What is spondylolisthesis and what should your goal for exercise be?

Oct 03, 2019

What is spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis is a condition of the spine. It occurs when one of the vertebrae
slips out of alignment and rests on the bone, or disc, below it. It usually impacts the
base of the spine, but the issue can occur further up. The condition may be caused
by damage through trauma or fracture, or simply by genetics.

Spondylolisthesis can cause moderate to severe pain and may affect movement or
quality of life. The good news is that the condition is often treatable, and exercise
can help.

Should you exercise with spondylolisthesis?

Suffering with spondylolisthesis shouldn’t have to stop you doing anything you
want to do, as long as you’re taking care. It is not just about the types of exercises
you should or shouldn’t do, it’s about how you go about those exercises and being
mindful of what you’re trying to get out of them.

What should your goal for exercise be?

Before you rush off to do the high intensity workout, it’s important you undertake
some rehabilitation or therapeutic exercises. These will help to support your spine
as well as improve the fitness of your back to reduce everyday pain.
This isn’t to say you won’t ever be able to get back to the types of exercise you’ve
done previously. But by taking time to do it the right way you will improve your
outlook and make sure you keep heading in the right direction to realise your
fitness goals.

The importance of spine stability

Exercises like sit ups, crunches and twists, can put incredible amounts of stress on
the spine and worsen symptoms of conditions such as spondylolisthesis. That’s why
it’s vital to reduce or even eliminate the use of these in your fitness programme.
You should concentrate instead on getting your spine into a neutral position and
stiffening the muscles around it so they offer optimal support. This tutorial doesn’t
go into the specific actions or exercises you should be doing, but focuses instead on
what you’re trying to achieve, namely strengthening your muscles so you can
maintain posture throughout your spine and protect it from further damage.
So while you want a degree of flexibility in your muscles so that they can pre-brace
or pre-stiffen your torso in response to movements that might otherwise create
risk, what you don’t want is lots of movement in the muscles around your spine
that might allow the vertebrae to slip forwards.

I explain this in more detail in the video tutorial above.

So what exercises should you be doing?

While I mentioned a few exercises in the video, the important thing is to know how
to perform them correctly. If you’re interested in learning more about this why not
sign up for my free spine health webinar to find out more about the method I use
in the gym to overcome low back pain and help you achieve better spine health.

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