Yoga for Spinal Fusion

I have stumbled across a phenomenal website for people like me, and I am so excited to share it with all of you pre and post-op's who read my blog!

As I am now well over 3 and a half years post-op, I have gotten pretty lazy about keeping up with my core body exercises. I do swim quite a bit, but have gotten very bad about walking, using my elliptical or doing the simple weights and core strengthening exercises. Part of it is that I have a wild 2 year old who wears me out to no end, and part of it is that I was just sick of doing the same few exercise routines over and over.

Before I started having lots of pain, I was an active surfer and yoga enthusiast. But as my sciatic pain became more and more intense, and I had my first surgery, those activities fell by the wayside. 4 surgeries later, there wasn't a whole lot of information given to me about what exactly was safe for someone with a spinal fusion reaching from T4 to L4 to do. So I stuck with the basic core exercises they give you in rehab, and did walking and the elliptical, and finally swimming. Those are great, and did a lot to get me back into good shape following my last surgery.

But 3 years of the exact same exercise is BOOOOORING. Especially for someone like me who doesn't exactly love to work out. I loved yoga and surfing because they didn't feel like working out. They were FUN, and they were good for me. So, like I said, I've gotten very very very lazy lately, to the point where I had started to feel a bit wobbly in my lower back, with a lot more aching than I had had in the past.

I realized I had lost of most of the core strength I had built back up, and needed to take better care of my spine, especially if I was going to keep up with my little super man. So I started searching around YouTube for exercises that are safe for post-ops like myself. Surprisingly I found this amazing video, right off the bat!
I was SO excited! Here was someone with a very similar level of fusion doing things I didn't think I could ever do again safely! See, I know that we CAN do a lot moves even with a long fusion. I just didn't think that I could do them without hurting myself in the long-term. But after going to her website and reading her full story, I realized that she had set out to provide a way to help us build up our core strength to help us long term, without hurting ourselves.

Since I loved yoga so much before surgery, this was a great source of encouragement. I was blown away watching this video of her:

Obviously, I'm a long way from being able to do a lot of the moves she does, as she had her surgery a lot longer ago than I did, but I am already able to do quite a few of them after a few weeks.

There are several short videos on YouTube you can try to see if it would be something you'd like to pursue, and if you enjoy it, for $100 she has online videos specifically designed for us post-op scoliosis patients:
"By request I have filmed and recorded 10 multi level creative and information filled yoga classes specifically for yoga after spine fusion surgery or general back care. Each class is taught and demonstrated by myself so you can see how someone with a T3-L3 spine fusion practices yoga. With these videos you will receive detailed instruction for safety, alignment, and correct form in your yoga postures. The classes are progressive in nature to gradually build strength, flexibility, and endurance which is why I decided to not just record one yoga class. I had too much information to share to put in only one video!"You can find the information for them by clicking here: Julie Wilkins Services

I payed for the online classes and am very happy I did. After just two weeks, the aching in my low back has gone away, and I already feel stronger in my core than I have in months. I'm also excited because she provides a video that teaches you how to modify moves that you would do in a public class situation, which I would love do eventually. My goal is that after I get back into a strong, healthy state, I can find a local studio armed with modified moves, and be able to practice yoga again safely!

This is a perfect example of how we can do a lot of things even with a large fusion. We just have to find new and better ways to do them.