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Answer to your Health Question

Question (03/29/2011):

Spondylolysis with spondylolisthesis | Sports I can practice and sports I should avoid.

I have spondylolysis with spondylolisthesis in L4 and would like to know what are the sports I can practice and which ones I should avoid.




Dear Carolina,

Spondylolisthesis Grade 3 and grade 4 patients should avoid contact sports or sports involving high speed and changes of direction.

You can find more information at:

Spondylolysis with spondylolisthesis | Sports I can practice and sports I should avoid.

To avoid spondylolisthesis from sports, stay away from hyperextension activities.

Most patients with spondylolisthesis should avoid activities that might cause more stress to the lumbar spine, such as heavy lifting and sports activities like gymnastics, football, competitive swimming, and diving.

At home you may want to avoid sitting for long periods of time, wear a support brace if recommended, take nutritional supplements that help rebuild disc cartilage, do exercises that strengthen your spine, sleep on a supportive mattress, sit in an ergonomically designed chair, and modify your daily activities as needed.

Sports that involve repetitive hyperextension and axial loading of the lumbar spine may result in repetitive microtrauma to the pars interarticularis, resulting in spondylolysis and sometimes spondylolisthesis.

Examples of such activities include gymnastics, football (lineman), wrestling, weight lifting (particularly standing overhead presses), rowing, pole vaulting, diving, hurdling, swimming (especially the butterfly stroke), baseball (especially pitching), tennis (especially serving), sailing (particularly the hiking maneuver), and volleyball.

Gymnastics and football are generally considered the highest risk sports.

There are several exercises and stretches generally recommended for people with spondylolisthesis .

These exercises focus on strengthening your core muscles because if those muscle groups are strong, they can better support your spine.

Core exercises strengthen your core muscles, including abs, back and pelvis.

Strong core muscles make it easier to do most physical activities.

You can do core exercises on a carpeted floor or mat. Breathe freely and deeply during each exercise. Focus on tightening your deepest abdominal muscle - the transversus abdominis - during each exercise. This is the muscle you feel contracting when you cough.

Repeat core exercises five times. Gradually build up to 10 to 15 repetitions as your strength improves

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