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Old 11-13-2007, 06:53 PM   #1
Location: Plano, Texas
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 10
Post-op Aikido Training

I am going to have a c-spine fusion done at two levels in a couple of weeks and am fighting with an issue.

My neuro surgeon has told me I have no business trying to get back on the mat because I'm at an increased risk for permanent injury.

My primary care physician, a good man by every measure, said the most reasonable thing: if I discovered that playing golf might cause me to be paralyzed, I'd give up golf, find something else, and work hard as hell to love it like I do golf.

And yet I'm trying damn hard to figure out a way to get back on the mat.

I began training in Aikido 15 years ago, and while my training took a couple of turns along the way, there is an excellent school with some very good people right near me; I got to train with them briefly before suffering a c-spine disc herniation.

An argument can be made that training led to the herniation; another argument can be made that years of bad posture, obesity, and structural weakness caused it; yet another is that its degenerative and it was going to happen no matter what.

Either way, I've been told that in 12 weeks post op I will be considered "recovered".

The surgery is at two levels, not just one. . .

Has ANYONE had any experience with going back to training after c-spine fusion?

Even modifying training, if the bones in the neck cannot bend, I can't imagine taking a simple back roll; and wonder what the risk of a breakfall would be, no matter how properly taken. . . and what of the odd "improper" breakfall. . . you know, the bad fall that simply just happens when you're distracted for the blink of an eye.

I'll stop rambling now. . .

Ryan Riggs
Plano, Texas

Currently on the disabled list.
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Old 11-13-2007, 07:00 PM   #2
steven turner
Dojo: tenshin Aikido dojo colwyn bay
Location: Prestatyn
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 3
Re: Post-op Aikido Training

Hi mate so sorry to hear about yor injury ive been doing Aikido for at least 10yrs now ive had my ups and downs anyway hope you get better soon.
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Old 11-13-2007, 10:59 PM   #3
Janet Rosen
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Location: Left Coast
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 4,340
Re: Post-op Aikido Training

Many people have found ways to slowly, carefully return to training by focusing on what they CAN do - which for many people may include never again rolling or falling, say, but working slowly with a partner on connection, stability/instability issues just TO but not past the point of kuzushi. With an instructor and students willing to work w/ you, many things are possible.
BEST of luck!!!

Janet Rosen
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 11-14-2007, 12:00 AM   #4
Location: Tempe, Arizona
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 37
Re: Post-op Aikido Training

I had back surgery a while back (though not as severe as what you're getting) and it really screwed me up. I had been training for about a decade at that point. I tried to return to the mat sooner than I really should have. (I believe I gave it two months and got back on even though my neurosurgeon said I should wait a minimum of three.) That made me need to stay off the mat for quite a bit longer. I've been really sporadic since. By the far the biggest limitation I've noticed is that my flexibility is completely shot. Before the surgery I was really limber and now, I'm below average. It does seem to be very slowly coming back.

My biggest suggestions would be to:
1) Absolutely do not get back on the mat until you're ready to. Watch if you have to, but don't play until you've completely healed.
2) When you do get back on the mat ease your way back into ukemi. Stop when it feels like you're pushing. Don't push through that point or you'll be out quite a bit longer. Do throws only once you've done your fill of ukemi.

Hang in there, you may be in for quite a struggle if you try to keep up with Aikido, but it's doable. I had a lot of teary moments where I kept thinking my Aikido career was over. Best of luck to you.
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Old 11-15-2007, 08:54 PM   #5
Location: Plano, Texas
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 10
Re: Post-op Aikido Training

Thanks y'all for your responses. . .

I guess I was feeling a bit down about the whole thing. Every time I feel like I'm getting back into training, something seems to get in the way.

Knee surgery sidelined me twice, and this threatened to doom it forever.

But a funny thing hit me. . . and the kind words that were offered helped reinforce that.

Given time, I can train, though not like I did when I was 21. I don't bounce as easily, the aches don't go away as quickly, and that was long before spinal herniations became an issue.

And while my training would be somewhat limited, it would still be training.

This morning I had a steroid injection (for pain relief prior to surgery); the steroid fluid has been putting pressure on the spinal cord all day long and to say it's been a day of excruciating pain is an understatement. I literally haven't felt anything like this all year.

And yet, I managed to work from home, I managed to be productive, heck, I even managed to chop veggies and make a roux at dinner.

I can take the same approach to Aiki training.

The famous Chinese curse "may you live in interesting times" comes to mind.

The next few months will be interesting to say the least.

Ryan Riggs
Plano, Texas

Currently on the disabled list.
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