Songaila Begins Back Rehabilitation

By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Injured forward Darius Songaila went through his first day of rehabilitation exercise yesterday while the Washington Wizards practiced. Songaila, who underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk in his lower back on Nov. 2, said he will be limited to work on a stationary bike and treadmill as well as other low-impact conditioning until his back gains strength.

The Wizards originally said he might return 10 to 12 weeks after surgery, but neither the team nor Songaila has established a firm timetable.

Once Songaila is cleared to go through basketball drills, his availability for games will be determined by conditioning and his ability to blend with teammates he has yet to play with.

"I feel better now than I felt in week two [after the surgery] and I felt better in week two than I did in week one so that's a positive sign," said Songaila, who injured his back this summer while playing with the Lithuanian national team. "I don't have pain, so now it's a matter of strengthening my core and letting the disk heal."

Songaila has not been able to travel with the Wizards since the surgery, but he's been cleared to do so now and is looking forward to being around his teammates. "Just watching on TV, being a fan, is not fun," Songaila said. "I'm always rewinding back and forth, pausing the game, just overanalyzing everything."

Songaila also said he regrets trying to play through the pain after originally injuring his back during preliminary rounds before the FIBA World Championship. "If I had known that it was a ruptured disk, there is no way I would have played," Songaila said. "I didn't have any pain shooting down my legs at that time so I thought it was just back spasms."

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