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Swimming post op?

FormerfireFFormerfire Posts: 148
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:22 AM in Exercise and Rehab
Hi, does anyone know when we are allowed to swim following microdiscectomy L5S1....I am going to Hawaii in 2 weeks, and would like to snorkel...but i need to practice swimming before i go (if i am allowed).

I am 10 weeks post op
Thanks :)


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,733
    The best source for that answer would be your doctor.

    When I had my lumbar surgeries, I was told that after 6 weeks, I could use a kick board to swim with. (I had no fusion or hardware).
    When I had my cervical surgeries, I was told that I shouldnt go swimming for at least 3 months and then only with a kickboard. Now, 10+ years post cervical surgeries, I still can not swim the normal stroke. I can not turn my head side to side, so instead, I swim with my face in the water and just start swimming away and then bounce out for some AIR!
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • :) hi! you need to ask your doctor about that! you don't want to do anything to ruin a successful recovery! have fun in Hawaii! Jenny :)
  • Thanks guys! I rang the surgeon and he said I could have started swimming at 6 weeks. So i will get my very unfit butt down to the pool and see if i dont drown.

    I am very nervous about going away cause 9hr flight, my nerve is still playing up......then i have a 4 day conference.

    Might get some drugs just in case :( but i dont want to do that/
  • :P I had my 360 L5-S1 surgery 14 weeks ago today. I do some home exercises in the pool (asked my PT for help) I do some straight leg raises to the front, side and back. These and some stretching help before the more difficult stuff. I walk in the low end frontwards, backwards and side to side ( about 5 xs with there and back being one time) I do this in the low end. Then I get a kick board and do long laps. As many as I can, some days 4-5 others 8-9. Then I get two pool noodles and put them across my chest/under my arms and just hang in the deep end. I has help my daily endurance for other things, and I get to be outside with my family. Maybe you should get a mask and snorkle at walmart and practice that type of swimming as you feel comfortable in your own pool.

    I am still having quite a bit of nerve and back pain. But, I am able to get through it on most days, the lyrica helps. Just do what you can and be safe. :S

    I do have a great lounge chair...so afterwards I have a nice cold iced tea and read for a while! ;)

    BTW I would ask for something to bring with you for pain just incase....you don't have to take it if your don't need it.

    Anna :D
  • I was given the ok to swim @ 6 weeks but it did not feel comfortable until about 4 months. Now I'm almost 6 months post op and swimming 1/2 mile 3 x a week.
    I am surprised your doc is letting you fly on a long flight. My surgeon STAMPED NO on that idea very quickly when i called and asked about flying to Europe@ 4 months. He said maybe at 6 months.
    Have a great time in Hawaii. It is awesome!
  • 3 weeks out from MD at S1/L5 & L4/5.

    PT approved 500 yds 3x this week, 3 x 1000yds next week and 3 x 1500yds the following week. Freestyle only, no flip turns.

    It felt good, though I was a bit hesitate about rotating at first. Could have gone longer, but followed the plan.

    I was consistently swimming 3500-4000 yds 4x a week prior to surgery, so I'm sure that makes a difference.

  • Well i took all my meds with me ( i was loaded up) but the only thing i needed was one lyrica on the flight back. (And i am sure that actually didnt do anything, probably more in my mind).

    I took my special back support which helped heaps.

    Hee hee.....i actually didnt even ask the surgeon...just got my gp to give me some meds lol. (ooops).

    But, i survived and had fun.
    (I still slept on the floor in the hotel - crappy soft beds).

    Thanks for all your help. I will now attempt to swim laps as i need to work off the steady cheeseburger diet that is prevalent in Hawaii 8}
  • i would like to comment that even after the target period to pass , you may still need the doctors advice and what is felt by you.If recovered then ok otherwise wait some thing more.
  • My flight was only about 2 hours, but I flew 3 days after my surgery. I did not hurt me at all, mind I slept most of the way and did not notice any pain.
  • Hi,
    After advice at 4 weeks post op from my Physio I started swimming at 6 weeks. Post op from L5/S1 microdiscectomy for sequestered disc and severe pain and immobility plus loss of foot raise on left.

    I'm 9 weeks post op swimming a mile front crawl at a time and feeling great. The swimming has reduced my sciatic pain considerably and continues to do so.

    My first swim was a gentle slow meander for about 2 laps at 5 weeks, more of a float really. The 10 days later I swam 12 laps gently. everything felt great so I swam 22 laps a few days later. Then a few days after that I swam 40 laps and my pain level dropped significantly. This really boosted my hope for being pain free again. In the past 2 weeks I've been swimming about 40 laps front crawl, back stroke and breast stroke 4-5 times a weeks and my comfort level and strength is increasing really quickly and pain is diminishing every day.

    For me I have found swimming to make a huge difference to the speed of my recovery.

    I was pretty fit before the operation but had not swam for several years. Swimming is going to replace running for me from now on I think. I was still very uncomfortable with pretty high levels of sciatic pain. I was still finding it very uncomfortable to sit down.

    I have found that by avoiding sitting and either walking, laying flat (stomach or back or up on elbows) or standing I reduce inflaming the nerve any more allowing it to heal. I guess the swimming is strengthening my whole frame, stretching my muscles, moving my nerve and taking nutrients/fluids to the nerve and discs and other tissues helping them o heal too.

    It's really helping me. I'm starting to not even have to think about pain meds and even beginning to sit down without thinking too much about it for short periods.

    Be encouraged you will heal : )
  • Welcome to spine health! Sounds like you are doing really well post op. Wow 40 laps in the pool...that is awesome!

    I am 12 weeks post op discectomy/lami L4-S1. I also have foot drop. Recovery (or lack of it) has been frustrating.

    I was wondering how the swimming is affecting you foot drop. Is it helping it at all? I currently use a muscle stimulator on my foot, but it doesn't seem to be doing much. Would love to try swimming, but of course still gearing up to try it, scared of increased pain.

    Keep up the great recovery! Wishing you all the best!

    >:D< Karen
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • Hi Karen,

    My ability to do left foot raises, I think it's called plantar flexion started coming back at about 5 weeks and is now back to full strength. I've nearly got all my feeling back under my foot on the outside and behind my thigh. So my sciatic nerve is healing really well. Just some residual pain in my left glutes, so I avoid sitting!!

    I flew 5000 miles a 20 hr journey with a 10 hr flight at 6 weeks after my surgeon's approval. I stood up and walked around the plane for at least 4 hrs of the flight and took pain meds. Not suprisingly this aggravated the nerve some and I was in much more pain for a week afterwards and that's when I really started my regular lap swimming and that's when all the sciatic pain began to diminish significantly.

    I now that for me regaining my Hope in a full recovery has been the real key for me.

    I was so disappointed 2 weeks post op as it felt like all the nerve pain returned in quite high intensity after a 2 week window of little to no sciatic pain just some mild surgery site discomfort. I had stopped all pain meds the night after surgery. At 2 weeks I was back on them again at quite high doses. I even wondered if I had re-herniated.

    My surgeon was very reassuring and said the pain often comes back a couple of days after surgery and it's very normal especially if you had intense pain pre-op.

    Physio was also very reassuring at 4 weeks post op. Again saying the pain would diminish and the right exercise was key.

    I have just travelled half way around the world to return to bible college. So everyday my fellow students who all believe in healing pray for me.

    Healing is such a fascinating subject to me. The Jesus of the bible healed everyone who came to him. It's my experience that he's still in the business healing us today.

    I know the particular Tuesday 2 weeks ago when my pain diminished significantly I just had the complete confidence that I would heal fully. It was like there was a switch in my thinking.

    Karen you will heal, keep believing : )

  • Formerfire said:
    Hi, does anyone know when we are allowed to swim following microdiscectomy L5S1....I am going to Hawaii in 2 weeks, and would like to snorkel...but i need to practice swimming before i go (if i am allowed).

    I am 10 weeks post op
    Thanks :)
    Do not do anything without seeking advice from your surgon or physio. Major surgery this takes a long time to heal take it slow.
  • alisarialtunaalisarialtun Posts: 1
    edited 08/26/2012 - 11:03 AM
    I had L5 discectomy 25 days ago (at 1st of august) and started swimming in an olympic pool by surgeon's advice. Swimming felt much better at first, decreased my pain significantly (only temporarily, after the session I was feeling great) but for the last two sessions it is OK but not as miraculous as it was last week.

    Before the operation, I had very bad pain on my left leg, and now I still have cramps and feeling of being pulled in my calf while taking steps and near my butt.
    I think my spine is also disturbed by the previous pressure but not sure. When I think of spine I always recall the help of Vitamin B over nerves, does anyone suggest that? (I will ask my surgeon this week)

    just trying to get better by some exercises, my doctor didn't tell me walking is very important but some leg rise and leg pull exercises in the bed and swimming.

    What positions do you recommend for swimming? I use backstroke (with only legs) and freestyle, and sometimes I use a board and swim with legs only while my face is in water and I sometimes do bicycling movements in the water but not sure which one is the best for making a secure place for my nerve
  • One of the biggest obstacles in any exercise to lose weight is to regain the lost pounds, If you want to achieve permanent weight loss, you will have to make permanent changes in your life and weight loss counseling program....
  • in my last five surgeries. i was told I could get into the water as soon has the incissions were healed and not before because of chance of infection if not healed.
  • danapughddanapugh Lebanon, TnPosts: 8
    My doctor ok'd me to start swimming at 4 weeks post op. It all depends on how well your wound looks. I spend 1 1/2 hours in the pool with a flotation belt. I swim a lap and walk a lap until I do about 70 laps. With the belt on I can swim for a longer period of time without getting tired, but I am still exercising my whole body. I switch up swimming strokes to back stroke, breast stroke and free swimming. Makes me feel so good, no back or sciatic pain after swimming. It also cures the stiff feeling in my back that I get at the end of the day after working for 8 hours at a desk. At first I was swimming 6-7 days a week while I was out on medical leave. Now since I am back at work, I try to swim at least 3 days per week.. I can really tell a difference in my core muscles.
  • danapughddanapugh Lebanon, TnPosts: 8

    Before I had my spinal fusion done, I could not walk through the grocery store without having terrible pain in my back for the next 48 hours. I rode on the electric carts in stores. I could not stand to cook or clean. Now , I can do anything I want. I recently went to a wedding downtown, had to park several blocks away, and I was able to walk to the wedding site. I was able to walk around mingling with friends, standing while people were moving about and had no pain. I totally think the surgery was a great success and the swimming helped me get my back muscles strong again. I highly recommend swimming for post-op back exercise!

  • LizLiz Posts: 7,874
    This is a very old discussion the member who created it hasn't been on the forum for 4 years so I am closing the discussion.

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
This discussion has been closed.
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