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Lessons for Post Spine Surgery

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
LisaMarie suggested posting this question here from a thread about my husband's lumbar laminectomy....

Eight weeks post-surgery. his birthday. Trainer says he's recovering faster than anyone he's seen

Went for a nine-mile walk up through the golden aspen, mixed conifer, open top of the hill. There's a bit of a crisp feel to the evening air and we're looking forward to skiing.

He is understandably nervous. Still gets tired sooner than he used to and is working on balance issues created by having his back muscles so rudely stressed. So he wants to start the season with some lessons to improve skiing efficiency and to get back into it carefully. (i know, skiing carefully is an oxymoron, but there you go.) He is a very good, l'd guess level 8 skier and before the operation favored natural snow, bumps and trees. (IMO his groomed skiing could use some improvement: )

Having had good and awful experiences with lessons, I want to make sure we get the right person or lesson plan. We ski Santa Fe, Taos and have season passes to Winter Park. We were thinking about the Taos locals clinics, but I worry that he needs more one-on-one instruction.

Any recommendations of indivuduals who would be good with these issues?
And Thank you!
post #2 of 16

After Surgery Season

I had a 4 level fusion of my cervical spine last a year ago April. I rehabbed like a son-of-a-gun and listened to my team of Doctors before I added new activities to my regimen.

Last season was my best racer year in 20 years - thanks to my team of doctors.

My advice with lessons is try to select professionals that have some perspective on the come back your husband is about to make. My experience tells me that he should experience less pain that before the surgery and therefore he may try things that may push the envelope a bit. The PT's know what zone he should play in for the first year and he should pay close attention to what that Zone is.

Good luck, it should be the start of a new career without limitations if the regimen is followed and taking baby steps in pushing the envelope the first season. Most importantly, listen to your body, it will tell you what to do and what not to do.

Here is what I came back from to win the Nastar Championships and finishe second in the IMD Men's 6 overall standings (I'm 51). This is just for perspective.

X-ray

And here is what level I competed at only 8 months after surgery

Master Nationals

I hope this is encouraging!
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thank you Gary,

like you, he is experiencing a whole new life without pain. You have him pegged BTW.
I really don't know how to ID an instructor who understands the "comeback phase" and am hoping for a referral to someone you've skied with - or that those of you who are instructors and feel you fit the bill will self-nominate.

I've had some spectacularly bad experiences just going to a SS desk and taking my chances, that I'd rather not go that route. We are willing to invest in private lessons to get him back into it, but want it well spent We're not looking for a PT on skis, just a truly competent instructor at a pretty high level who will be sensitive to his situation and who can focus on helping him ski more efficiently as he builds his stregth.
post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom
Thank you Gary,

like you, he is experiencing a whole new life without pain. You have him pegged BTW.
I really don't know how to ID an instructor who understands the "comeback phase" and am hoping for a referral to someone you've skied with - or that those of you who are instructors and feel you fit the bill will self-nominate.

I've had some spectacularly bad experiences just going to a SS desk and taking my chances, that I'd rather not go that route. We are willing to invest in private lessons to get him back into it, but want it well spent We're not looking for a PT on skis, just a truly competent instructor at a pretty high level who will be sensitive to his situation and who can focus on helping him ski more efficiently as he builds his stregth.
Well since I don't know anyone that I could recommend you can always come to Park City. We will be having several Race Camps where I can work with him directly (I'm a Level 200 USSA Certified Coach) or I'd be glad to just ski with you guys at Park City, gratis. We have worked out a technique that works very well for the walking wounded (as well as top level racers) called waist steering. If you are coming up to PC area, let me know
post #5 of 16
Sounds like he should be skiing carefully to start with rather than trying to get back to where he was, and he needs to look at re-bedding his ski style, so he's not stressing the body. So if he can decide firmly that this will be a Technical season, he will be able to ski for many many more years. Trouble with people who've been good skiiers skiing a certain way, they always want to return to that way. Sounds like for him, technique needs some solid work.
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Exactly, Ant. And, Gary, if we can find our way to PC, expect a call! Thank you for your generous offer.
post #7 of 16

Cervical Fusion

Hey Mom,
A few years ago, I was hit by an out of control skier, while I was leading a lesson at Stowe. Basically, my neck was broken, and I had to have a fusion at C5-C6.
The following season, 6 months after surgery, I was back, going strong, and one year later I passed both parts of my Level 3 in one season.......so it can be done!
I am, also, well on the downhill side of 50.
My advice, fwiw, is to leave him alone...give him space and time...lessons can come later...
Physically, he might be fine, I was..but, it took some time before I was able to separate trepidation and technique so that I was open to focus on my skiing skills.
Decide what the skills goal of any prospective lesson might be, being patronized by an instructor/clinic leader would have infuriated me, and made me reluctant to seek formal instruction.
In your circumstances, I would suggest that compatibility would trump most other attributes of a ski teacher. The first lessons after such a serious injury have to be fun, a joy, rather than technique oriented.
If I can think of anything else from my experience, I will post again!
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
skiswift, what a thoughtful, empathetic post; thank you. Actually, the lessons were his idea. Think he believes he'll feel more secure with a pro by his side. But your recommendation for looking at compatability is a good one and I appreciate it!
post #9 of 16

Pay attention to what the doctors say

Mom:

I had a lumbar micro-diskectomy (I have no idea if the spelling is right) which appears similar to a quick google on the laminectomy (except micro surgery with 1" scar instead). In my case they cut away part of the spinal whoozit to free up room for the nerve AND ALSO shaved part of the disk where it was bulging so that it wouldn't press on the nerve. Because of the shaving of the disk (I think) they recommended that I avoid things that really twisted or torqued the back (like golf or baseball) for six months while the disk surface healed. I unilaterally decided to avoid racquetball (the twisting plus the squatted playing position) for another six months. That's been more than 6 years and I have had no problems whatsoever since.

Seems like the psychology can go two ways. Number 1 is the person to tries to do too much too soon to prove to himself (or others) that he's still as spry as he wishes he were. The other is the person who withdraws to some degree because he is concerned about what happens if it happens again (there's only so much that can be cut away) and spinal surgery has a pretty high rate of "re-do's". I remember feeling a little bit of both.

I would pay a lot of attention to what the doctors say about what he can do and when, and then help him see himself if you see him doing too much or not doing enough. I would also do the PT if they recommend it, since loss of muscle mass frequently has occurred if neural function has been impaired (if the nerves don't fire, the muscles get lazy from doing nothing).

Good luck.
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Gandalf, I'm so glad things worked out for you. He had exactly what you did, but the standard, not micro, version, adding trauma to the muscles. They didn't prescribe PT, but he is doing it anyhow through the gym we go to. You are right it is a difficult line to walk between too much and not enough. So far, i think he's been erring on the side of too much. Thanks for the good thoughts!
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 

bump

The doctor gave the laminectomy patient his skiing papers yesterday. He can ski, but not bumps for now. He is going up to Winter Park arriving the 21st and staying through the 30th. We have family there and season passes, so WP is a given.

I am seeking an instructor to help with getting back into it with a private lesson or two or three. The doctor (who skis) and he both think a lesson is important due to the tendency to be timid post-op.

Anyone have a suggestion as to who? RustyGuy or Lenny Blake - are either of you up for something like this, or could you recommend a colleague who would be capable (and available)? Help me out - don't send me to the dreaded ski school desk, please. Anyone else feel free to chime in or PM me.

Thanks.
post #12 of 16
The tale of caution: My first season back after back surgery, the first day back on the slopes I took a few easy runs - blue groomers at A-Basin. Thought to myself, "hey I can do this," and promptly headed over to the North Chute by the West Wall. Where I quickly found out that I couldn't do it, and ended up taking a nasty fall that ended in shoulder surgery.

But, the optimist side: once I learned (the hard way) that I couldn't necessarily do what I had done before - I eased into it. I went back to the basics, and made sure I could, on the nice, smoothly groomed greens and blues, make the turns that are necessary in the moguls and on the steeps.
Only when I was certain that I could make the turns that are necessary did I head back into the "fun" stuff. And even then I eased into it - taking the short little bumps on areas of blues that were ungroomed, taking a steep, but groomed black, etc. Now, after spending some time practicing the "basics" again on the groomers, I find that I'm back and better than before. So tell your hubby that the time spent on the "easy" runs, re-learning and practicing the "fundamentals" will pay off - both in terms of getting him back to skiing the stuff he likes to ski AND in actually making him better at it than he was before!

J
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

Winter Park Instructor needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by jake75
The tale of caution: My first season back after back surgery, the first day back on the slopes I took a few easy runs - blue groomers at A-Basin. Thought to myself, "hey I can do this," and promptly headed over to the North Chute by the West Wall. Where I quickly found out that I couldn't do it, and ended up taking a nasty fall that ended in shoulder surgery.

But, the optimist side: once I learned (the hard way) that I couldn't necessarily do what I had done before - I eased into it. I went back to the basics, and made sure I could, on the nice, smoothly groomed greens and blues, make the turns that are necessary in the moguls and on the steeps.
Only when I was certain that I could make the turns that are necessary did I head back into the "fun" stuff. And even then I eased into it - taking the short little bumps on areas of blues that were ungroomed, taking a steep, but groomed black, etc. Now, after spending some time practicing the "basics" again on the groomers, I find that I'm back and better than before. So tell your hubby that the time spent on the "easy" runs, re-learning and practicing the "fundamentals" will pay off - both in terms of getting him back to skiing the stuff he likes to ski AND in actually making him better at it than he was before!

J
Very inspirational and exactly what his plan is; thank you!
all the more important to find good instruction.
Helooooo anyone out there?
Can't seem to find an interested instructor or referal for a WP instructor.
post #14 of 16
You will probably think I'm nuts....

but I'd contact their adaptive people....

the links are somewhere here from when I complained about them being rude.....

A good adaptive instructor will be waaaaaayyyy good at stuff like protecting back & changing technique to do this......

My experience over in OZ anyway.... they seem to be well trained to find out about various stuff & change as needed....

Adaptive does NOT mean bunny slope.... Michael Milton does NOT ski slow....
post #15 of 16
Mom,
Quote:
Sounds like he should be skiing carefully to start with rather than trying to get back to where he was, and he needs to look at re-bedding his ski style, so he's not stressing the body. So if he can decide firmly that this will be a Technical season, he will be able to ski for many many more years. Trouble with people who've been good skiiers skiing a certain way, they always want to return to that way. Sounds like for him, technique needs some solid work.
Quote:
Because of the shaving of the disk (I think) they recommended that I avoid things that really twisted or torqued the back (like golf or baseball) for six months while the disk surface healed. I unilaterally decided to avoid racquetball (the twisting plus the squatted playing position) for another six months. That's been more than 6 years and I have had no problems whatsoever since.
Knowing some people that have had similar surgeries, a fast recovery doesn't mean things arre healed fully. Overdoing it because one feels better (espicially before the sugery) can cause damage that is irreversable. A very slow and easy start into skiing again, for a skier of that level, is really a hard thing to do. There are no second chances if he hurts himself. Lessons and a plan on where to ski for the first season is important for him and you. Good luck to both of you.

RW
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks Ron. Thanks, Disski. It's funny we didn't think of the adaptive route, since i teach it and he used to. In fact, it's likely the 200 lb mono-skier who was his last student contributed to the need for surgery in the first place. It's true that slow and easy is actually hard. That's why the lessons are so important. Thank you all.
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