Canoe with spinal fusion

Has anyone had a lumbar spinal fusion and can still paddle a canoe? What was the recovery period?

no idea of the recovery period
but yes I have a friend who had spinal fusion in several areas and is a canoe /SUP instructor.

I believe racer Bunny Johns had a
spinal fusion, but I don’t know if she was able to continue racing full speed.

sounds like you are going in
for surgery. I had a fusion in the cervical area of c-4,c-5,and c-6 about 8 or 9 years ago. Probably not the same as a lumbar as I was in traction for 4 months. After traction it was a couple more months before I got in a canoe. Have heart, I’ve been paddling ever since


My daughter can paddle with fusion
What slows her down is is what they didn’t fuse but decided to patch with some waxy substance. She has to be careful to not blow that out. Altered paddling not a lot of body rotation at the hips but swing the body, laying over her knees to one side or the other accordingly. it works. It works better than in a kayak because she has the room to move in the canoe. She is my bow person in a tandem now and then. Additionally she has a whole exercise program she does daily that work around her back situation, that helps tremendously. She is 39 YO FWIW.

Not sure its the same thing, but my late friend Greg became a paraplegic from a fall and did a couple solo canoe trips down the mackenzie river in canada for a couple months. 2000 miles solo and couldnt walk.

one thing I learned
after my fusion is that kneeling is much better for the back than sitting. I know that kneeling can be daunting for many folks but if you can get your legs in shape for it the result is much better for your back. Sitting on a hard surface for long periods, your body weight is mostly supported by the spine. this is especially hard on the Lumbar region. When kneeling a great deal of that weight is supported by the knees and legs, taking a load off the spine. This is very true over time. A good kneeling pad and canted seat or kneeling thwart is essential to this endeavor.

Good Luck


Wife had 3,4&5 fused in her mid-
60s and can paddle fine again even after 2 shoulder repairs since. Switches between sitting and kneeling in her solo, single and double blading it. About 6 mos before she resumed and about a year before it became really comfortable again. R

Second opinion?
Check out the study on fusions in the low back and outcomes looking out 7 or 8 years from the diagnosis compared to conservative treatment over the same time. My understanding is the outcomes on average are about the same. They are not doing nearly as many procedures on low backs up our way (Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center) since that study was completed. I know obviously some folks still properly make the decision to go with the interventionists. But - it gives you something to think about.