Spondylolesthesis & Karate

Discussion in 'Disabled Martial Artists' started by natrix, Oct 8, 2011.

  1. natrix

    natrix New Member

    I joined MAP yesterday to start making connections before I launch into American Kenpo. I have a Lot of questions about practicing martial arts if someone is prone to back pain flaring up. I would like to talk to folks that specifically deal with spondylolesthesis where the base of the spine tends to slip and cause muscle spasms and pain. I am also interested in learning the best ways to strengthen the core without straining the back. Don't tell me not to take Karate...tell me how to do it with a back that has issues at times. Blessings all...N8
  2. Simon

    Simon Moved on Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    natrix, I gave a reply to your post yesterday and suggested talking to an expert.
    Have you sought out any kind of medical practitioner?

    If you have spoken to your doctor or chiro[ractor, what was their advise?

    MAP is fairly quiet on weekends. Be patient and you will get the reply you seek.
  3. natrix

    natrix New Member

    Thanks, Simon. I did get your response...much appreciated. You mentioned speaking to "our doctor" so I thought maybe there was such a person on your forum and I guessed he may respond to the "diabled" section. Common sense, however, seems to be telling me you were suggesting originally to speak to my own doctor and I will absolutely do that. I'm also thinking of finding a good message therapist and chiropractor. I was seeing a chiropractor but they wanted to talk about money more than my back. Funny how that works. Anyway...I will follow up on my end and wait for any interested parties to reply with any further suggestions they might have. (So take the rest of the weekend off! :) Ki-ai!
  4. Kwajman

    Kwajman Penguin in paradise....

    Spondylolesthesis has many levels of severity. Just like a knee or hip issue, you are your own best judge as to what you can and can't do. I've done two martial arts for going on 20 years now even though I know I need a knee replacement.

    Really the best you can do is to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles to give both front and back support and try to keep the bones from 'slipping'. Deal with the pain as you need to and work out while you can. Let us know how you're doing.
  5. Mike Flanagan

    Mike Flanagan Valued Member

    Hi natrix

    First and foremost...pilates. Its an excellent core stability regime. Core stability is what you, in particular, need in order to support your lower spine. Frankly everyone should do core stability exercises even if they don't already have a back problem.

    Other than that I don't have much to add other than this. Why do you want to train. Answer this (for yourself, not for my benefit) and then you can look at what art or school is right for you. If you're interested in competing in a particular sporting environment then you might need to do stuff that places greater strain on the lower back, such as high kicks or lots of throwing / being thrown. But I would suggest you avoid such activities if you can. There are many arts to choose from, think carefully before selecting the right one for you.

  6. querist

    querist MAP Resident Linguist?

    As a physician, I am going to recommend, rather strongly, that you talk to YOUR doctor about this. Talk to the doctor who diagnosed the spoldylolisthesis and ask her/him about your planned activities. There are normally five recognized grades of spondylolisthesis, ranging from the very mild grade 1 to a grade 5 where the vertebral body is completely anterior (forward) of the next lower one and there is no overlap at all. Limitations on activity vary greatly depending on the severity of the spoldylolisthesis and other related factors. Anyone who attempts to give you more detailed advice in an online forum is at best foolish and at worst is guilty of malpractice IMPO (in my professional opinion) because without seeing the films and at least having access to the results of a thorough orthopaedic exam, there is simply not enough information upon which to base any recommendations other than "don't".
  7. Mike Flanagan

    Mike Flanagan Valued Member

    natrix did actually give a little more detail (re: the severity of his condition) in a different thread. But you've got a point - a proper, informed medical opinion would be the right place to start!

  8. querist

    querist MAP Resident Linguist?

    I can't find the other thread - sorry.

    As to how to practice, talk to your doctor. Please. I don't want to give bad advice since I don't know enough about your situation.

    I will say that you need to avoid anything that causes undue stress on your lower back. More details are needed to be able to give better suggestions - details including exact location of the spondylo, your overall weight (are you thin, average, overweight), the style of martial art you are studying and your rank/grade (to have an idea of the level at which you are practicing), etc.
  9. Late for dinner

    Late for dinner Valued Member

    It's a tough call but yes first check with your medical doctor to see if there is any conclusive reason why you should not be taking karate. TBH even then you may want a second opinion from an MD that has a sports background. Sorry querist(no disrespect intended) but outside of the US chiropractors aren't considered physicians from what I have seen. At least in Commonwealth countries they are considered complementary practitioners the same as osteopaths (and I know that D.O.'s are fully licensed physicians in the US as I partly trained under some). I don't know where the OP is from thus I have restricted my recommendation of who to see first.

    Now regarding your condition, yes it has to be respected, but you may want to consider a few facts. Much of the theories as to what causes back pain is speculative. Even if you have a specific condition your symptoms may be from a completely different tissue in the back. Yes you may well want to do things eg pilates or other trunk strengthening regimes but if the symptoms you have (and I am assuming you have not had procedures carried out to confirm the source of your complaints eg a diagnositc anaesthetic block or the like) are from another area then your concerns may be unfounded. There has been research to tie over 60% of low back pain to problems with the disc (and I am not talking about herniations or other serious conditions) and these can be treated relatively conservatively.

    Case in point is our own ''superfoot'' Van Zandt ,who has just won world titles (I believe in TKD), after having had major hip arthroplasty. Normally people are taught not to raise their thighs more than 90 degrees and give up sports. You need to be examined by a practitioner who can help you decide what is at fault causing your back pain (A doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor trained in the McKenzie method would be a good start - I am not one of these although I have enough experience with the method to recommend it) and then talk to a sports doctor to help you decide on a training regime to minimized the chances of your aggravating your complaints. This may lead you to find a strength and conditioning coach to help you put the plan into place.

    It's a possibility that the spondylolisthesis is your major concern and that you may have to limit your activities. You might want to look at the work of people like Dr Stuart McGill on strengthening your back as well. Only time and going through the process will give you your answers.

    Hope that this helps.


    Last edited: Oct 11, 2011

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