Dear Neil, I had a lumbar discectomy 1 year ago on L5. I was told to stay a
way from running. But I really want to start back. Is there a easy way to get
started back running without injuring myself. I didn't injure my back from
running but from lifting. Is there a reason to stay away from running?
Laura - you are correct in assuming that you can run. The question is "should
you?" Consider that the disc is now effectively a washer between your L4 and L5
vertebral body, and that all of your upper body weight is transfered through the
disc to your lower body with every step. The problem with running is that it is
a repetitive pounding activity that, over time, will take it's toll on your
tissue. Now that the disc has been reduced from a shock absorber to a washer - a
space holder effectively, how much pounding can you reasonably tolerate?
My advice to you is to run only on soft surfaces - dirt trails, tartan track,
grass, and avoid any hard surfaces - concrete especially. Also, you must have
shoes in excellent condition, and if you start to run, make sure that they stay
so. Further, you must start back slowly. Begin with a one or two mile walk/jog,
and gradually increase your pace, always measuring your response. Listen to your
back along the way. Being in excellent condition will help prevent future
eprisodes of back pain, so it is good that you are walking down this path...but
you have to proceed with caution, and you have to think long term. You might
consider some non-impact activities like roller blades as an alternative...Also,
as long as your back troubles you - use ice!