Request for Help...Weightlifting and Spinal Cord Issues
I would greatly appreciate any help I can get. I know there's a ton of expertise here, and I thank you for your generous sharing of experience and knowledge.
Ok, so here's my problem.
I'm working around cervical spine stenosis with a degree of myelopathy. That means the bones in my neck are squeezing my spinal cord, resulting in sensory alterations and a degree of motor weakness in all extremities, arms and legs.
So my limitations include some weakness and balance and coordination issues. In addition, my surgeon has warned me not to stress my spine too much, he doesn't want me lifting "heavy" and he recommended "machines" for the added stability. I am NOT going to work on "machines.!" I do, however, see the need to keep my weights relatively light, especially working overhead. I also notice that for some reason, I get the worst increase in neuro symptoms after deadlifting, even though my form is pretty good.
I was never very strong, but before I started having symptoms, I was able to:
-DL 160lbs (3 reps)
-press 55 lbs. (3 reps)
-squat 135 lbs. (3 reps)
at a body weight of 145 lbs.
Right now, I can comfortably do 10 reps of the following:
-DL 95 lbs. without increased symptoms
-press 25 lbs. without increased symptoms
-squat 45 lbs. without increased symptoms
I haven't tried lifting any heavier than that for a couple of weeks now, but I know from experience if I try to go much heavier, I start getting increased sensory symptoms---ie, I get pins and needles in my legs. I figure that's a good signal from my spinal cord that it doesn't like heavier weight!
I'm really concerned about trying to maintain as much of my strength and muscle as possible for the duration. Unless my symptoms get much worse, for a variety of reasons having to do with my kids, I'm going to try to postpone surgery as long as possible. Therefore, it behooves me to stay as strong as I can for as long as I can.
Given my limitations, what kind of strength program would best accomplish the goals of avoiding further spine damage and preserving what strength I have?
I know this is a big question. I'd be deeply grateful for any suggestions folks have for me on this. It's dawning on me that since my limitations will probably be around for a while, I'd better have some thoughtful way of dealing with it.
I'm trying to stay focused on what I *can* do, and be glad for it, rather than mourn what I can't.
Thanks so very much for your help.
You may want to try unilateral work, not only is it lighter weight but should also help improve balance stability. Things like 1 legged squats, lunges, 1 legged RDLs. As for overhead work, maybe some lighter explosive work like snatches? You will have to see how you feel on those. I imagine stronger traps will only help to support your neck.
As far as spinal issues, I know people who used one of those inverted (hang by your feet) tables and got a lot of relief from periods of spinal decompression...it may help.
Mike, thank you! What's an RDL?
Lunges and one-legged squats are a GREAT idea.
RDL...type of one legged DL (Romainian Deadlift) with a DB.
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