Old 08-29-2007, 04:35 AM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1
Broken Back

Hi all,
Firstly, thanks to you all for creating such a great forum. My story is a little long winded, but i'll give you the general idea and maybe you can offer some advice/wisdom (I understand that this is an online discussion forum and that people are expressing opinions, and with an issue as complicated as mine that often the 'experts' know best, well, about some things...)

I'm a 21 year old male, very physically active (cycling, hiking, swimming, working out etc.) and over the last 18 months have become regular with my practice of Yoga (Iyengar, some class stuff and 1 on 1, now mostly by myself). About 10 weeks ago I was involved in an accident and have a burst fracture to my L1 vertebrae. The diagnosis from my neurosurgeon was that it was unstable and would be best treated with stabilization surgery. I underwent a fusion from T12 to L2 with lots of screws and rods and am now 7 weeks post op. I am in a brace for another 5 weeks, and am seeing a Physiotherapist who has me doing gentle core stability work and hydrotherapy. Today he cleared me to do some gentle stretching of other areas of my body that have tightened up over the last 2 months, (in which I haven't been able to bend, twist or stretch) like my chest, arms, calves etc.

I am extremely eager to begin practicing again and can't seem to get many answers regarding my prospects. Is it realistic to believe that after the injury heals and the bone sets, that with slow, incremental progression that I'll be able to do forward bends, shoulder stands etc with fused vertebrae (I understand that L1, at the thoracolumbar junction, doesn't actually move that much compared to the thoracic and lower lumbar vertebrae.)

So i guess I'm asking if anyone has had experience or knows anyone who has progressed from a major trauma like and found that yoga has been beneficial, anecdotes welcome. Also, if anyone has any tips on what they think would be good low intensity asanas that I could practice without putting stress on my lower back they would be welcome. As would any info on other styles of yoga that may be particularly beneficial (I think that Iyenga will be good as my studio has a plethora of harwdware, but am always open to new ideas.)

Thanks again for the community and advice that this forum offers,
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:18 AM   #2
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Hey, everybody's story is long winded.
I can do Urdhva Danurasana with fused and sacralized L4-L5.
I guess you need patience, awarness, acceptance and resilience, and you will be OK. And of course a certified and experienced yoga therapist.
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Old 08-29-2007, 01:31 PM   #3
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Dear yoga aspirant,

I have a student who also had a back injury due to a car accident. After prolonged and gentle yoga, he has recovered a lot after perhaps 6 months of practice. He says that the pain is much less and, especially, yoga has given him much more capacity to endure pain.

From my experience in teaching yoga for 7 years I think the following can lead to good results

1) Patience - don't expect results quickly, give it at least 3 to 6 months

2) The practice of deep relaxation and mental healing techniques are very important in addition to asanas. I guide my students (especially those with severe problems) with at least 20 minutes of different types of guided healing procedures

Best wishes
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Old 08-30-2007, 02:11 PM   #4
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More information about the nature of the surgical proceedure is needed.
Was a rod inserted to stabilize the span of vertebrae you outline?
When vertebrae are fused (typically) there is no way to have mobility in that part of the spine. In fact that is the very point of a fusion. Therefore it may not be reasonable to expect to move that which has been prepared to not move at all.
Gordon Kaplan
Founder, Team Yoga
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Certified Purna Yoga Teacher (CPYT-2,000)
M.S. Kinesiology, Indiana University
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Old 08-30-2007, 02:50 PM   #5
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I wanted to share this post that Mukunda Stiles--for whom this forum was originally created--shared with his Structural Yoga Therapy students. I hope it is helpful to you.
I want to offer you something too, but I need to get a little more clear about it first.

Originally Posted by Mukunda View Post
When the spine is fused one must consider the increased demands this places on the regions both above and below the fusion. One cannot do much for increasing ROM of the region of the fusion; instead focus on the above and below regions. maximize their tone with the sankalpa of making them twice as strong as they other regions. Strong gluteals, latissimus, and erectors especially. You have to see what happens in ROM and MT on psoas to see if it can be isolated from its neighbors. if so then be more focused there too.

As for pain management do all you can i find the shotgun approach to be the best - giving up to 4 techniques for one practice. Yoga Nidra, breathe below navel, slow down the breath, find the ida and pingala subtle nadi at the entrance and exit of nose. all four will work one may be best but often not for long so keep all going. I am now teaching pranayama in Ayurveda context more this will be detailed in AYT book coming soon.

namaste mukunda
Kind wishes,

Nichole Nurenberg-Miller
Structural & Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist
Certified Yoga Therapist ? RYT500

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