Spondylolysis Exercises To Stablize Your Lower Back
Spondylolysis is a fracture of the lower back. Yet it doesn’t have to hurt. The key is doing the right spondylolysis exercises so you can get better.
My experience has been that you can turn a spondylolysis that has progressed to a grade III spondylolisthesis and relieve a person’s pain with the right combination of treatments, exercises and attention to posture.
So What is spondylolysis?
Spondylolysis is a break or fracture of part of your vertebrae. This thin and weaker area of the spine is called the pars area of your vertebrae. Female gymnasts, cricket bowlers and young male American football players seem to be especially prone to spondylolysis. Others have falls or car accidents.
The freaky thing is you can have a fracture of your spine or spondylolysis and not even know it as it doesn’t cause pain like many things in the spine.
You can clearly see blue and red outlines in the above X-ray that look like “Scotty Dogs”. These two outlines are part of the vertebrae when an X-ray is taken from a 45-degree angle. The blue Scotty Dog, unfortunately, has a broken neck. There is a dark line in the area of the neck which is the fracture of the pars. The pars area of the vertebra is thinner and weaker. Luckily the red little Scotty dog’s neck is fully intact.
The pars area being weaker and narrow is more prone to fracture than other parts of your vertebra.
How can Chiropractic help with Spondylolysis?
Chiropractors are experts at treating the spine, joints and muscles and nerves. They are most well known for giving manual treatments to the spine.
Spondylolysis can be treated by your chiropractor who will guide you through the right exercises that will stabilize your spine so that it doesn’t turn into spondylolisthesis. Spondylolisthesis is a progression of spondylosis with a separation creating a gap between the two broken pieces of bone.
Spondylolisthesis is graded from Grade 1 to Grade 4. Grade 1 involves a small gap that separates the two pieces of bone about a 1/4 length of the vertebra below. The vertebra is slipping forward compared to the one below. Grade 2 spondylolisthesis includes a larger gap about 1/2 the length of the vertebra below. Grade 3 spondylolisthesis includes an even larger gap about 3/4 the length of the vertebra below. I think you’ve figured out that Grade 4 spondylolisthesis involves the vertebra falling off the vertebra below.
Grade 4 spondylolisthesis is not a good situation. The good news is I have been able to get rid of pain and stabilize even a Grade 3 spondylolisthesis. This doesn’t mean it’s possible with everyone but it means I have the experience as every case is different.
What should be avoided with spondylolysis?
When you have spondylolisthesis you should always avoid bending backwards. Unfortunately, standing and walking involves a little bit of extension or backwards bending of the spine. That’s why for those that have pain with spondylolysis they get the pain with extended periods of standing or walking which is relieved by sitting or bending forwards.
How long does it take to recover from spondylolysis?
You have to remember that this a fracture of the spine. A simple leg fracture can take 6 weeks to heal with a proper cast on. Trouble is you can’t cast or brace your spine. They did in the past but it didn’t work. So they don’t try to do that any more.
Spondylolysis exercises that stabilize the spine are one of the most effective ways to help. By stabilizing the spine the muscles hold the spine instead of the bone that is broken. The right exercises shown below often gets rid of spondylolysis pain.
With a gap between the two pieces of your vertebra, in spondylolisthesis, the bones will not fuse most of the time, since the gap prevents the healing. The good news is spondylolysis has a possibility to fuse with the right stabilization exercises shown below.
When the spine gets deconditioned and the spine becomes unstable and weak many of these people start to feel the pain again.
What spondylolysis exercises are effective?
Strengthening and Stability: Spondylolysis exercises makes the muscle of the spine stronger taking the pressure off the joints and the disc.
Spondylolysis Exercise #1 Bird Dog
- Start on all fours with your back and abs braced.
- Raise your opposite arm and leg till they reach a horizontal position.
- Do 3 sets 10. Remember that you have to do both sides to count as “1”.
Spondylolysis Exercise #2 Squats
- Bend your knees and stick your butt out so that you form a curve in your lower back.
- Stick your buttock out so that you have a curve in your lower back.
- Keep going until your knees are 90 degrees or you touch your buttock to the chair.
- Do 3 sets of 10
Spondylolysis Exercise #3 Side Plank
- Get on your side with both feet together.
- Use your elbow as a base to stabilize yourself.
- Put the opposite hand on your waist
- Advanced: If you find this easy raise up your arms.
- Beginner: Bend your knees and touch the floor from your knee down to your feet then raise your hip and torso.
- Hold for 30 seconds. Do 3 sets.
Spondylolysis Exercise #4 Front Plank
- Elbow underneath your shoulder and your feet together.
- Raise up your legs and torso like the picture above.
- Advanced: Bring your elbow forward 4-5 cm / 2 inches.
- Beginner: Touch your knees to the floor holding up your hips and torso.
- Hold for 30 secs for 3 reps.
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- Feature Picture: Photo by Jacob Postuma on Unsplash
- Picture of Scotty Dog: https://www.spinemd.com/symptoms-conditions/spondylolysis
- X-ray of Scotty Dog: https://www.spinemd.com/symptoms-conditions/spondylolysis
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