View Full Version : aikido and back health

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Big Dave
08-27-2005, 08:15 PM
I was recently diagnosed (Friday) with one herniated disk and several bulging disks due to years of bad posture. The herniated disk seems to be responding to treatment ( traction and anti-inflammatories) and my doc has ok'd a return to aikido as soon as I feel up to it. My question is this, do you think that Aikido in general would be good for me or is it too risky? My inclination is to return as soon as possible, maybe taking it easy for alittle while...and that overall aikido would be very helpful in helping me to improve my posture and improve the health of my back. Both my doctor and my chiroproctor do not seem overally concerned. Has anyone had any experience/advice regarding this?

08-27-2005, 10:09 PM
I'm taking a class at my local college that has exercises that corrects posture, improvement of core function, prevention injury, pain management and successful aging. Our textbook is actually a book that you can but at Amazon.com for about $10, it's called The Egoscue Method of Health Through Motion (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0060924306/qid=1125201193/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/103-0744397-1863853?v=glance&s=books) by Pete Egoscue (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/index=books&rank=relevancerank&field-author-exact=Pete%20Egoscue/103-0744397-1863853).

I had my chance to take my first class this week and I've "seen" my body in a different way now. Most people actually have posture problems but they don't realize, because we are in this day and age that we have limited our range of motion. The instructor mentioned that we not doing what the human species is designed for... to be the "hunter-gatherer" she points out that if you look at old photos of many tribesmen in national geographic/discovery channel you don't see too many old people to have postural problems because they are doing what the body is designed to do.

Anyway try the book metioned above, it's $10 and his other books 4 1/2 - 5 star rating... One of the reviewers of his other book Pain Free (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0553379887/qid=1125201242/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/103-0744397-1863853?v=glance&s=books) has a herniated disks too.

Check out their website at Egoscue.com (http://www.egoscue.com/htdocs/index.asp)

I personally think that Aikido is good for the back because at least you have some kind of exercise. Also you when you say treatment... it's at least for the time being... I'm suggesting a correcting to the problem to also help a lot in the future... hopefully that helps

08-27-2005, 10:10 PM
Yup, I've got some experience with this. I herniated my L5-S1 disc about 4 years ago now. I still practice aikido, but with some changes. I can't do alot of tobu ukemi. I can't do any koshinage techniques. I have to avoid having more than one person hanging off me in ran-dori training (y'know, no jumping on my back in an effort to drag me down). Other than this, I practice aikido pretty much as I always have.

I think at this point if I were to cease aikido training I would be doing myself more harm than good. My physiotherapist and doctor agree. My doctor went so far as to tell me that the motion and flexibility derived from aikido training would be vital to my general mobility later in life. So, I'll keep training, I think. Besides, I would train anyway, even if doing so weren't the best thing for me to do.

08-28-2005, 02:07 AM
Both myself and my wife have back problems, me from a skating accident about 20 years ago, my wife following an epidural during childbirth. As a result, we both suffer back pain consistently. When my wife last put her back out, the osteopath recommended that she keep up Aikido practice, which she has. It definately helps keep her mobile and stronger. Myself, the days I practice Aikido are the only nights I sleep through soundly without waking due to back pain.



08-28-2005, 02:23 AM
i have had a slightly slouched back posture most of my life
and i find aikido helps me with my back posture im walking more straighter then ever before.
its all that seiza! lol i dont know it just helps me the whole posture and stance

08-28-2005, 05:55 AM
I my self have been plagued with back problems, a torn disk in the 4th lumbar. I did have a procedure called an I-det, witch I don't recommend, took 1 1/2 Years to get over that. I started yoga witch peaked my interest in mind over body techniques and that lead me to Aikido. I was very fit at the time of my injury, and now, well let's say I let things go, but things are looking up now that I'm active and training in the dojo. funny thing, my Sensei found Aikido about the same way, he hurt his back (how I don't know) and knew he didn't wont surgery and when at a college campus he "saw a Japanese man doing extraordinary thangs in ordinary ways" and met his first Sensei. Yes I thank Aikido is beneficial to someone with a back injury, so do slow at first and train hard.


Rupert Atkinson
08-28-2005, 07:26 AM
A back injury knocked me out of Judo in 1998 but I continued to train in Aikido, albeit carefully for a while. I have and X-Ray and MRI but they said I was fine - but the pain told me otherwise. But, not doing exercise (Aikido) made it worse. Sometimes the Aikido made it worse - like the day after - but exercise generally made it feel a lot better. I have tried all sorts of exercises and have settled on a few that work for me (doesn't mean they'll work for you). Now, I am pretty OK for weeks on end until something riles it - then it hurts for a few days until the exercises I do make it go away.

On a different note, one of my best students hurt disk pretty badly (I was not there) with a bad breakfall (or rather, a bad throw) and he no loger trains.

Big Dave
08-28-2005, 06:01 PM
thanks everyone for your replies and sharing your experiences with this. It's encouraging to know that this can be overcome and that I may not have to give up aikido. aikido is very important to me and when this first happened my very first thought was , "god, please don't let this end my aikido." At the same time, spinal injuries are scary...Guess I'll just have to follow the doc's advice, take it easy for while and hope for the best.

08-28-2005, 11:52 PM
i started aikido because i wanted to fix my back problems (poor posture, weak muscles, etc.). it's worked out really really well for me in that regard.

it should probably be a common thing for a teacher to help correct a student's posture.

Ben F
08-29-2005, 07:22 PM
Hi everyone, first post

For the first couple of months after starting Aikido, I found my back felt really strange for a while, a sort of dull ache in my lower back. I was quite concerned.

But I think it was just an initial adjustment period. Aikido has really improved my posture (and general well being), and I generally complement this with swimming once a week.

08-30-2005, 03:15 AM
Heh, the second Ben from down-under with back problems.

I belong to the small group of people who suffer more since beginning Aikido...

I have had no real problems with my back up until I started Aikido several months ago. Since then I have had constant pain in the area roughly between my shoulder blades.

As far as I can tell, this is a result of excessive tension. I'm not big, but I'm muscular. Learning to work with uke's energy instead of muscle power is a hard, hard road. (My irimi nage looks terrible)Plus I hate being touched by other people (part of the reason why I practice Aikido) and tense up when someone grabs me.

Nevertheless it still hurts, three months later. It hurts more when I take a deep breath. It hurts when I do forward breakfalls.

With a bit of luck it will diminish as I grow more relaxed and start working more with uke and more with my hips.

Berney Fulcher
08-30-2005, 08:10 AM
Ben, I had the same problems with pain (and in fact pulled muscles) between my shoulder blades on my back. It got bad enough that i went to a sports physical therapist to check it out.

The therapist basically told me that the muscles there were pathetic and gave me exercises to strengthen them. I now find that when I do the exercises to keep the area in tone I have few problems with it. If I don't do the exercises it seems to come back.

08-30-2005, 01:04 PM
Interesting feedback, thx.

I'm off to the doctor in the next couple of weeks anyway. But generally I am happy to wait and see what my back does as my technique improves.

More important for me is training lower abdominal muscles rather than back muscles... and improving flexibility in my hips and upper torso. This will help keep my back from arching during shihonage as well as improving my posture even more...