness in Jim’s hips lead to compensations in his squatting pattern. Instead of the hips assisting in the full range of motion, compensation occurred due to his tight weak hips. His body shifted forward, his low back rounded to help complete the movement and he felt pain.

Mary on the other hand had very mobile and strong hips.  She completed the movement with perfect technique and the exercise was performed to perfection.  The squats targeted certain muscles of her legs and hips and she felt no pain.

In this case…..

  • Jim would think squats are dangerous to his back due to his hip weakness.
  • Mary would think rows are dangerous for her back due to her poor posture and shoulder tightness.
  • Both suffer from a grade 1 spondylolisthesis.

The rows performed by Jim were perfect.  No compensations and he felt great afterwards.  His shoulder felt strong and he even felt improvement in his posture.  But Mary had a rounded upper back, collapsed midsection and in her attempt to compensate she arched at the low back causing excessive stress around her spondy.

Mary felt immediate back pain and Jim felt benefit from the rows. Again, same exercise, same condition, but different results.

It would not be fair to label both rows and squats dangerous exercises for those with spondy’s.  In this case squats should be avoided for Jim and rows should be avoided for Mary.

Once strengths and movement patterns improve, we might go back and try these exercises again with Jim and Mary. Hopefully, the improvements and corrective exercises allow them to comfortably go through these movements with no pain.

They now receive the benefits of these exercises instead of pain.

In my experience I have had spondy athletes and patients perform certain exercises that I would NEVER have another spondy patient perform.  It really comes down to how YOU move as an individual.

This is the reason why getting a screen and starting a program that corrects your movement is so important.  Many skip this step and go right to exercising.

Before performing any exercise you have to have proper movement!

Otherwise every exercise you try to perform may add additional stress and make your spondy worse.

This is basic example and can change on an individual basis.  There are certainly exercises that should not be done by individuals with certain conditions.  But if you improve your movement first, then you can focus on exercises to avoid.

Most people perform exercises with poor technique and movement.  When that happens, pain is quick to follow and so are the inaccurate labels of un-safe or dangerous exercises!

If you are unsure where to begin with improving your spondylolisthesis or spondylolysis, make sure to check out our Step-By-Step Spondy Improvement Path.

So in a nutshell the question “what spondylolisthesis exercises should I avoid?” can be answered with a simple “any that are performed incorrectly”.  Because if any exercise is performed improperly, underlying conditions like spondy’s will be affected in a negative way.

Make sure you are performing your spondylolisthesis exercises correctly. If you are attempting exercises to help with your spondylolisthesis or spondylolysis make sure they are well explained and you understand them completely. Speak to your therapist, doctor, trainer or strength coach if certain exercises hurt or cause pain.

Always make sure you completely understand the correct way to do the exercises you are trying to perform.

For those wanting to learn more about how to properly perform exercises to address commonly affected areas in those with spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis make sure to check out SpondyInfo.com’s Home Exercise Program by clicking HERE.

We would also love to hear your feedback.

Let us know by commenting below if certain movements or exercises cause your spondylolisthesis or spondylolysis pain to flare up. You can learn a ton about spondy’s by reading our comment sections, we do our best to answer all questions with great detail.  Do not be shy about asking any spondy related questions below!

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Leave A Reply (44 comments so far)

  1. Ronald Lavine, D.C.
    5 years ago

    Excellent article.

    It’s a challenge to help people understand what constitutes “good performance” of an exercise without compensation, even when you’re teaching them one-to-one, let alone via an article on the internet.

    Oftentimes the only advice you can give is “If it hurts, don’t do it.” That’s true as far as it goes, but it can unfortunately lead to someone doing nothing, instead of modifying or simplifying the exercise so they can perform it. Better yet would be helping someone learn proper body alignment principles. (Hard to do online, though!)

    One value of your videos is that they show easy, medium, and hard versions of each exercise.

    • Spondy
      5 years ago

      Thanks for posting Ron! I think your points are all dead on.

  2. Mike
    4 years ago

    I’m a weight lifter with grade 1 spondy. I lift correctly, but feel significant pain after lifting weights over my head (overhead presses). Are there any weight lifting parameters for people with grade 1 spondy?

    • Spondy
      4 years ago

      Hey Mike,

      Great question. My past consisted of working with athletes and olympic weightlifters so my answer is strictly from my experiences not necessarily what doctors would consider parameters. We worked very closely with physical therapists in our facility and were always strict with not only the technique of the lifts, but also with an athletes overall movement. Before athletes even began training in our facility we would always put them through an extensive movement screen to determine if any past injuries, assymentries, or weaknesses might be affecting them currently or affect their lifting in the future.

      Even though someone may perceive to have perfect technique with lifts, we wanted to make sure the right areas of the body were enabling them to complete these lifts. The body is the ultimate compensation machine. Lets take overhead presses for example. An overhead press requires a great amount of stability, strength, flexibility and mobility in the shoulders, thoracic spine and all the way down to the torso and lower body. One problem we often noticed with individuals who complained of low back pain was a lack of proper mobility in the thoracic spine. Often times, these would be stronger athletes who could lift a significant amount of weight overhead. Often times they compensated and used their brut strength to complete exercises. Although they could lift the weight with what looked like good technique, more often than not the lower back (or other areas) was hyperextending to help pick up the slack for the lack of mobility in the shoulders and thoracic spine. The end result was a swayed low back with lots of weight overhead. This would lead to tons of stress on the low back to help the body complete the movement. Other common causes could be improper firing of the core musculature, an imbalance of hip musculature, etc, etc. These compensations were sometimes noticable with the naked eye, but a good rule of thumb I used was that the better the athlete, the better they were with hiding the compensations. That is another reason we relied on the screening process to help us determine movement issues.

      This wasn’t only overhead presses, it could happen on any lift. The point is that if you are experiencing significant pain with lifting something is not right. And since you have a spondy it might not take much to aggrevate the tissue surrounding your injured area. Somewhere along the line something is not functioning correctly and leading to this pain. Once a certain threshold is reached and the body can no longer perfectly perform a lift or a simple movement, something is going to compensate to help you complete that lift or movement. For some people that could be bodyweight exercises and for others that could begin with hundreds of pounds.

      It sounds like you have taken the first big step of seeing a doctor and getting a diagnosis. If that is the case, seek out a certified professional near you that can perform some kind of full body screen/evaluation on your movement quality to determine if you have any underlying issues that may be leading to this pain. I HIGHLY recommend the FMS (Functional Movement Screen) or SFMA. These are great screens and are used by several professional strength coaches in leagues such as the NFL to help screen their athletes. We discuss both of them on our “Spondy Toolbox” page on this website. Simply click on the link on the top of the page. You can then click on the screening information to find a professional near you to put you through this screen. In your case, since pain is present, I would look for a board certified physical therapist to perform the screen/assesment.

      Lots of times simple movement exercises added to warmups may be prescribed to help improve how you move thus allowing for a better quality of lift and better yet….more weight lifted with less pain!

      When I was working with athlete I never wanted to guess at what was wrong with them and I firmly believe that athletes should never guess at what is wrong with themselves. I wanted to perform some kind of objective test that could help lead to answers and improve how people moved and felt. And since I cannot physcial see you or put you through a screen over the internet I would highly encourage you to seek a certified individual who can do so.

      I hope this makes sense. Best of luck!

  3. DAniela
    4 years ago

    IVe just been told I have spondylolisthesis grade 2. I dont suffer from much pain, just recently I have had some back and right armstring pain but noting major. I am an acrobatic dancer and a runner (training for Shanghai Marathon this december). Ive been told to give up on these sports and just swim and do core and back strengthening exercise. Is that true?

    • Spondy
      4 years ago

      Thanks for the question Danilea,

      The good news is you do not suffer from much pain. That alone is very encourage and positive.

      It also sounds like you are very active and I understand how it can be very discouraging when you hear about how you should stop doing the things you love. I was in the same boat. I can tell you from my own personal experience I am able to participate in activities now that were once unable for me to do. This was after I worked on my personal weaknesses. But that is my personal situation.

      As far as the advice that you have received goes, in my opinion it really depends on so many variables. Some of the main variables rely on how your body moves as a whole, what your weaknesses are and what your strengths are. Keep in mind many are quick to give out the advice of “don’t do this or don’t do that” out of caution. Spondy’s are so different from person to person and many fail to recognize this.

      My advice would be to see or visit a few doctors who can provide you with different opinions or views on the situation. Tell them about your activites and how you feel. Find a certified professional who can administer some kind of movement screen and help you determine what your weaknesses are and how you can devise a plan to attack them (check out our spondy toolbox page for more info. on screens).

      The absolute best defense of a spondy is to have a well balanced, strong, stable and flexible body.

      From there the decesion is up to you. Again, each situation is so different so I cannot say you should do this or you shouldn’t. But I do know of one professional athlete that plays in the NBA who has a spondy and one very famous professional tennis athlete who had a spondy. Those are two of the most demanding sports on the body.

      Thanks for the question. Keep in touch with your progress and best of luck with your Marathon if you do go foward with it!

  4. Orla Browne
    4 years ago

    I was diagnosed with a spondolosis of the lower back when I was 19 and had X rays done It is in the left lower side of my spine and a part of the lower spine is catching on the nerve running down to my leg. When I was a baby they thought I had click hip however this was the problem and throught the years carrying heavy books to school and college my lower back pain slowly got worse. After diagnosis with the Xray they also saw I had a protruding disc which has also ruptured in the past. I go throught good and bad phases with pain however when I am in very bad pain painkillers are the only pain relief especially at nighttime in bed. I also work with children which doesn.t help my situation. Lately my back has been very bad painwise I am considering getting an MRI scan and see what the best treatment is after that. Would you agree this is the best option to take? Osteopaths and physios in the past have told me there is littlr they can do as its bone not muscle. What is your opinion?

    • Spondy
      4 years ago

      Hi Orla,

      Thanks for the question. It sounds like you have a long history of various back pain and injuries with a spondy being one of the many possible causes of your pain. I think your suggested path the right path for your situation. It is important to come up with some answers for your current state of your spine and possible pain sources. It may be the spondy, but you might also have some nerve compression, disc issues, etc as well. Especially if it has been a while since your last set of x rays. I understand how frustrating it can be when the osteopaths give these types of answers. But medicine is advancing very quickly these days and hopefully an updated set of MRI’s and x rays will lead your osteo to a diagnosis of your pain and allow him to provide a proper path and solution. An important thing to remember is that you do NOT have to stop with just one opinion or osteo visit. You have the right to take your MRI and x ray results to another doctor for a second opinion. I highly recommend this just to get a few different views. I would also recommend having one of those opinions being someone who is an expert on backs. That way you get an idea from a few different angles. If a doctor still gives you an answer such as you described before I would suggest heading to another doctor just for another opinion. I am sorry I couldn’t provide more answers or info, but someone in your situation needs to start with a medical professional and advance from there. Best of luck and keep us informed of your progress!

  5. Peggy
    4 years ago

    To Orla and those beginning the back pain diagnostics journey–MRIs or Xrays alone are not enough. MRIs are taken lying down, so are most Xrays. Those views are not WEIGHTBEARING, so a spondy diagnosed there says nothing about if it is mobile with activity. You must couple MRI results with X rays taken in a forward flexed position of about 30 degrees and one of backward extension of 10-20 degrees as well as rotation. The physician looks at the total sliding movement of the vertebrae during these motions. A grade I Spondy on a MRI may really be a mobile grade II spondy from Xray data. If the vertebrae slide 1 cm thru movement instead of <0.5 cm, the possibility of compression of the spinal cord or cauda equina nerves in the spinal canal is twice as much. Secondly, movement of an area that is supposed to be stable (the sliding, not actual forward flexion or backward extension will set up an inflammatory reaction at the facet joints. This swelling is what can make the compression on the spinal nerves worse. Advice to any new spondy….see a specialist that works with spondy cases frequenly.

    • Spondy
      4 years ago

      Thank you Peggy for the informative comment. This post will help many who are beginning their spondy journey!

  6. Shirley Burns
    4 years ago

    I was told that I had a “birth defect” by my family doctor after I delivered my 2nd daughter 33 years ago. My doctor said my pain was due to the muscles contracting to help hold my spine in place because one of my vertebrates did not develop properly. I didn’t experience anymore severe pain after the episode subsided. I’ve always excercised and always noticed that I couldn’t roll my back up one vertebrae at a time during exercise. A couple of years ago I noticed a little protrusion in my lower back and was starting to have some pain. New X-rays (different doctor) confirmed that I had grade 1 (12%) spondylolisthesis. I do core strengthening exercises and to this point have only experienced more pressure than pain in my lower back. The annoying thing is the protrusion….sometimes it is difficult getting comfortable while laying down or driving. I have heard of a fairly new chiropractic treatment called “pro adjuster” and wondered if you have had any experience with that treatment? I haven’t tried a chiropractor, mainly because it makes me extremely nervous to have someone manually manipulate my spine since it is already out of whack! Any direction and reassurance from you would be appreciated. Thank you

    • Spondy
      4 years ago

      Hi Shirley,

      Thanks for posting your story.

      As far as your protrusion goes the only thing I can do is to speculate. It could be this or it could be that. And this will not really provide you with much help and probably only provide you with more questions. When these situations or questions arise over the internet it is always best to seek help from a medical professional that can give you a physical look and answer these questions specifically for you and your situation.

      One piece of advice that I can provide is in connection to your “core strengthening exercise” statement and how you experience more pressure than pain in your low back. Make sure to read an article we posted on our site titled “Are Your Ab Exercises Hurting Your Spondy?” This will give you a detailed answer into why your core training may be hurting your spondy.

      As far as “pro adjuster” goes I am unfamiliar with this treatment. I have seen only a handful of chiropractors in the past and none of them used this type of treatment. I understand your issues with being nervous about a chiropractor as I was the same way. My only piece of advice is to make sure to sit down and have a talk with a chiropractor if you are contemplating moving forward with their treatment methods. Express your thoughts, concerns and most importantly, your background to them. If you then still feel uncomfortable with them you can always pass on treatment at that facility.

      I hope this answer has helped and best of luck!

  7. Sasan
    4 years ago

    Thanks for your useful information.

    • Spondy
      4 years ago

      No problem Sasan. Thanks for finding the site and I hope it helps you along the way. Feel free to ask any questions and best of luck!

  8. K Chin
    4 years ago

    To Orla Browne, I have Grade 1 (MRI) forward spondo L4/L5 osteoarthritic facet joints and L5/S1 slight bulge. I experience bad pain and tightness to my hips, glutes, thighs, shin and calfs ..I have consulted 2 neurosurgeons, 3 chiropractors, 2 physios and they all have different opinions…but they each provide new information to you about your condition…I am and hve been given exercises to strengthen my core muscles. The last chiro I consulted has a MR4 super pulsed laser…which helped me a lot with pain and inflammation relief and management. hope this helps

    • Spondy
      4 years ago

      Great information K Chin. Thanks for sharing your experiences with the Spondyinfo community!

  9. Lynn
    4 years ago

    Thank you for all this information, it’s very helpful.
    I was recently diagnosed with spondylolisthesis. I have had two injections in my back, and have had 4 weeks of Chiropractic treatments, none of which helped even a little. They tell me the next step would be spinal fusion surgery. After reading about the surgery, I am terrified to even consider it. My problem is with L4 -L5 , the vertebrae shift slightly when I move pushing into the nerve canal causing a lot leg pain in both legs. I do not have a lot of lower back pain, but I do have some. I’ve gained a lot of weight in the last year because of the pain. Not only would I Iike to lose weight before (if I would get the surgery) but I would like to know if losing weight along with proper exercise may help me avoid surgery altogether? Thank you.

    • Spondy
      4 years ago

      Hi Lynn,

      I am glad you are finding our information helpful. It is not a surprise that injections and chiropractic have not helped. This happens to many and sometimes it takes research, trial and error, and a little luck finding the form of treatment or rehab you personally need to improve upon how you feel. I am not sure what else you have tried or what your exact situation is, but in my opinion there are many more rehab variations you can try before leaping to surgery. I have always been a big believer that you should try to exhaust all options prior to committing to surgery. This includes trying various forms of therapy and rehab and speaking with a handful of doctors. First things first Lynn, I would encourage you to find a professional to evaluate your movement as a whole and see what movement issues you may have that may be playing a role in how you feel (this article will explain more: https://spondyinfo.com/how-poor-movement-can-affect-your-spondy-and-how-to-fix-it/).

      In my opinion, overall body composition does play a role in how you move and feel. But FIRST you must establish what your movement is like and improve upon that. THEN, with proper movement, you can use exercise in combination with an improved diet to lose weight. You can always start weight lose goals now by simply improving your diet. Keep in mind that a majority of weight loss comes from improving what you eat. You simply need to consume less calories than you burn. Where spondy people run into problems is the pain keeps them inactive. They may feel depressed or down and they sometimes cope by eating more. Thus leading to weight gain. Then, they really struggle to lose the weight due to inactivity. I do not know your exact condition and situation so I cannot say if you 100% WILL or WILL NOT avoid surgery, but I can say from the studies I have read that a large percentage of those with grades 1 or 2 spondylolisthesis or spondylolysis are able to avoid surgery with proper rehabilitation. Keep an eye out because I am going to be posting a blog on weight loss for spondy patients in the near future. I hope this response makes sense and will help you moving forward. Best of luck and don’t hesitate to ask any other questions along the way.

  10. John
    4 years ago

    hi, i have 1 grade spondylolisthesis and i am interesting, athletes can handstand with spondylolistesis?

    • Spondy
      4 years ago

      Thanks for the comment John. I am not quite for sure if you are asking a question or making a statement. I would love to answer any questions you may have. If you could, simply expand on your question and I can get back to you.

  11. Lynn
    4 years ago

    I have postponed my surgery to do more research, lose weight and strengthen my core. I have a grade 1 spondy which causes much leg pain in both legs. Sometimes I get a few jolts down my legs as well. I’ve been exercising a little more and losing weight and its making the pain a little less. I am curious if there are certain things I should avoid…such as swinging a bat or throwing a ball. I coach high school softball and last year when my pre-season started, that’s when all of this started. I recently started pre-season again for this year and noticed some things seem to cause more pain than others. Right now I have surgery scheduled for June 3, but I am hoping to feel better enough to postpone it again. Do you think putting it off is a wise choice?? Thanks for all the information you provide, it’s been a great help.

    • Spondy
      4 years ago

      Hi Lynn. When it comes to avoiding certain things that may be causing increased spondy pain it really depends on the person, how they move, what their injury background is like, and what the current spondy is like (type, grade, etc). Just like I mentioned in this article this can vary so much from person to person. Since I do not know anything about you and cannot see you move it really is hard for me to provide you with an accurate answer on what you should or should not do. However, if you have noticed that certain things cause more pain than others it may be a sign that you currently have some movement related issues present that may be leading to inflammation and increased pain. Unilateral movements (throwing) and rotational movements (swinging a bat) require the body to stabilize and recruit various muscle groups in a matter of milliseconds. If you do have movement related issues present this timing could be off leading to stress and inflammation of various muscle groups and tissues (low back perhaps). Also, if your goal is to lose weight and increase your core strength it is very important to have a clean bill of movement BEFORE attacking these goals. If not, you may be placing stress on certain areas with compensation patterns during exercise as well. I am a huge advocate of trying EVERYTHING before going under the knife. Have you tried physical therapy, massage of any kind, chiropractic work, etc. in an attempt to improve how you feel? My recommendation would be to use our spondy toolbox page (located here) to locate a professional in your area that is certified in the FMS or SFMA movement screens. Then give them a call and schedule an appointment to get evaluated. Once evaluated most professionals will provide you with the results and help you develop a plan to improve your movement. I would be happy to help you further if you have any more questions. You can email me privately at info@spondyinfo.com with any further questions. Best of luck!

  12. Hanna
    4 years ago

    Ahh! It’s so comforting to see this spondy community. I’m a new spondy, 26 y/o F otherwise unremarkable, I was so shocked to hear that I could have had an old athletic injury from when I was 8 or 9 years old. I don’t know what could have caused it but the most intense activity I’ve done so far was run a full marathon in Novemember of 2014. I’m and occupational therapist and I’ve been having burning low back 10/10 pain for the past three weeks. I was officially diagnosed by my ortho today and went immediately to start PT 3 hours later. However, here is my concern-my therapist is new and I’m not sure if she knows exactly what she is doing. She was very thorough in the initial screen and had me do 3×10 toe touches to alleviate my concerns about back extension injury. After I said I felt o.k. and was still at my original pain level of 7/10 she had me shift my hips side-to-side, a little painful. Then, she had me lay prone on a table to extend my elbows and extend my back slowly while keeping my hips and pelvis down. I said the pain level was still 7/10 and she pushed me a bit further. Next, she had me doing prone press ups on a table while she was pushing down on my lower back with a towel. While the prone pushups didn’t give me any acute pain, I couldn’t help but think in my head “I thought extension was not good for me!” 3 hours after the session I feel o.k. where the pin points in my lower back are but I am having some residual pain in both of my buttocks. Is this extension exercise completely terrible or is she doing the right thing by exercising my extensor muscles?

    • Spondy
      4 years ago

      Hi Hanna. I am glad you found the site and I hope it provides you with some help.

      Your therapist is likely taking you through the McKenzie Protocol. It is an assessment / treatment system based on utilizing repeated motions in the direction of movement which reduces your symptoms. There is a reason for each of the movements your therapist took you through, and ultimately what was chosen for your home exercise (whether you were asked to focus on sustained positions or more repeated movements).

      McKenzie Protocol activities should find the positions or activities that resolve peripheralized symptoms (pain in the lateral low back, buttocks, or legs) even if centralized symptoms (pain localized to the spine) worsen. The extension is likely only a problem if it worsens pain in the lateral low back, buttocks, or legs. Extension is not always a bad thing! I’m not McKenzie-trained, so your therapist will be able to tell you a lot more. It’s perfectly normal to have questions and concerns — make sure you are relaying these to your therapist. She should LOVE the fact that you are interested in what she’s doing, not be offended that you are cautious.

      Managing acute symptoms for a spondy is technically no different than any other acute injury of the back in regards to this point — DON’T INCREASE REFERRED / RADIATING PAIN. Stick to that and the McKenzie Protocol can be very successful. When acute pain is resolved, you will still want to identify more global movement dysfunctions in order to have a successful long term outcome. Best of luck and feel free to keep us updated on your progress!

  13. Victoria Witalis
    3 years ago

    Hi, I am a massage therapist over 50yr’s. Just found out I have
    Spondylitis grd 2. I work 6 days a weak! Have lost so motor funx
    In L foot. Have large breast’s DDD, feel this is making sponda
    Flair up after a long day @ work!! Will a breast reduction help back
    Pain? Ty

    • SpondyInfo
      3 years ago

      Thanks for the question! While it’s easy to think breast reduction will immediately reduce strain on your upper back, it may not impact your low back pain. It is best to consult with a physician or rehab professional (or get multiple opinions) because of the multiple issues you mention.

      First, the loss of motor function in your left foot is a BIG DEAL, and figuring out the cause and best solution should be goal number one (if it already isn’t). Second, what is going on with the spondy? Stable or unstable? Degenerative or isthmic? Knowing these answers will help to guide rehab corrections and possible surgical procedures (including whether breast reduction is going to have an impact).

      Please keep in mind that your body has adapted to the way you move — whether that movement is great, so-so, or poor. The health of your soft tissues and bones are related to how you move. And your symptoms may be directly related to how you move. Improving the way your body moves and controls itself (NOT getting stronger, but restoring better quality movement and doing more of it) is the best long-term way to manage symptoms in my experience. You and your surgeon will have to decide if surgery (breast reduction or spine surgery) is appropriate, but you will likely need to evaluate your movement patterns and make the necessary corrections to get the relief you want day in and day out.

  14. Kim
    3 years ago

    Any help would be great. Single mother of 2, age 41. Low back pain for 5 months now. MRI’s, x-rays, chiropractor, PT for 4 months. Spondy grade 1, slight bulged disc. I used to run 20-30 miles a week before all this….
    I’ve lost all flexibility and strength due to pain and no diagnosis for so long. I’m confused as to what stretches and strengthening would be ok for spondy yet also a bulged disk. I just want to get better…the depression, pain, and frustration is very overwhelming. Is it possible to get back to “normal” and how?? It seems like I’ve lost total control over what used to be my body. PT helped but after 4 months I’m still “just functioning”. Do I still need to let myself “heal” before attempting more stretching/strengthening or is time letting it “heal” my enemy? Seems like pain is more tolerable, but still oh so present, but I’ve lost so much muscle, strength, and any flexibility.

    • SpondyInfo
      3 years ago

      Hi Kim. I understand your pain and frustration. Having a spondy and bulging disc with young kids can be a very hard thing to deal with. I wish I could give you a definite answer, but with so many variables (such as type of spondy, past injury history, severity of the disks involved, movement, etc) I cannot accurately provide you with much in the form of exercises or stretches. With a grade one spondy many studies have shown that it IS possible to move and feel better with non-operative measures such as rehab. The key is working on the right things. Did your former rehab professional ever look at your movement as a whole? Did you ever go through any kind of movement screen or assessment? This is the best place to start and will help to begin the process of focusing on your movement affecting your spondy (and back). Without addressing movement you are more or less just addressing the symptoms and as soon as you get back to your daily activities the pain returns. This article will help you better understand this concept – https://spondyinfo.com/how-poor-movement-can-affect-your-spondy-and-how-to-fix-it/
      I also encourage you to search around our blog and learn as much as you can. If you need any further help or have additional questions in regards to various movement screen methods or advice feel free to reply to this comment or shoot us an email at info@spondyinfo.com…..Best of luck!

  15. Kristina S.
    3 years ago

    I am 25 years old and about a year ago I was diagnosed with a grade 3 spondy. I was told I may have had this all of my life and it may never get worse. I had 2 cortisone injections that seemed to help for a little while. I was also told that losing weight and quitting smoking would help. I started on a vigorous exercise routine 6 days a week of zumba, body combat, & body jam and lost 35lbs as well as quit smoking. One year later I was having pain again so made another trip to the doctor, this time my x-rays show my spondy has progressed to grade 5 spondyloptosis! The doctor I saw doesn’t even treat those kind of cases so he has limited experience with it. The problem is that I don’t want to quit exercising! Is it safe to continue doing classes like zumba without the high impact aspects (no jumping)? If not, what kind of exercises are safe? Thanks for your input!

    • SpondyInfo
      3 years ago

      Hi Kristina,

      First of all congrats on your lifestyle change, weight-loss success and continued desire to exercise. That is truly something to be proud of. Secondly, I am sorry to hear about your progressed spondy and associated pain.

      Unfortunately, I really cannot provide you with any kind of information on whether or not these activities are safe for you. Spondy’s are so unique from person to person. There are so many variables that make providing information on topics such as these impossible to do accurately over the internet without knowing how the patient moves, etc.

      One suggestion I have would be to get a second opinion. Perhaps set up an appointment with another doctor near you for another view-point on the situation. The new doctor could view your old x-rays/mri/etc. and give you another professional opinion. Perhaps the your current doctor is missing something or is just not comfortable viewing or helping someone treat this kind of condition.

      I am not saying your current doctor is wrong, but I have never heard of a grade 5 spondyloptosis patient who is able to exercise. Again, I have limited experience with grade 5 spondy’s so I could be wrong. I mainly study, work with and discuss grades 1-2, so it may be possible….but I would recommend getting another opinion just to be sure.

      Next, I would highly suggest learning about your current movement. It is very possible that you have a few movement asymmetries that may be leading to compensations during your exercise. Thus leading to more and more stress on your spondy. I explain this in more detail here: https://spondyinfo.com/how-poor-movement-can-affect-your-spondy-and-how-to-fix-it/

      I have worked with, experienced and conversed with many spondy patients who have seen a great improvement with how they move and feel by addressing their overall movement, but first I would recommend getting a second opinion. If you need any further help do not hesitate getting back to me…..Best of luck moving forward!

    3 years ago

    I have spondylolisthesis in lower back l4 and l5 recently hurting down my legs having diffuctly walking and getting up from sitting position what kind of excursive can i do?

  17. Danielle
    2 years ago

    I just came across your site and felt as tho I found a miracle. I was diagnosed with spondylolthesis grade 1 and pinched nerve which causes horrible pain in my hip and leg about 3 years ago. I carried my twin girls to 38 weeks which is what brought on the pain. I have been through physical therapy twice all sorts of mess and all sorts of injections and am still in pain. Before having my girls I was planning on becoming a personal trainer and was working as a circuit coach and teaching aerobics 4 times a week and exercising everyday. I still exercise every day but not without pain but I had to give up my dreams and my job because I was told not to do any squats no lunges no heavy weight, do not jump, no running etc. swim in a pool is about it. Very depressing!
    I’m wondering where I find someone to perform an assessment on me and help me come up with a exercise plan to strengthen my weaknesses because I can see what you are talking about especially with the overcompensating with certain muscles.
    Thank you

    • SpondyInfo
      2 years ago

      Hi Danielle. Thanks for finding the site and congrats on the girls! This article will help you understand more about movement, compensations and what you can do to find an assessment. https://spondyinfo.com/how-poor-movement-can-affect-your-spondy-and-how-to-fix-it/
      My recommendation to you is to search for an SFMA assessment as this deals more with pain than the FMS. Check out the link above and as always, shoot me any further questions you may have. Best of luck!

  18. Anjali
    2 years ago

    I lifted very heavy weight once 7 months back, post which I had a certain pain deep into the hips. I ignored the pain for 3 months. Slowly, the pain spread to my left leg – which was mild but continuous. Only getting relief in the night when I sleep. Finally, I went to my doctor and he got the x ray done.
    He diagnosed Spondy, with the last disc compressed.
    Post that, I have taken care not to lift weights, and tried to rest as much as possible. Also, kept doing my exercises regularly.
    But the problem is – now the sciatica pain has also started when I am doing the knee hug exercise. And, when I sit on a cushioned chair and hard surfaces- I get a sharp pain and can feel the hardness of my skeleton.
    I doubt I am doing something wrong in the exercise. I was very active and had just finished my half marathon before this whole episode of pain started.
    Can you help me here ?
    Also, I am putting on a lot of weight which is depressing me further – can you suggest some safe exercises?

    • SpondyInfo
      2 years ago

      Hi Anjali,

      Sorry to hear about your accident. It is very hard for me to provide you with an answer that will provide you with instant help mainly due to the fact that I know very little about your body, your movement, your past injury, or your spondy. Remember, there are so many things that make each spondy unique and all of these things play a role when it comes to pain and discomfort. I would suggest two things. First, it is possible that the pain you are experiencing is not from your spondy at all. It may be from something else like your compressed disc that is possibly pinching the nerve. I would schedule another meeting with your doctor to address this issue and to find the culprit of your pain. Otherwise you will just be guessing. Secondly you should have your movement addressed. I explain the importance of movement here:https://spondyinfo.com/how-poor-movement-can-affect-your-spondy-and-how-to-fix-it/

  19. Adam
    1 year ago

    In July 2016, due to my sciatica in left leg, I went to the Orthopedic Dr. and I was diagnosed in MRI to have Grade 1 anterolisthesis in L4-L5, disc dessication and mild disc protrusion in L4-L5 and L5-S1. For the first week, I took the Medrol pack and since then I have been doing physical therapy for last 3 months and doing well with little or no pain. In the mornings, I am a little stiff but nothing compared to my pain in July. I used to be very active doing running, jogging, playing basketball, badminton and weights. The Dr told me that I have to stop all activities and no weights at all. In the long term, he suggested to do surgery. My Physical therapist says that since I am doing fine with exercises, he can continue to challenge me and make my core and back stronger. In fact, he told me that he will make me run in 6 months. Last week, I played a light game of badminton and felt OK. I also do light weights and body weight exercises like squats, push-ups etc.
    My question is should I remain super careful and avoid all weights and playing badminton.

    • SpondyInfo
      1 year ago

      Hi Adam. Great question and please keep in mind that I am not a doctor and I don’t have the information about your current state of movement, your bodies strengths and weaknesses or your detailed injury history to base an answer off of. So I can’t tell you what is safe or not safe for you. This answer would be best for your therapist or another doctor.

      However, I can tell you what I have experienced and what I have seen with others. You can use this information to discuss this question in detail with your therapist to come up with an exact answer for you. I know many doctors are very cautious with this type of injury (Spondy). I was told by several doctors to avoid all weight lifting, sprinting and jumping. I saw several doctors and the confusing thing was, some said it was o.k. to do these things. So who was right? I really think it is a case by case thing that depends more on the patient and their weaknesses. And more importantly if the patient can improve those weaknesses.

      I worked hard on improving my weaknesses and I slowly added in active sports like golf, sprinting and weightlifting. Of course I am very cautious of proper technique as I believe this is key. Without getting stronger I believe my pain would be much, much worse. It sounds like you are doing a great job with your therapist as well. Bring this question up to them, discuss how your body is improving and what you need to do to get back to these activities. If necessary, get another doctors opinion. Some doctors are very pro surgery and others are more conservative with their approach. This leads to very different answers on this topic. Most importantly, listen to your body. Improve your body, and if you chose so, slowly get back into the things you love while keeping a close eye on how you feel. Take a step back during pain and keep making positive improvements. I hope that helps and best of luck!

  20. nihilum
    1 year ago

    I was diagnosed 4 months ago and I am still adapting my training program to the condition. What I know for now FOR MYSELF, regarding standard gym exercises, is: 1. I use a good weight lifting belt esp on standing exercises like squats, bicep curls, etc; 2. I do rowing for the lats, shoulder presses and chest presses with a back/stomach firmly on a bench so that the spine doesn’t have to bear all the weight; 3. I do bicep curls with my back pressed to a wall to avoid the dangerous movement from the waist (and btw this makes the exercise even harder on the biceps); 4. I replaced back squats with sumo kettlebell squats and dumbell lunges – I feel better when the weight is on the sides or below the waist and not on my back; 5. I replaced standard deadlifts with romanian deadlifts and I do them with lighter weight for more reps (10-12); 6.I don’t run, use an elliptical or ride a bike bc is makes the spine “jiggle” and I always have pain afterwards. Instead, for cardio, I do the stationary bike and have no problems with it. 7. For abs, I do planks, reverse situps, leg raises and Janda situps and never standard sit ups or crunces – never liked them,never did a single one in my life and maintained a 6 pack for years. 8. Exercises to avoid for me are the overhead press, the bench press, the back squat and the heavy deadlift. Those always, always give me pain. I was surprised about the bench press but it does give me pain in the lower back, so I just replaced it with incline bench press and problems stopped.
    Hope this helps some desperate spondo-gym rats like me! All is not lost!
    When I got diagnosed doctor scared me and told me to stop weight training so I did. Guess what, I felt MY LOWER BACK GOT MUCH WORSE WITHOUT WORKING OUT. So I started again, and I have my bad and good days but for now I think that you can and SHOULD exercise with a spondo, you just have to adapt your program so that it gives your muscles the stimulus they need without bothering your spine.
    I wish good luck to all!

    • SpondyInfo
      1 year ago

      Thanks for sharing nihilum! I agree with you, everyone should adapt their own exercise program to suit their specific needs. Thanks again for sharing and best of luck!

  21. Margaret Needham
    1 year ago

    Hi there

    I have a grade 1 spondy in L4/L5. I have been told not to do any extensions or arch my back at all. Over time my upper back and shoulders are becoming rounded as I work in an office on a computer.

    My new physiottherapists says I should do back extensions to alleviate the tightness in my upper back as its very tight due to years of immobility. Will this agravate my spondy and cause lower back pain or worse.

    • SpondyInfo
      1 year ago

      Hi Margaret. I reached out to SpondyInfo.com’s Co-Creator Todd Bitzer who is also a board certified physical therapist to get you a helpful answer on this question. Here is his response:

      That’s an excellent question! Keep in mind that your therapists may be seeing something that is needed in your particular situation, so we can’t definitively say “good” or “bad” to their recommendation.

      But here’s my two cents anyway…

      If your spondy is either “idiopathic” or “degenerative”, you likely have excessive forces of extension acting on your low back. Or maybe it’s more appropriate to say that the “dominant” pattern your brain uses to support your core is promoting extension at the low back. (That is basically the primary theory of how an idiopathic spondy develops — just too much repetitive extension stress on that segment of the spine.)

      So most therapists and doctors will tell you to avoid further extension when a spondy is present because the spine is already getting plenty of extension. It’s being “braced” in extension by certain muscles.

      But here’s where I diverge from a lot of the mainstream views…I would disagree with your therapist’s desire to get you more “extension” of the upper back (thoracic spine) to correct your rounded upper back and shoulders.

      Your upper back and shoulders are likely responding to a ribcage that is probably too rigid. The rigid ribcage is tight because of misused muscles…you’re basically working harder than necessary to breathe.

      The rigid ribcage, also called a “flared ribcage”, goes hand-in-hand with a lack of pelvis control. Both the ribcage issue and pelvis issue will “drive” the low back into the “dominant” pattern of extension in the spine that is associated with spondy’s.

      When the ribcage is rigid then the upper back is already in plenty of extension, too. So extension exercises probably won’t give any lasting benefit to tightness in the upper back.

      And not to confuse you, but the upper back “rounding forward” is just a compensation of too much extension in the lower lumbar spine (where your spondy is) and in the middle thoracic spine (because the way in which you breathe has stiffened up the rib cage).

      Changing the way you get air IN and OUT will likely have a much bigger impact on your tight upper back and rounded shoulders (as well as your spondy). There’s A LOT more info I could go into in order to explain this further — hopefully we’ll put up a post explaining a bit more in the near future. In the meantime, I’d suggest asking your therapists what they know of PRI concepts (Postural Restoration Institute), or see if there is a PRI-trained therapist or trainer in your area.

      I hope this helps!