View Full Version : Wanting Tips for Getting in Shape for Surgery

04-16-2010, 04:25 PM
I have 6 months until my surgery and would appreciate tips on how to best get in shape for the surgery. I have always exercised, but would like to know which muscle groups should be emphasized. One of my exercise instructors at the YMCA thought I should really work on back muscles. I read later that that wasn't really important since they will be cut. I am assuming abdomen muscles need to be strong. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I know I should step it up a little when I'm working out and your suggestions will give me more incentive.

04-16-2010, 09:41 PM
Hi Karen,

I just had my surgery a couple of weeks ago and found out that the most important muscle groups to work on prior to surgery, are abdominal muscles, arms, and legs (quadriceps). Abdominal muscles help you to sit up much easier after surgery if you have some strength there, arm muscles are good to help you get up out of a sitting position, and quads as you may have to squat a lot, and also just simple things like getting up out of your seat or up off the toilet, having strong legs or quads helps a lot here. Also I was told to do as much cardio as possible prior to surgery, to help your heart be at it's healthiest as the surgery is so major and can take it's toll on your heart, so cardio is highly recommended also for fitness for after surgery too. Hope this has helped.

04-16-2010, 10:00 PM
Karen - I'm so glad that you asked this question! I am scheduled for surgery in 5 months and wanted to know this too. Thanks, Lynnette, for your input. Now that the weather is nicer, it will be easier to get my walks in! And I guess that I better work on the rest of me too.

04-17-2010, 05:05 AM
Thanks for the pointers, Lynette. I'm off to the Y this a.m. I'm sure you're happy to have the first two weeks behind you. From everything I've read, those are the toughest. How are you doing? I haven't seen any reports from you lately.

04-17-2010, 06:57 AM
Karen - thanks for asking how I'm doing? :) during the daytime I seem to be fine most of the time, I've been walking every day and doing some exercises the re-hab dept. gave me to do. I have terrible pain in my right quad which according to my local doc' is from the pads they had me lie on during the ten hour surgery. I also had welts and bruising across my chest from those pads in that area. The quad however is very painful and possibly there could even be some torn muscle there which my doc' said I hopefully will find relief from in a couple of weeks. Night time is also hard for me, however the doc' said I can take Valium along with my 11pm Oxycontin which helped me get a little more sleep last night :).

I'm taking one day at a time, and looking forward to being pain free one of these days :)

04-17-2010, 09:57 AM
How are your boys handling your recover?

04-17-2010, 12:56 PM
Foofer - My boys - thanks to my mum - are doing great. I am very blessed to have an exceptional mother. She is 77 years old and runs round with them all day every day with the energy of a 55 year old, she amazes me so much. Basically she cooks all our meals for us, gets the kids to school and picks them up at hometime. She goes grocery shopping, takes me to the local doc and picks up prescriptions. The part that I take with the boys is I always sit with them when they're doing homework as that's important to me, and I always read them their bedtime stories at bedtime. I would truly be lost without my mum. My ex husband decided to take his wife off on vacation for a week and a half as soon as I got out of the hospital to L.A., which timing wise was not good, as now my mum has even more pressure on her - however, my mum and I both agree that at least the boys are with me and my mum, and even if they get a little bored this weekend, they are very much loved and well taken care of by us.

Today is one of my toughest days yet - I feel very depressed and very very sore, and guilty for not being able to entertain my boys. My mum has just gone outside to let the boys play outside again for the second time today, and I've had so little energy and so much pain today that I just keep wanting to go to bed. I did however, first thing this morning, go for a walk round the block and do my home exercises that the hospital had given me to do. Since then, it's been a downhill slide, I've just felt like misery, I feel sick and tired of the pain, sick and tired of feeling tired, and feeling impatient to have my life back, and I cry at the drop of a hat. I know that this too shall pass, and thank God most of my days are waaay better than today, I just feel so bad for my mum too as she is doing so much and I don't want this all to wear her out. So far she is looking great and seems to be loving taking care of us - thank God!

Anyway, hopefully next time I write to you all, I'll sound happier!

Has anyone else felt like this on their third week at home from hospital?

04-17-2010, 03:44 PM
I'm sorry to hear you are having such a bad day. Do you have the book, Scoliosis Surgery, the Definitve Patients's Reference by David Wolpert? Dr. Lenke's office recommended it. Chapter 7 discusses that it is normal to become extremely discouraged during the first two weeks or more after surgery. He said that " recovering is not a linear process" & the "up & down swings are normal as your body struggles to heal itself." He also said "one thing may improve while something else gets worse." The author had successful surgery for scoliosis. He also said that "most patients universally agree that the first three weeks after surgery are hell." Remember, you will have more and more better days ahead. I read a post that Laura (RadioGirl) has had several issues after her surgery, too. I'm not looking forward to the recovery period, but reading the book (I hope) has prepared me to not expect it to be easy. One of Dr. Lenke's patients wrote, "Scoliosis surgery is not for sissies."
I hope you are both feeling better soon.

04-18-2010, 09:40 AM
Karen -
Good of you to bring up David Wolpert's book...I remembered reading that part before my surgery and then didn't give it much more thought when I was going through that depressed phase.

It's important to remember that the recovery phase is a series of plateaus - Try making a list of the things you are able to do by yourself or the things that bring you pleasure. I made an extra effort to focus on those things and that helped a bit. It was very strange though when that feeling of depression would just hit out of the blue and I felt like I was being such a baby about things. We like to be totally independent, don't we?

I just read back my journal during that 2-3 week post surgery phase and I was definitely feeling 'blue' as I referred to it there. And later after my 2nd surgery I went through another phase for a few weeks - I didn't cry but in my journal I now use the word 'depressed.' But it was sort of weird in that it would hit hard at random times - I'll bet if I had looked at my med chart I would be able to see a correlation between what I was taking and when and how it affected my mood.

Homework with your boys sounds like a good time, and bedtime stories too. Kids are so adaptable - they'll be fine. Is there a way they can help to fix you little treats from the kitchen? Like a smoothie or mini yogurt parfaits?

It really does get better!

04-18-2010, 01:03 PM
I plan to keep a journal, too. I actually started one just writing down what I've done in the way of exercising each day. I have a supportive husband, however, I think it's going to be hard on him trying to do all of my household duties, too, besides putting up with me if I'm in a down mood. I really hope I can have a positive attitutude, but seriously doubt that I can pull it off daily. I also think about our lack of a social life during the recovery. I guess just thinking that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel will help. I looked at your x-rays and they look great. I'm looking forward to the day I have a straight back, too!

04-18-2010, 02:27 PM
Dear Lynnette,
I always felt a little guilty too because when I had my surgery we had to travel to St. Louis and be aware from our 14-year-old son and our Max (German Shepherd) and cat, Trouble. I missed them all terribly the entire time. And, although we had my mom and my motherinlaw, both wondreful people, taking care of them all at our house, I just wanted it to be my husband and I instead. But, I knew that just was not possible. you have to remember children, whatever age they are, adjust way better than we think they do. And, they will just enjoy having you there with them - ours did for sure! The night he told me he was glad I was home - I nearly cried!! Our son and I are very close!!! People have to remember that they surgery does not only weigh in on us, but it also weighs in on a family - but, if you have a family as wonderful as you and I, it sounds, we can make it. Some days are worse than others, of course. I still have very painful days - i get tired of the pain. I get tired of not being able to do the things I want to do yet. But, my wonderful hubby keeps telling me "all in due time". This surgery has given us a whole new outlook on life - we would not have made it without it. So, we'll make it - we just have to be patient.
So, Lynnette - I understand what you are feeling completely. And, this forum helps too. You are not alone.
Bless you sweetheart!!!

04-18-2010, 05:42 PM
Hey Lynette! I'm glad your doing so well in general but please don't let the bad days get you down. If you recall I'm just a couple weeks ahead of you and have had my share of bad days that have got me a bit depressed at times. Just keep in mind its all part of the process...I keep reminding myself of that and manage to make it through the tough days!


04-18-2010, 09:42 PM
Bless all of your hearts - you always all manage to put a smile on my face and make me feel so loved on here. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for that - it MEANS SO MUCH!!! It's great to hear also that you guys understand and have been there too. Yesterday was such a bad bad day, I felt lousy all day, today was slightly better but still a lot of pain. I suddenly get so emotional and start to tear up - then the next moment I feel great. But like you said Rita - having a very loving family really and truly helps us to get through this, each time I feel low, both my mum and my brother always say, remember - each day is getting better, and before you know it you'll be able to do most of the things you did before.

Sometimes it feels like being re-born - learning how to take my clothes off and on, at a very slow pace with the tools that I have. Bending is impossible so the tools that I have are wonderful, the picker upper thing not only picks up stuff I drop on the floor, but helps me get my undies on and long pants on. Then I got this sock gadget which makes putting socks on so much easier. But generally, just using the bathroom, showering, walking, moving from side to side in bed, getting up out of a chair or out of bed, it's like a whole new learning process, how to move with the least pain, how to do things totally differently and then adapting to that. I'm very pleased that I can actually do a lot of these things, because before surgery I kept thinking I'd be way more limited, but somehow, I manage to do quite a bit thank goodness, but again, if it wasn't for my mum, I'd be totally and utterly lost. I could never have taken care of my boys without my mum, especially the amount of sleep that I've needed recently. I get so fatigued. I always make sure that I walk every day, how much walking I don't know, but I always walk whether it's round the block in my neighborhood, or up and down the street outside while the boys play outside, or just walking circles inside my house, and then fatigue hits me. Sometimes when I can't get comfortable, either sitting, walking, or standing, then laying in bed in the only option for me. Anyway, I know that right now I'm way better than when I first came home from hospital, so I'm trying to be patient and reminding myself that it can only get better, and eventually I'll have my life back :)

Thanks again everyone, for all your wonderful support, kind words, encouragement, and love. You are a wonderful friends to me, and my scoli family :)

Love Lynette.


04-19-2010, 12:25 AM
Lynette, After reading your last post, I had to scroll down and remind myself when you had your surgery. It was not even three weeks ago! I think that you're walking every day is wonderful. It still seems so recently that you had surgery that I think you are being too hard on yourself. I'm sure in another three weeks you'll be in a much better place! All the best, Joy

04-19-2010, 03:11 AM
Thanks Joy, I'm my own worst enemy sometimes - I lack patience however I'm trying to learn patience :)

Hope all is well with you.

Love from Lynettie.

04-19-2010, 12:02 PM
pilates is great! before and after surgery...

04-20-2010, 05:20 PM
Thanks for the tip. I bought the book, Pilates for Fragile Backs, that I will use after my surgery. Right now, I can do most stomach exercises, but figure crunches and other exercises won't work with two long rods down my back.

04-21-2010, 09:42 AM
crunches are difficult post-surgery, esp. if you're fused relatively high or low, but there are mannnyyy great stomach exercises you can do alternatively. i like toe taps, rocking on the sacrum and doing oblique reaches with weights, the pilates "hundred", planks...

04-21-2010, 10:08 AM
Good idea with planks-hey, no bending with a plank, so it shouldn't be a problem. I just don't want to lose the abdomen muscles I have now after surgery. I'm glad I will not have an excuse.

04-22-2010, 06:43 AM
"rocking on the sacrum"!!?? i am supposed to have surgery T11 the sacrum...i doubt i'd be doing any rocking on it!! :eek:

i have never done pilates cause my trainer said he thought it would be too hard and too much stretching on my spine! i exercised religiously until 3 years ago, when the pain got sooooo bad that i can barely do any exercise movements now!

the only "getting fit" my surgeon wants now is he wants blood work to see if i am "malnourished" as i am down to 95 pounds from lack of appetite from pain meds! he wants me to "get fit" nourishment wise and to gain some weight to allow for inevitable weight loss after surgery


04-22-2010, 07:33 AM
Walk, walk, walk.

My dd is not very athletic, so we bought a treadmill about 7 months prior to surgery. She walked every day.

It helped improve her lung function immensely!

Also, walking was about the only exercise which was recommended after surgery--getting back into it gradually--to improve circulation and avoid blood clots and such.

Good luck on your surgery!

04-22-2010, 09:23 AM
Eat well. Dont eat any junk, stay out of the center of the supermarket.

This is so important...

04-22-2010, 10:06 AM
Thanks for the pointers, everyone. You are all so helpful with our questions!

04-22-2010, 10:40 AM
there are COUNTLESS pilates exercises you can do without any articulation of the spine. it's just about finding the right instructor who has a great understanding of anatomy and biomechanics. i can't even tell you how strong pilates has made me since my surgery, hence why i'm such an advocate. :)

04-22-2010, 10:48 AM
It's sure encourgaing to know that eventually after the surgery I will be able to do something in addition to walking. We have a Pilates instructor at our Y that I will talk to. Thanks so much.

04-22-2010, 02:03 PM
whoops...that was not T0 .....i edited it...:rolleyes:
it was T11-sacrum...actually, L4-S1 and T11-sacrum with pelvic fixation...

anyway, i go by what my trainer told me about staying away from pilates cause it would stretch and hurt my back....

i dont figure on much of any stretching or anything once i have rods in my lower spine...mind you, i am one who will need rods to start where many thoracic folk's rods end!!

it was upsetting yesterday to see my new G.P. and find out that her partner was disabled by fusion surgery...a fully working physician who is now on disability! (probably private disability, but still!) i didnt get specific as to whether he had Harrington rods, but she did say he had the open cutting ("filet of fish") surgery....
i saw her to get moving on what my surgeon wants me to take care of to get ready for surgery....alot to do...including gaining weight!