For patients with spinal conditions, water presents a “near-weightless” environment, where the spinal musculature can be exercised without the need to support an axial load. We often use pool therapy in the early phase of rehabilitation after a lumbar fusion (as early as three weeks postop once the incision is healed and watertight). We instruct patients to do self-directed deep water jogging several times per week with flotation support for 30-45 minutes per session. There are many indoor pools throughout the Treasure Valley (Nampa Rec Center, Boise and Caldwell YMCA’s, athletic clubs). We have also had good experience with patients in more rural areas using some of Idaho’s many commercial hot spring pools. Pool therapy can also be helpful as a form of low impact exercise for deconditioned patients with weight problems.
Self Directed Pool Therapy
Deep water jogging
Begin in deep water holding onto a floatation device Keep your body vertical with your spine in a neutral position Move your legs in an alternate jogging action: raise each knee in toward the chest in front of the body, and then fully extend each log This should simulate a long-stride jogging technique.
Deep water kicks
Begin in deep water holding onto a floatation device Keep you body vertical with your spine in a neutral position Keeping your legs straight with knees locked, alternate swinging one leg forward and one leg backward This exercise will work the paraspinal lumbar musculatureFrequency: 2-4 times per week for 10-13 minutes: gradually increasing.
Special Instructions or Precautions
Find the neutral position of your spine by standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Stand with your knees slightly bent and your weight evenly distributed. Tighten your stomach muscles and you should feel balanced. Keep your stomach muscles tightened during all the exercises.