Spondylolisthesis is a condition whereby the integrity of the spinal column is compromised, allowing one of the lower vertebrae to "slip forward" out of alignment. While the degree of spondylolisthesis can vary widely--from cases that are not even noticeable to ones that require massive lifestyle alterations--effective treatment usually requires the use of regular exercise to strengthen the back and prevent the condition from accelerating.
Where symptoms occur, spondylolisthesis is marked by muscle tightness in the hamstring area, radiating pain throughout the glutes and thigh and localized lower back pain. As far as treatment is concerned, the usual course of action is to merely prescribe a regular stretching and exercising routine. In extremely severe cases, surgery can be required. While spondylolisthesis is usually caused due to age-related arthritis, it can also develop following a spinal fracture from weightlifting or other athletic activity.
In general, yoga is heavily recommended for sufferers of spondylolisthesis as it can help to strengthen and elongate tight and overworked back muscles, providing lasting relief from the condition. Yoga is an ancient form of Indian exercise that merges flexibility training with deep breathing to create a workout that can be described as moving meditation. When practicing yoga while suffering from spondylolisthesis, be careful to go extra slow on each movement, only progressing deeper into the stretch or position once you are absolutely sure it is not irritating your condition. Training in yoga in a group class or on your own three or four times a week can help relieve symptoms.
Beyond yoga, specialized sit-ups can be used to strengthen your core musculature and brace your back against future injury. To perform spondylolisthesis sit-ups, lie on the ground with your feet and lower legs resting on a chair throughout the movement. This will help to take strain off of your back. In performing the movement, you will want to avoid raising your torso more than 30 degrees off the ground. Merely sit up until your head and shoulder blades have left the floor. This will provide a good balance between effective conditioning of the abdominals and avoidance of excessive curvature of the spine.
Stretching is also important to relieve tension off your back. Perform a back flexion stretch by lying on the ground and curl into a ball by simultaneously pulling your knees to your chest and attempting to stretch your head toward your knees. Hold this rounded position for 10 seconds, then release. Repeat for a total of eight to 10 repetitions.
As hamstrings can become overly tight when afflicted with spondylolisthesis, you will need to stretch them on a regular basis. Sit on the ground with one leg fully extended in front of you and the other tucked in so that the bottom of the foot on your off leg is resting against the thigh of your forward leg. Lean forward slowly at the waist until you feel a moderate pull in your hamstring. Hold here for 15 seconds. Repeat three to six times.
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