Eddie and Jon started training together with me in July of 2014. Eddie was 24 years old when we started working together, and 5 years prior had suffered a severe back injury during a heavily weighted squat. His life changed as he had to give up many of the things he loved to do, including competitive golf and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. My goal was to help Eddie restore proper movement patterns, so that he could get back to doing what he loved to do pain-free.
Jon, his father, had suffered from chronic low back pain for decades. He is an avid exerciser and enjoys regular biking, stretching and weight-lifting routines. Jon is the poster child for sticking to a regular exercise workout routine-when I met him he was very consistent at doing his own workout 5-6 days per week. He suffered from chronic low back pain, and several times per year would experience more intense, debilitating 2+ weeks episodes of pain. My goal for Jon was to stabilize his spine and strengthen the muscular around it with integrated exercises, as well as revamp his daily program to include exercises that would build him up, rather than break him down.
Based on my assessments of their postural and movements patterns, I introduced them to the Foundation Training exercises. These are highly effective, body weight exercises that strengthen the posterior chain and deep core muscles. Understanding the cues and properly positioning the body is key to an effective training program, and as a trainer, I am constantly coaching them into the correct form. I direct them to “pull their ribs down” when they’re arching through their midback, or to pull their hips back further when they could deepen a hinge. I template custom workouts that progress them at an appropriate and safe rate, so that they continue to be challenged and build on the strength they’re building. I’m there during each and every session to give them immediate feedback about how they could be doing the exercises more effectively, and I give them specific exercises and posture practices to do on their own. All of this helps them reach their goals faster and reduces their risk of injury from training.
Since then we have progressed beyond just the Foundation Training exercises. I introduced resistance, balance and weighted exercises to their training program. We are doing TRX planks, pull-ups, weighted hinges and rows, single leg RDLs, and farmer carries with kettlebells. Jon rarely suffers from back pain. If he does experience any discomfort it is minimal, and subsides after a couple days of rest, and no longer interferes with his day-to-day life! Eddie is back to the golf range, and has improved his drive by over 50 yards. He has a very active job tending to the golf course, and even after a long day of shoveling sand traps or leaf blowing, his back holds up! Even when little aches and pains do recur, Eddie and Jon are now both well equipped with stretches and exercises for self-care that they can do on their own.
Read Eddie’s personal story here:
Progress not perfection. This is one of the most important posts I will ever publish with the hopes that anyone who has suffered a back injury (or would like to take initiative in strengthening their core muscles to prevent injury) may browse by this post and just consider the treatment that has been the only program that has given me hope of not living in constant pain. Every. Damn. Day. On May 9, 2009 I suffered a severe disk injury while in the peak of my athletic pursuits, that injury single handily changed every aspect of my life in an instant. I had to give up what I loved and lived to do: competitive golf and training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The excruciating nerve pain from the top of my right sciatic nerve, shooting down to the bottom of my heel was so intense that there was nothing I could do to take my mind off it. Fast forward: 3 spinal epidurals, multiple surgeon visits, prolotherapy, physical therapy, acupuncture, spinal decompression therapy…. You get the idea, every option out there besides surgery (because that is always permanent and should be the last option after all else has failed.) So, nothing had helped me. Also, with chronic pain also comes a beautiful thing called depression, for me it was the fact that I felt trapped within my own body and that was terrifying. I could still put a smile on my face at the end of the day, but deep down I am the only one who knew the pain that was waiting to fire off to remind me how injured I truly am. I don’t want anyone to think this is a sob story or pity party, just giving perspective of how I had lost all hope I would ever live a day and not be in pain and have now regained that hope I lost. So now on to the purpose of this post. 6 months ago I was introduced to a program called Foundation Training. It has a strong yoga influence but is much more cardio intense. It strengthens your posterior back and core muscles which is essential for rehabbing spinal injuries. (I couldn’t even do a sit up for 5 and a half years to get out of bed, I’d just roll on to my side and push myself up with one hand) to wrap this novel up. They may not look like much, but the first image you see is typical of athletes posture in the standard “Founders pose”, to be hyperextended. But that means that all of your muscles are not working in unison as they should which makes you vulnerable to injury. The middle and last photos are current pictures and show the night and day difference of my posture and how my muscles are learning to work in unison. While strengthening in ways I didn’t think we’re possible. For the first time in almost 6 years I am now pain free, can swing club without being in pain (and can do a sit up to get out of bed!) but more importantly, have regained that sense of hope that I will be able to live a normal life one day. And for all of this, I give all of my love and appreciation to my foundation trainer Beth Alexnader anyone who may be able to relate to this, or just wants an insane workout (dont be fooled by her cute cheerful demeanor, shell make your muscles cry that you didnt even know existed) but it will change your life. It has absolutely changed mine, so from the bottom of my heart, Beth…thank you
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