Training Guru Details What Dwight Howard Faces in Long Return from Back Surgery

The Los Angeles Lakers knew Dwight Howard would still be recovering from back surgery long before they traded for him. What remains unknown is just how long it will take him to return and what happens after that.

Sports performance manager Mackie Shilstone didn't let Hurricane Isaac keep him from talking to Bleacher Report from his home in New Orleans. His insights shed some light on the ongoing recovery process Howard and the Lakers now face.

Howard had surgery back in April to repair a herniated disc in his back and remove bone fragments, correcting a condition that was causing him a great deal of pain. 

The subsequent recovery period kept Howard from seeing action in the playoffs, but it didn't keep him off the trade market.

Lakers fans will no doubt be chomping at the bit to see their new prize in action (and at full strength), but some patience is in order.

"The surgeon is the one who sets the criteria, and of course [Dr. Robert] Watkins–doing this for so many years–kind of wrote the book on this stuff," Shilstone said, "He's a brilliant surgeon. He's just not going to bring someone back who, first of all, is not meeting his criteria and timelines."

While Howard's timetable for return is out of his hands, he still has plenty of work to do in the meantime.

He began a core stabilization program a few weeks after the April 20 surgery, but that's only the beginning of what will be a long and ongoing road.

"You're going to go from a rehab program to a prehab program, and normally prehabilitation is done to prevent rehabilitation," Shilstone explained.

Keeping Howard's back pain-free will require a multifaceted approach that includes aerobic exercises, hamstring flexibility and keeping his weight down. It's not merely a matter of abdominal strength.

It's a matter of staying in the best possible shape, somethi...

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