Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis: Exercises

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Your Care Instructions

Here are some examples of typical rehabilitation exercises for your condition. Start each exercise slowly. Ease off the exercise if you start to have pain.

Your doctor or physiotherapist will tell you when you can start these exercises and which ones will work best for you.

How to do the exercises

Single knee-to-chest

Single knee-to-chest exercise
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slide 1 of 6, Single knee-to-chest,
  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. You can put a small pillow under your head and neck if it is more comfortable.
  2. Bring one knee to your chest, keeping the other foot flat on the floor.
  3. Keep your lower back pressed to the floor. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
  4. Relax, and lower the knee to the starting position.
  5. Repeat with the other leg. Repeat 2 to 4 times with each leg.
  6. To get more stretch, put your other leg flat on the floor while pulling your knee to your chest.

Double knee-to-chest

Double knee-to-chest exercise
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slide 2 of 6, Double knee-to-chest,
  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. You can put a small pillow under your head and neck if it is more comfortable.
  2. Bring both knees to your chest.
  3. Keep your lower back pressed to the floor. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
  4. Relax, and lower your knees to the starting position.
  5. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

Alternate arm and leg (bird dog) exercise

Alternate arm and leg exercise
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slide 3 of 6, Alternate arm and leg (bird dog) exercise,

Note: Do this exercise slowly. Try to keep your body straight at all times.

  1. Start on the floor, on your hands and knees.
  2. Tighten your belly muscles by pulling your belly button in toward your spine. Be sure you continue to breathe normally and do not hold your breath.
  3. Raise one arm off the floor, and hold it straight out in front of you. Be careful not to let your shoulder drop down, because that will twist your trunk.
  4. Hold for about 6 seconds, then lower your arm and switch to your other arm.
  5. Repeat 8 to 12 times on each arm.

When you can do this exercise with ease and no pain, repeat steps 1 through 5. But this time do it with one leg raised off the floor, holding your leg straight out behind you. Be careful not to let your hip drop down, because that will twist your trunk.

When holding your leg straight out becomes easier, try raising your opposite arm at the same time, and repeat steps 1 through 5.

Bridging

Bridging exercise
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slide 4 of 6, Bridging,
  1. Lie on your back with both knees bent. Your knees should be bent about 90 degrees.
  2. Then push your feet into the floor, squeeze your buttocks, and lift your hips off the floor until your shoulders, hips, and knees are all in a straight line.
  3. Hold for about 6 seconds as you continue to breathe normally, and then slowly lower your hips back down to the floor and rest for up to 10 seconds.
  4. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Curl-ups

Curl-up exercise
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slide 5 of 6, Curl-ups,
  1. Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Your feet should be flat on the floor, about 30 centimetres from your buttocks.
  2. Cross your arms over your chest. If this bothers your neck, try putting your hands behind your neck (not your head), with your elbows spread apart.
  3. Slowly tighten your belly muscles and raise your shoulder blades off the floor.
  4. Keep your head in line with your body, and do not press your chin to your chest.
  5. Hold this position for 1 or 2 seconds, then slowly lower yourself back down to the floor.
  6. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Plank

Plank exercise
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slide 6 of 6, Plank,

Note: Do this exercise slowly. Try to keep your body straight at all times, and do not let one hip drop lower than the other.

  1. Lie on your stomach, resting your upper body on your forearms.
  2. Tighten your belly muscles by pulling your belly button in toward your spine.
  3. Keeping your knees on the floor, press down with your forearms to lift your upper body off the floor.
  4. Hold for about 6 seconds, then lower your body to the floor. Rest for up to 10 seconds.
  5. Repeat 8 to 12 times.
  6. Over time, work up to holding for 15 to 30 seconds each time.
  7. If this exercise is easy to do with your knees on the floor, try doing this exercise with your knees and legs straight, supported by your toes on the floor.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: May 23, 2016