3 years ago, I had this back pain, which hurt like hell whenever I bent over or sat down. I was a teenager back then (and still am) so I knew something was wrong. I went to a doctor and he took x-rays.
I was diagnosed with spondylolisthesis l1 s5. Essentially, it is a condition in which one vertebra moves forward in relation to the one below it. And the vertebra was in my lower back. It wasn't too serious, however, and it's damage could be limited. In addition, the condition is sometimes genetic so it most likely was not from an injury.
Only x-rays? That sounds a bit strange but anyway. Spondylolisthesis is not genetic although recent research i haven't seen might prove me wrong. it can be congenital but rare. it is more apparent as you age and in the youing it is usually due to excessive loading of the spine via sport or other activity. Spondylolisthesis is an end product of failure of specific posterior elements of the vertebrae (neural arch and facets). The cause of this failure is normally anterior/posterior shear loading or cyclic full spine flexion and extension. From your comments I would say you have a Grade 1 maybe 2?? I would say it is likely that it was an injury. The diagnosis of this inkury normally comes after investigating something else so the exact incident is not like other injuries and comes apparent over time.[/quote]
But, the doctor said I can no longer do squats. Ever.
Well generally no but it depends on the grade of injury and how you perform squats. Any amount of flexion about the superior vertebrae, in your case L5 will dramatically increase shear forces and compromise the ability for the extensors to compensate. So there is risk. Also loading across the shoulders would be better substituted with holding at lumbar level.
I haven't done squats in nearly 3 years and I miss them dearly. I've resorted to doing leg presses but they clearly aren't the same. I've been doing ab excercises to prevent an over extension of my back, but I haven't really done any lower back specific excercises. My plan in the next few weeks is to find a gym with a reverse hyperextension machine and do lots of those.
I would lose the leg presses especially if they are using a vertical sled, these can cause a flexion of the spine due to pelvic rotation and besides that they are really an irrelevant motor pattern if you are seeking back health. If you continue with a more horizontal leg press then use one leg at a time to minimise pelvic rotation/lumbar flexion. Please DO NOT perform hyperextensions especially on a weighted machine they will not assist with your rehab and in fact may cause problems of a disc nature. It is rare for someone with your condition to get a benefit from exercise that travels through the ROM. The prescription for your type of injury should be stability with care to exercise the extensors (longissimus, iliocostalis and multifidus ) whilst in a neutral lumbar position. Research also suggests that you should train the thoracic extensors (longissimus thoracis pars thoracis, iliocostalis lumborum pars thoracis) as they are the most efficient lumbar extensors due to their large moment arm. As with my other posts concentrate on endurance not strength, learn to brace correctly and avoid full flexion/extension ROM exercises. You are right, play it safe unfortunately athletic training principles are not recommended in your case.