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Losing athletic ability after years of back pain

Started by MicahEverett on 06/29/2017 5:24pm

Hey guys,

Just wondering if anyone else used to be a fairly decent athlete and suffered a career altering back injury? I used to be a good basketball player until I was diagnosed with "potential" scoliosis in 8th grade. That summer I visited a beach in hawaii and injured my back trying to skim board into a wave. It basically bent me in half and sent me into like a scorpion's posture. If you don't understand what I mean lol, just google what a scorpion looks like when it is about to attack....My game never developed any more as my mobility and athleticism declined as years passed. 10th grade I was diagnosed with the typical L5-SI herniation. Went to college and was lucky enough to make a track and cross country team as a walk-on (with the bad disc), but ended up re-injuring the disc to where it was herniated 14 millimeters. The rest of my lumbar spine was diagnosed with "degenerative disc disease" my freshman year of college and now I am on disability because of the physical ailments. Also have really weak ankles that roll super easy on my more painful (right) side of my back.

My mental health has declined as years passed by because sports were always my outlet to life's problems and they were the best way for me to make friends and feel like I belonged to a group of people. I try to exercise each day because I see my body from being a college track athlete slowly fading each month but it seems to just re aggravate the back. I also suffer from really bad fatigue, making the attempt at exercise more agonizing because I run out of energy 5 minutes into a brisk walk or basketball session. I don't mean to vent, or sound like a selfish cry baby here, but I don't have any friends or people who truly seem to understand and empathize with me about my injury. My family members, uncle and mom have the same injury as I do, but they were not as "top notch" athletes as I was, and their passions weren't as deep as mine were in sports. And they injured their back later on in life and are more sedentary than I am, so their back doesn't seem to affect their mental health as bad as mine. I really wish I had like a group of friends who could sit and vent with me about how depressing it is to suffer this stupid injury at such a young age lol. I wish it would have happened in my late 20's early 30's. But I also have hope that I will recover soon considering my body is still younger and has the ability to recover.

I don't really know how to exercise or build muscle, or get my body in shape with this exercise because lifting weights is always a given. I can do pull ups and push ups just fine, but I don't know if that's enough for me. Anyone have any tips, suggestions or like a workout routine for someone with a bad back who wants to get their body back into shape? Thanks for reading, if you read this far. Again, I apologize for seeming like a self centered cry baby demanding attention.

Much Love,

Micah :)

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2 Responses


Hi, Micah--thank you for taking the time to post in our Community! You are not a cry baby at all. Back pain is a big deal, and it can take a real hit on your quality of life. Your pain is a real thing!

Your questions about exercise with back pain are common ones--a lot of people are going through the same thing as you. Contrary to popular belief, you can (and should!) exercise with back pain. You just may need to readjust your definition of exercise.

For example, if high-impact exercises that put a ton of stress on your body is your idea of exercise, you may need to be open to some activities you wouldn't have considered before injuring yourself. Exercises like yoga, pilates, and swimming are great for your spine. While these exercises aren't high impact, they are great at toning muscles.

We'd like to share some resources with you ( Exercise Center ). This link will connect you to all of our exercise content and hopefully give you ideas on how you can safely get active again. Perhaps getting moving again will help improve your total health--mental, emotional, and physical. A good idea is to run any new activities by your doctor--he or she will give you the go ahead to get started.

We hope this information is helpful--and we wish you the very best of luck!


Hi Micah,
I have read your story it is almost similar to mine. I am currently waiting to have my spine fused at L5-S1 since I have a colpased disc , I had two previous surgeries at the same level.
But I totally understad you as to your mental health
And I am two very concerned after surgery about going back to my sport activities such as calisthenics and swimming.
Due to my condition I started researching for alternatives to excercise without weight and found calisthenics there is a lot there to learn to train with your own bodyweight and there is plenty of workouts there to help you with you back and your core. At least that is what has worked for me and swimming.
But I also want to share with you I found this program is called move U I have been following it and it also helps very much to work the core, back areas and posture.
I guess this can help you out check it out here is the link.