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Sports & activities after ACDF surgery???



  • cocodrillo: i understand where you are coming from - and i def agree with the glass half full scenario. sorry to hear about your hip - do you think it is related to your back/spine? my current worst pain is actually from the middle of my back - the physio thinks the weakness associated with my neck injury has really aggravated a pre-existing issue. i think the core exercises are starting to help though. --my fascination with bodies comes from how inter-related things are. especially with spines. let us know how you get on!

    nkdbear1 and ranger: i totally agree with the not pushing too far (being reckless). especially with fusion. i wasnt cleared for physio until 4 months post-op - as my surgeon wanted to see fusion on xrays first. its hard, because in a lot of ways you feel ok, so its about doing what you should. also, i tend to almost always feel ok doing things, its the next day i feel it in my muscles. plus im very aware that i dont want to damage the discs above/below my fusion. im 37 - so this has to last me a long time (well hopefully!).

    nkdbear1: i hope you got all your questions answered at the consult. after surgery i used to try and go on 3 walks of differing lengths every day - i did this for months. i listened to audiobooks. it was quite nice to get up and move about.

    good luck everyone!

  • Hi cocodrillo -

    I'm just looking around here for the first time and wanted to reply to your post, since I also crave camaraderie on the still-an-athlete-post-surgery front. And I also find it's helpful to surround myself with people who are doing what they can do, whatever that is, with joy and drive and commitment. We all have our coping mechnisms, and one of mine is that I have to avoid people who tell me I am doomed to a lifetime of failed surgeries: if I believed that and located my life in that terrible fear, I would not make it through the pain and extreme difficulty of this recovery.

    I'm 45 years old, just about 10 months out from lumbar rebuild (discectomies, laminectomies, bone revisions, L5 fusion), and very active again already, within limits. Luckily, my great passion/sport is swimming, so the low/no-gravity and almost zero impact nature of the sport has meant that I could make it the center of my rehab once cleared to start PT.

    It also helped that I was swimming at Master's level until my real spinal crash about 5 months before the surgery (I had limitations and partial disabilities for 10+ years, but with physio help could train with neoprene jammers for back support - and while I would sometimes lose my legs entirely, I'd just keep swimming until they came back, ha, and I was able to compete sometimes). Some of that deep muscle strength held even through months of inability to walk, and this helped me recover, I am sure. Or at least helped the muscle to come back more quickly after the brace came off two months post-surgery.

    I started with water walking and dry land rehab, then began swimming again, then upped my distances, then got a private coach, then swam Boston Sharkfest - VERY CAREFULLY! ha! but with total delight - a mile open water race across Boston harbor on the six month surgiversary. I am now training to swim across the straight of Gibraltar (2019 or 2020 depending on the Channel Swimming Association permits). Before that, this coming summer, I will swim Skaha, the longest open water lake swim in Canada (about 12k).

    I wanted to train for for triathlon. What has become clear to me as I recover is that the water loves me, and takes really good care of my back. Impact and gravity? Not so much. :( I can walk, even really long and hilly walks, with no penalty as long as I "walk soft," but did one 5 hour steeper mountain climb with some bouldering and lost a full month to really damaged mobility and very bad pain.

    And I want no-more-surgeries and the ability to do ultra-distance marathon swimming more than I want triathlon, and I want to be swimming a mile at a time when I'm 80 as many of my role models do, so the (totally personal/individual of course) decision I have come to is to stick with the low/no impact stuff and avoid the banging that may shorten the life of my hardware, or compromise the bones and vertebrae around it.

    For me, the rehab has been so excruciating, and the whole context so exhausting and often terrifying, that I have to have joy and accomplishment at
    the center of my focus or it's just too hard.

    So I go all-in to the swimming, since that doesn't compromise my rebuild - and going all-in is pretty essential to my nature, as it sounds like it is to yours. :)

    We are all so unique in how we cope and in how we heal. Who knows what you will be able to do, and only you can decide what risks are worth it for you. But I'm cheering you on for whatever sustainable joys you build.

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