View Full Version : "Walk don't run" . How much, when and why?

05-26-2010, 09:18 PM
I'm asking here to put the comments from miscellaneous threads, in one place.

It's very interesting to read about pre-op exercise (other thread), though it seems kind of sad to work at painstakingly building up toned muscle mass which will be lost soon after in the inactive months after surgery. :( Leansleft already asked about this too, from a different angle (so to speak?;))

Meanwhile, "everyone says" walking is THE P.T. recommended after surgery - "walking, walking, lots of walking", to quote one surgeon's office. And besides using reachers, ideally, one squats (or bends from the waist), to retrieve dropped objects. (I hope quad strengthening will be allowed FAIRLY soon, too, since it would stabilize those hard-working knees). "Happydeana" says hers are giving her trouble now, almost a year out from surgery.

Only walking seems to be officially sanctioned in the post op period and I'm not sure WHEN even this is permitted. Different answers seem to be forthcoming (according to -- ? )

I'm hoping for more clarity - here, it's not a safety issue, but just steeling myself to know what's ahead. What walking were you told to do - when, where and how much? Also what you've heard others recommended to do, if different OR the same! I assume treadmills or indoor tracks are OK, since (except for Florida or So CAL) the outdoors is only reliable in the summer. Not much is more dangerous than wet leaves and snow/ice! :eek:

And what's the purpose of the walking "they"'re pushing for? Is it to keep us from becoming debilitated, does it somehow aid fusion (or what)?

I know running or jogging is out at first - maybe indefinitely. It's jarring when we land. This means if we want any significant calorie burn , we need to do more quantitatively. But I guess if we can't do anything quickly, there's no way to have a cardio work-out. (Therefore, our CV strength must take a hit after surgery too - if we've built it up in advance).

Maybe speed-walkers could work up a sweat. (Some used to pass me on the track). But I couldn't manage that on a treadmill, even if my legs weren't so short! :p

My treadmill DOES have an incline setting. If I could use that, even walking, I'd have a workout. I hope it's allowed, but I'll bet it's not. A slope must put our spines under a different kind of stress. I do dread the thought of hours of mindless treadmill walking, tho'. (Images of hamsters on a wheel come to mind :( ) OTOH maybe I could read at the same time! :o

It sounds as if real fitness - both cardio and toning - will be indefinitely stalemated by this huge operation, which will also leave us with limited options to regain it. :( Life is all a matter of trade-offs, but it's important to know what they are in advance. I remember one poster commenting if he'd known what he does now (about these limits), he's not sure he would have had surgery. He was into fitness, like me.

I still don't know what I'm going to decide, but I DO want to go into with eyes wide open. If you could add your fusion length and the age you're referencing, it would be much appreciated! :) Many thanks!

05-26-2010, 09:19 PM
PS Apart from safety precautions, were any of you given medical dos/ don'ts about using stairs (or...stairsteppers, ellipticals)?

EDIT this seems so trivial compared to infuriating cases of malpractice (my term) in the revisions sub-forum, I almost hope no one bothers to reply...:o Sorry.

05-27-2010, 06:16 AM
Walking is so good for many things...exercise, helping with constipation, keeps you from getting stiff from sitting/laying so much, hopefully helps with your appetite, keeps you from getting bored, it gets you out of the house, less worry of blood clots, etc.

My daughter was walking the hallways within two days after surgery. This is different for each person, but most doctors want you up and moving as quickly as possible.

I wouldn't rush trying to use the threadmill or any other exercise machine in the beginning. At first, simply walking around the inside of your house is a good start until you rebuild your strength and endurance level. Once you've done that, walk outside, preferably on a flat surface --sidewalk or track-- or you can walk at a mall or local shopping center. Shoot, you could even walk around the grocery store if there isn't a mall close by.

Hope this helps.

Mary Lou

05-30-2010, 11:30 AM
My surgeon told me just to walk on flat surfaces -no machines - until I see him on June 9. I had my surgery on May 4. I am fused from T2 - sacrum. I am in a brace .


loves to skate
05-30-2010, 12:20 PM
Marylou's advice is right on the money. I did use a treadmill with a safety tether that stops the treadmill in case you fall :eek: in the beginning since it was way too icy here after my surgery. I was only walking at a speed of 1 mile per hour in the beginning which now seems slower than crawling.:) I probably only walked less than half a mile a day in the beginning and slowly built up speed and distance to 2 then 3 miles per hour and 1 - 2 miles per day. Walking also helps to build up your abdominal and back muscles. If you put your hands on your abdomen and your back while walking, you can feel those muscles working. We went to a mall a couple of times, but it was icy getting in and out of our house almost until March.

At 6 months post-op, I went for physical therapy to strengthen core muscles, to stretch hamstrings and to generally build back up. Exercise bikes, the recumbent kind, and elliptical and stair stepper equipment will give you plenty of cardio. BTW, quads can be built up just by sitting in a chair and raising your legs and you can slowly add weights.

Prior to surgery you should build up your core muscles, (water therapy works well if you can't do anything else) your quads and your arm muscles. Squatting is really not good for your knees. You should learn to go down on one knee as it doesn't stress the knees and is easier to get back up. You will need strong arms to help you log roll and push yourself up to a sitting position.

My fusion is L2 - S1 and is considered a long fusion because it took 12 hours and is considered to be a very difficult and dangerous surgery due to stenosis in 4 places, spondilythesis, DDD, etc.

Don't worry, you will get your endurance and muscles back over time as your body dictates. Yes, there are limits, but I was practically wheelchair bound and now I can do almost anything most 70 year old women cannot do. Determination is key and following your Dr.'s recommendations.

Hope this helps. Sally

05-31-2010, 11:51 PM
Wow! I thought this thread had died with Mary Lou's great reply some days back.


God bless you! Between the two of you I can't imagine anything else I need (except that "safety belt"). You even answered questions I didn't ask about getting in shape! (I do push-ups all - well, MOST days) ,

That is a simply fabulously detailed answer to all my concerns. I'm so glad you related to my concerns about season. I just don't have any flat areas outside here, much less ones guaranteed to be free of sources of slipping - be they wet leaves, pebbles, or Winter dangers.

And it doesn't sound like I'm going to be able to get into proper clothes to face the neighbors. Seriously worried about how I'm going to put on my running socks and shoes, in fact. Treadmills aren't for slippers.

Really, what do people do? (Does everyone but me have live-in shoe-putters-on?)

Of course, once I get into a car, I could drive to the Mall (hoping not to be run over by fast Mall walkers) or supermarkets - but how many groceries can I get? (Answer - too many!). I'm definitely afraid of the Uni indoor tracks which are over-run with careless runners and race walkers. Kids! :p

Melissa: many thanks. I'm sorry to hear your surgeon's advice, but welcome your answering my musings about using the incline setting on my treadmill. (No, *sigh*) . There goes what's left of my figure.

Thanks all!!!!

06-01-2010, 05:52 AM
I was told to walk at least 30 minutes EVERY DAY starting from the day I got home from the hospital on day 6. For this 6 weeks, I had a 'no treadmill' restriction, so if the weather was bad, my mom and I would walk at the mall. :) After 6 weeks, I was permitted to go on the treadmill, but I found that if I put it on incline, I would get muscle spasms. I can definitely get a good workout walking quickly on the treadmill, although, now I prefer my zumba class 4x a week.

loves to skate
06-01-2010, 05:13 PM
Back-out, They didn't want me walking on a treadmill in the beginning either, but with the ice here, I had no other options. If you walk a mall or the supermarket, take your cane with you as protection. People tend to give you more room if you use a cane. You can get elastic shoelaces either supplied in the hospital when and if you have surgery or you can buy them at a medical supply company and they also have sock assists. There is usually a solution for everything.
Take care, Sally

06-01-2010, 08:07 PM

So inspired that you do zumba 4X per week! I was afraid fusion would make people too inflexible for zumba. Congrats!


06-01-2010, 08:23 PM

So inspired that you do zumba 4X per week! I was afraid fusion would make people too inflexible for zumba. Congrats!



well I certainly am not flexible with a 13 level fusion. I can't do all the 'wiggling' that others do. But people in my class tell me that I don't 'look' stiff. I think I'm just self concious about it. I also think that I compensate for the inflexible spine by moving in other ways. Hey--as long as I get my heartrate up and have a good time, right?

06-01-2010, 10:05 PM
In the beginning, I walked, more like scruffed along, in my pj bottoms and t-shirt down the street to the stop sign everyday, then twice a day. The Percocet left me no pride! But you will find that walking actually feels good...it's much better than standing and sitting.

06-01-2010, 10:23 PM
In the beginning, I walked, more like scruffed along, in my pj bottoms and t-shirt down the street to the stop sign
Go on! Really? You must have really nice PJ bottoms! Also warm ones. (Must see where you live) . I'd love to do this, but - it's cold and wet here. Also an elementary school at the corner (picturing getting a VERY strange - stranger - reputation, avoided even at Halloween...!)

The Percocet left me no pride!
Percocet's great all right! TOO great...

But you will find that walking actually feels good...it's much better than standing and sitting.
Or lying down! My speciality right now. Had a long talk with my brother on his birthday yesterday, started on Skype, but after an hour (I said it was long!) I had to pull the headset down to a beanbag and lie on the floor,. Couldn't even sit in the desk chair at the PC any more. :(

And I'm PRE SURGERY! :rolleyes:

06-01-2010, 10:32 PM
Thank you all some more. WHAT a treasure trove. But - I do worry about the supermarket. Going food shopping has already turned into a bad habit. The shopping carts are so handy. Spent an hour there again today. (HOW will I crack those two cooked lobsters I got for only $11.98 much less all the other food I got?)

Of course, the Mall may be less fattening, but MUCH more expensive. Hey! I'm desperately trying to rid my house of accumulation. All on sale, but...

There MUST be some other way. My house isn't THAT big, especially what's left of the floor space. :p

What a Zumba? Hope it's nothing to with a floor vac. My best friend who hasn't seen my house or me for quite a while (since she moved to LA) sent me one, bless her. But where would it go, poor little thing?

And how to get out of my drive in the Winter? If I can go downstairs through the garage, I can use a stairstepper, I'd think. (Like I have a place to put one!) I DO wonder about the stairs...Once they're clear, that is (haven't been able to "get around" for a good while...)

Getting nervouser and nervouser. Walking! No treadmill? They must think we all have houses like theirs.

Thank you all again!!!:)

06-02-2010, 06:31 AM

You have a general idea of where I live, so you know what the weather is like in my area in December, right? Well, my daughter's surgery was done in December and I didn't take her outside walking very much because of the concern of the ice, snow, etc. Jamie did most of her walking inside--she simply walked a circle. At first it was just around the living room once and we did that several times a day. Then she moved to walking to the kitchen and back. Eventually she was walking around the entire first floor several times a day and she did fine.

You don't have to walk outside, at the mall or the grocery store. For adults, the recovery is so much longer, that I think people tend to get bored with just walking inside their house so they go outside, to the mall or the grocery store. Whatever you decide, to do, remember to be safe. Don't go to the grocery store at 5:00 p.m. on a Friday when it is most likely to be busiest. Make sure wherever you are walking is clear of obstacles.

Mary Lou

06-02-2010, 01:08 PM
Your question gave me lots to read about. The girls had PT in the hsopital but there never was any push for PT from them or the doc. The 30 minutes was a good time frame. We did sign up for a swimming club that catered to PT and OT patients. That made the girls feel less conspicoius with their scars.
Walking one of the dogs was a good thing - thoe other chases cars and would have been dangerous!

The girls did play JV soccer bascially walking right onto the field for the season. They did this a month earlier than usual. It worked well except for my one daughter getting hit more than she ever did before on JV. Totally unexpectedl. She spained her ankle as well. So in the end it was a bad season. But not because of her back. It held up well. Good luck with everything! Mary

06-03-2010, 10:41 PM
I was told to walk as soon as I got home from the hospitals, for 10 minutes at a time, three times a day. At first, since it was Minnesota in the winter, I walked in circles inside my house, around and around the first floor. But after about a week at home, I walked outside - often 20-30 minutes at a stretch or longer (usually with friends, in case I fell). I was cleared to go to the gym at about 6 weeks to walk on the treadmill, and was able to use the elliptical machine as well (no arms).

That's about it - walk as much as I wanted, other light exercise, no twisting, no lifting more than 5 pounds for a few months. I was told that walking helped the fusion, though nobody ever explained exactly how.

06-03-2010, 11:14 PM
More gratitude!!

If possible, put your age and fusions if it's not in sig. Helps me put recommendations in context.

All continues to be amazingly helpful. Such variety! Wondering too about what season some of these fusions were done in.

Can't believe anyone sane early post-fusion, would go outside where I live in Fall or Winter. Have a great big deck at least, but slippery wood is no better. Maybe I can put handrails all along my chain link fenced in backyard! :)
Undoubtedly, wearing a brace would help people to see me as a road hazard on the indoor tracks when others are racing around the corners.

(But what a comedown from the days when I did ten - twenty miles at a shot! :()
Oh, well... at least, it will be great to walk without support! It's been a while. So hard to imagine. "Change is inevitable, growth is optional" and all that...

Thanks for well wishes, Mary! (How's it going???)