Being a trainer with serious back issues
Hello everyone – Just went to my back orthopedic surgeon and was told my 51 year old back is a mess. (I went for my sore foot and they wanted to address the lumbar spine so needless to say – I was very shocked to find out my back is horrible shape). I do have minimum back pain from an accident 5 years ago and scoliosis (also I just found out).
My question – Is there anyone else out there with a serious back issue who is still teaching Group exercise classes/Zumba and Personal Training? I don’t want to stop what I’m doing (and was told to go easy on jumping and heavy lifting) but I also do not want to make things worse. NOTE: I have a several 4mm and under bulging dics and a 6mm bulging disc on L5/S1 – along with spinal stenosis up and down my spine. My L1/2 is the worst – just about bone on bone.
Just looking for a fellow trainer with similar issues. Thanks! Patty
I can only imagine how scared you are. Going to the doctor because your foot hurts and walking out in the belief that your lower back is only one step away from a major disaster.
Considering what you have been doing up to this point and that you are without symptoms, you should ask a lot of questions of different medical providers. Get second opinions and third opinions if necessary. Listen also to your own inner voice. You know your body better than anybody else.
My own bit of history: in 1999, I was told that I would have to wear a functional brace for the rest of my life after an ankle injury. That same year, I walked a marathon (without the brace), and my foot has been just fine ever since. I know it's not the same as your back but I am sure glad I decided not to believe what I was told.
Wishing you all the best.
Time to go back to thinking about my clients and no so much about myself“ !!
Either way, my understanding is that some herniations and bulging discs might be asymptomatic. I would advise you to stop doing (or at least modify) whatever it is that is hurting you, especially your foot, or that might start to hurt in the future. Don't work through it like I did. I ignored some of the signs my body was giving me and ended up not being able to bend or sit down for 2 weeks. Now THAT was really hard on my training job. It got better, but I know now to lay off any time I get a bad twinge.
BTW, I do some pretty serious kettlebell and TRX stuff, so a disc issue is not a death sentence. You just need to have proper biomechanics and a good mind/body awareness.
Good luck, and glad you're feeling pretty good!
Do I still teach? You betcha! Boot Camps (with plenty of plyos and HIITs), Cycling and more, but I do have to be more careful of course and I have made my Core a fortress. After I recovered from the first surgery in '03, I got certified by STOTT Pilates which was a blessing.
I don't run of course, or do things which strain the neck (because that's where my surgery was) like road cycling, boxing (where someone is punching back!), or rock climbing for example.
But it has made me a much better trainer for my clients who do suffer from back pain as I have done much to educate myself and worked with my physical therapist at length to learn the best exercises and stretches for this disease.
Understanding where your pain is coming from and what is causing it is key. You MUST keep the area strong and know when you can and should push your strength limits. Allowing the muscles to weaken will only make it worse!
Stay active my friend!
They said – go to Physical Therapy (I also teach yoga). If that doesn’t work – get epidural injections – and then surgery if nothing works. This is crazy – I feel fine and have no “real pain” or physical limitations.
I wish you the best, and continued success in your career. Good luck!
I am curious to know whether you saw the diagnostic x-rays and MRI? If you haven't please request to see them.
However, on another note, I'd like to share something with you that is helpful to me when I find myself facing challenges where it appears that I am between a rock and a hard place...
It might seem off the beaten track, however, have you ever considered hiring a life coach? I ask this because at times when it appears there is no way out it might benefit us to speak with someone who can assist us in seeing the possibilities or the silver lining in the situation we deem to be challenging.
To encourage you, I'd like to share something that the 20th century psychiatrist Carl Jung described in order to encourage his patients to acknowledge their strengths and imagine possibilities in order to outgrow their problems. He said:
"The greatest and most important problems of life are all in a certain sense insoluble. They can never be solved, but only outgrown. This outgrowing as I formerly called it, on further experience, was seen to consist in a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest arose on the person's horizon and through this widening of view the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically in its own terms, but faded out when confronted with a new and strong life-tendency."
I encourage you, with the assistance of a life coach to to widen your view and find your new and strong life-tendency. I believe with all my heart there are great things awaiting you!
I applaud your enthusiasm; keep up the great spirit. You know your body better than anyone else; so, go with your gut feeling; that is what I do for my feet.
I find that not all doctors understand the difference between physical therapists and personal trainers and prefer to give me the option of pain medicine, which I deny.
Your training background will help you decide when to take it easy.
As a trainer, I do not need to do the workout with the class, as it is their workout, not mine. I only need to instruct; therefore, I take advantage of walking around the class to check on the clients.
This is what helps me when my feet are acting up. I do not have a back condition... that I know of; but, I need to be careful of my aging body, knowing there are back problems in the family.
Take care and thanks for sharing your courageous and inspiring story.
Medicine is both a science and an art. There is so much we are still learning about the capabilities of the human body. What may cause one person pain and discomfort, may not to some one else. Everyone's body aligns and performs differently.
And just as there is a wide spectrum of personal trainers, the same can be said of doctors. See someone else. Tell them what you were told, tell them how you currently feel, and ask lots of questions till you get answers that mesh with what your body is telling you.
I tell my liens that they are the only ones who know their body best. If this diagnosis doesn't sound or feel right to you, go looking for one that does!
I have an injury from about 8 years ago and I am now 33. I have two herniated disks at level L4/L5 and L5/S1. I also have a bulging disk at T12. I have been a trainer for 13 years but do have to watch what I am doing. Please listen to your doctor and what they say. I started out with really bad pain and now it is gone but I have to keep my back and core strong.
You want to be careful with degeneration of the disks as you can get pain later on. Your back may also tell you if you have done to much. I will get warning signs. I just wanted to chime in because when/if you do get pain it is very painful. I used to do alot more high impact exercise but had to stop. I can do high impact classes a couple times a week. For me, possibly getting pain again in the future isn't worth it. Along with pain you may also get strength loss, bad pain when you cough or laugh, numbness and tingling, not being able o sit, stand, or sleep etc ect. Try to keep yourself pain free for as long as you can. If you get pain it could take up to a year or more to go away. It took me about a year and two months. There are alot of people who are pain free in the beginning. Just be careful.
I have had numerous back, neck and head injuries starting with a fall down a flight of stairs as a toddler and the last injury was in a spill on while mountain biking. I have mostly good days, but do occasionally over extend myself and have to deal with the repercussions. But back injury and maintenance is an ongoing progression. I have learned so much about being more mindful and more judicious when it comes to my activities.
Most people do adjust and improve, but moving is very important. I spend very little time sitting and have learned to adjust my sleeping position according to where I feel the most out of whack at any one time. I use and design treadmill desks, which I find to be fantastic for everyone as well as for those of us with back issues (which is a very large population). I would be happy to give you advice if you are still in need of assistance. Contact me through my profile if you are interested.