Kayaking after spinal fusion

I had a lumbar spinal fusion (L4-S1) April 8. Will I still be able to kayak after I recover? If so how long did it take to be able to paddle again.

Ask your surgeon
Why would you ask opinions of strangers?


– Last Updated: May-30-15 7:28 AM EST –

I would agree to ask your surgeon. Be sure to explain the motion of kayak paddling, in particular the twisting of the trunk (maybe even send him/her a link to some visual diagrams or instructional video so it's clear). Perhaps kayaking will be out, or perhaps your stroke can be modified and/or you can use a paddle with a small blade to reduce forces transferred through your back.

I was in my solo canoe 3 months after same surgery. I advised my surgeon and PT that I wanted to start paddling again and was advised to wait 3 months and to be careful with twisting motions. I also needed help with carrying my canoe. You have to let your body tell you if you are doing something wrong. If you feel pain or discomfort, stop what you are doing. I modified my paddling in the beginning to compensate but now at one year, feel pretty much back to normal.

Do talk to your surgeon and physical therapist and do all the stretches and exercise advised so you can get your strength back. The stretching and walking is very important.

Another yes
I had L 3,4 @ 5 fused 15 years ago. Started paddling 10 years ago. Stiff and a little clumsy getting in and out but no problem paddling.

Some surgeons may express
strong skepticism without, themselves, having data to back it up. I knew downriver racers who had similar fusions and were able to resume paddling, but I’ll bet their surgeons did not promise such an outcome.

It is totally appropriate to ask here, albeit maybe worded a little different: “Hey anyone here have any experience returning to kayaking after having a lower back spinal fusion?”


– Last Updated: May-30-15 1:32 PM EST –

A lot of surgens might tell you no because they don't want you back for a redo. Negative feedback by patients after surgery looks bad on them.

I had a fusion and a redo. Just got back 15 minutes ago from back packing on the AT.
Tomorrow I pick up the racks for our subaru so we can haul our kayaks. Next week we plan on doing a lot of paddling.

I backpack year round and kayaking seems to be better on my back. I'm not the kind of person to sit home on the couch. So if I do injure it again, I hope he can fix it so I can get back out doing the things I love.

no problem
A late friend of mine was a paraplegic. He solo canoed thru canada to the arctic ocean 3-different times. Got got this!


– Last Updated: May-31-15 12:16 AM EST –

I used to paddle 2-3 times a week just flat water and sometimes a bay or two to play in the waves some. Just trying to see if anymore else been able to paddle after a lumbar fusion and if they had any suggestions on doing it after surgery. I have a dagger axis 12. I love being on the water and paddling as much as I can. I start PT this week and my therapist knows I paddle and will help me get back to it. I have a Aquabound Sting Ray Hybrid carbon fiber Paddle 230cm would a different one be better? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated

I’ll tell you of my experiences
for what it’s worth. I had a fusion of the cervical spine, c-4, c-5, & c-6. I’m a canoeist and kneel so was able to return easily after 3 months in traction and about 5 months of rehab. In terms of kayaking, I could not sit on my butt with my legs out in front for several years without some nasty feedback from my spine. That said, every situation is different and every rate of recovery different. The bad news is, I think you are just going to have to wait and see. The good news is, 14 years later, I’m still paddling like crazy. I wish you god-speed and luck.