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Old 06-01-2010, 11:49 AM   #1
aikicurious
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Question Back injury and starting aikido?

Hello all,

My partner and I are looking into ways of exercising and getting healthy and both of us have always had an interest in aikido. However, my partner has a back injury for which he will need to get surgery some time in the future.

We wanted to hear from people who study aikido whether we should still look into taking aikido classes despite his back injury (considering the need to learn how to fall)? Also, are there schools of aikido which are more flexible for people with disabilities?

Thanks in advance for any help, information, or advice,

Elske
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Old 06-01-2010, 12:01 PM   #2
Michael Hackett
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

Wow, tough question with no good answer. Most dojo will work with a student who suffers a limitation and there are many with back problems who practice Aikido. Each individual is unique and this situation requires a conversation with the physician treating the person and the instructors at the dojo. The nature and severity of the condition which requires surgery is the critical issue and no one on the internet can give you the advice you seek. Good luck with your search and with your partner's injury and recovery!

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 06-01-2010, 12:03 PM   #3
ninjaqutie
 
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

Ditto with what was said above. If he is given an okay by his Dr. to train, then the next step is to find a dojo/instructor that you like that is willing to accomodate and take injuries into consideration. It seems that most aikido dojo's are willing to work with those who have injuries. Some people find their injuries slowly get better with aikido practice (though I wouldn't reccomend aikido as a treatment!) Best of luck!

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
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Old 06-01-2010, 12:13 PM   #4
aikicurious
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

Thank you to the two of you -- unfortunately that means we have to wait. The family doctor is unwilling to discuss any of this, and the surgeon has delayed the intial appointment several months for the third time now. We had hoped to do aikido as a way for him to strengthen his body before surgery, but perhaps we should remain with walking and stretching.

Does anyone have any information about the Ki classes offered by the Ki Society -- what are they like?
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Old 06-01-2010, 12:17 PM   #5
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

I think there are a few on here who belong to Ki Socities, but I couldn't tell you names. If you are wanting to start aikido and don't want to wait, perhaps you can go watch a class, talk to the instructor and let him know that you are interested and let him know your problem. He may be able to accomodate you or he may tell you to wait. Either way, at least you are on the search for an instructor and a dojo and that gets you moving in the right direction.

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
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Old 06-01-2010, 12:59 PM   #6
Michael Hackett
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

Ashley may have be on to something here. Assuming that you don't want to wait the several months until a medical consultation, perhaps your partner can start Aikido with an instructor who will be willing to take his condition on. It is possible to start training, IMHO, without having to take falls or stress a weak point by throwing. Just doing the warm-ups and aiki-taiso exercises are part of the art and may be doable by your partner in the meantime. Not nearly as fun as the rough and tumble of a full class, but critically important to development in the art. My bottom line is listen to your body and exercise great caution on the mat until the medical situation is resolved. Did I mention caution? Patience is part of the training too.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 06-01-2010, 01:22 PM   #7
dps
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

I agree with Michael and Ashley, attend and just do what you can.

Along with your family doctor and surgeon, I would also consult a doctor that specializes in sports medicine before doing any practicing.

Having my share of medical problems with my back, neck, shoulder and knees, I have always used some form of Aikido practice as an extension of physical therapy.

David
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Old 06-01-2010, 02:09 PM   #8
aikicurious
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

Definitely good advice everybody.

I think we should go to the Ki Society this weekend and speak to them about the classes, and find out what they suggest. I'm sure they've encountered situations like this before. Besides, that way we can see what the atmosphere is like and whether we'd feel comfortable there. Thank you all!

If any Ki Society members just happen by this thread in the meantime, I'm still interested in hearing more about the Ki classes.
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Old 06-01-2010, 05:32 PM   #9
aikidoc
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

I would get a doctor's opinion. Depending on the seriousness of your back problem, you could end up in worse shape. Especially with going to the ground. I have had a few try it with bad backs and they usually had to give it up due to going to the ground. If you have a herniated disc, it could make it worse up to and including permanent nerve injury and sequestration of the disc leading to cauda equina syndrome. Get clearance.
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Old 06-01-2010, 05:42 PM   #10
Larry Feldman
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

Check with a Doc first (but they will be risk adverse - no gain to them if you practice).

Find a school that does NOT do breakfalls, only rolls.

A Ki Society dojo would be a good option, check the web for their locations.

If your back can't handle it, try Tai Chi - the flexability may help your back.
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Old 06-01-2010, 05:58 PM   #11
Larry Feldman
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

Calgary Ki Society
James Angevine
#133, 5723 - 10th Street NE
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2E 8W7
Tel: (403) 230-8805
info@calgarykisociety.com
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Old 06-01-2010, 07:12 PM   #12
lbb
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

I'd observe a typical class first, then get a doctor's opinion. Story time here -- I had cataract surgery in one eye several years back. The surgery went well, and the next day when I went for my followup, the doctor told me that I could resume "all your normal physical activity."

My first thought was, "Yay! I can take class tomorrow!"

My second thought was, "Wait, when this guy says 'all your normal physical activities', does he have any idea what we do in aikido?"

So I described some typical activities to him and watched the horrified look cross his face. Turns out that in order to do that kind of "normal physical activity", I would have to wait a few more weeks

So, at the risk of hearing an answer that you don't want to hear, go and watch a class. Talk to the sensei and ask if you and your partner can participate on a "what I can do" basis; then, before you start training, go back to your doctor and describe the activities in detail. It's often very hard to get a GP to give you any but the most conservative advice, and because of that tendency, it can be really tempting to ditch their advice altogether. Sometimes that's what you have to do. But do try your very best to get qualified medical advice before you attempt activity -- and when you do, accept the answer that you get. And have patience -- that's very easy to say to an injured person, I know, but it really is the only way.

Best of luck,
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Old 06-01-2010, 08:19 PM   #13
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

I have a slipped disc in my back. I'm not sure what kind of back problem your partner has, but my disc problem isn't aggravated by my Aikido. However, by the sounds of it the problem your partner has is more serious than mine. Definitely watch a class then describe it to a doctor.

MM
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Old 06-02-2010, 12:16 AM   #14
Walter Martindale
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

All depends on the nature of your back injury. I'd suggest either the Canadian Back Institute or "National Spine Centre" - the NSC on 14th street NW in Calgary specialises in basket-case backs. They do surgery as a last resort, even though the place is owned and operated by surgeons. I'd suggest a good friend of mine who has been a physio at both of the above clinics, but he's on his way to a job in Victoria BC.

(of course, you don't say where in Alberta you live - Edmonton has a CBI, too)

My back has been a mess at various times since 1969. I've practiced judo from 1972-1980, competitive rowing from 1980 - 1983, and aikido from 1993 to the present. The physios I've seen have said that my back improved greatly after I started Aikido, BUT My back injury is not your partner's back injury, and you need to stretch, strengthen, and make sure your back is going to take even the warm-ups before getting thrown around... If your partner's discs have bulged, it may just be a matter of waiting, but CBI and NSC have both sent people back to work without surgery, but after a LONG period of rehabilitative exercise...
HTH.

One piece of advice, though - Stuart McGill www.backfitpro.com

Walter
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Old 06-02-2010, 12:26 AM   #15
Abasan
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

This particular problem has been asked several times here... but I suppose its pretty common to be afraid when you see falling is 50% of aikido practice.

I started with the same fear because of a back injury sustained as a teen. But I bit the bullet and started training aikido in university. Its an offshoot of ki aikido.

So frankly speaking, it did wonders for my back. (spinal protusion of the lower back). Less pain, and better movement helped. The warm ups I feel we need to learn better ways from pilates or physiotherapists. The ones we did which were general aikido warm ups were probably archaic in nature.

However the best part of ki aikido is the aiki taiso. This helps your body and mind unity. The extending and moving from center and relaxing will be the best thing you do for your body. Strengthens your body without losing flexibility and feeling a complete body movement instead of isolating muscles or parts (which inevitably leads to injury).

Furthermore, as beginners, the more cooperative nature of ki aikido helps gives you a basic foundation that does not stress your body or mind. Forget about arguments on martial efficacy for now. It'll take a longer time for you to achieve that with ki aikido (at least how the others will view it), but on the whole, your return on investment will be higher. (health and mind development).

As your body becomes more intune with itself and skill in ukemi improves, you can explore other perspectives in training.

For me, this would be the best style of training for your friend.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 06-02-2010, 01:38 AM   #16
Walter Martindale
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

Quote:
Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
All depends on the nature of your back injury. I'd suggest either the Canadian Back Institute or "National Spine Centre" - the NSC on 14th street NW in Calgary specialises in basket-case backs. They do surgery as a last resort, even though the place is owned and operated by surgeons. I'd suggest a good friend of mine who has been a physio at both of the above clinics, but he's on his way to a job in Victoria BC.

(of course, you don't say where in Alberta you live - Edmonton has a CBI, too)

My back has been a mess at various times since 1969. I've practiced judo from 1972-1980, competitive rowing from 1980 - 1983, and aikido from 1993 to the present. The physios I've seen have said that my back improved greatly after I started Aikido, BUT My back injury is not your partner's back injury, and you need to stretch, strengthen, and make sure your back is going to take even the warm-ups before getting thrown around... If your partner's discs have bulged, it may just be a matter of waiting, but CBI and NSC have both sent people back to work without surgery, but after a LONG period of rehabilitative exercise...
HTH.

One piece of advice, though - Stuart McGill www.backfitpro.com

Walter
d'oh,
Forgot to mention, McGill (above) recommends brisk walking as one of the best rehabilitation exercises for a lower back injury.
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Old 06-02-2010, 04:28 AM   #17
fisher6000
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

Tai Chi is a great alternative.

The thing to keep in mind is that aikido is a paired exercise, so there's a certain amount of (usually positive) pressure to keep up with your partner. I wouldn't train with a back problem (and work not to train when I am injured generally) because I am a fairly competitive person. It's hard for me not to get lost in working to match my partner's competence, speed, power, ability, whatever.

This is of course something that I am working on, but it's a long row to hoe. I don't trust myself to privilege my own body over the experience of training when I know I have an injury.
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Old 06-02-2010, 05:41 AM   #18
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

Talk to your Doctor.
Talk to the Sensei.
Go slowly.
Many of us train regularly with back problems.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 06-02-2010, 01:35 PM   #19
RED
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
Talk to your Doctor.
\
Many of us train regularly with back problems.
TRUE DAT!!

MM
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Old 06-02-2010, 06:32 PM   #20
fisher6000
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

Not saying nobody should, just saying that I shouldn't, and why.
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Old 06-22-2010, 06:57 AM   #21
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

I have seen this movie before! I had a traumatic back injury years ago in the Service. I had always been very physical, and into martial arts of any type. I train regularly and would do more if I could (family obligations). I am not limited by my back injury, but I must always consider it.

This is a fact - Everyone is different. Your partners back injury is his, and all the advice you get here has to be filtered through that fact.

With me, I know the more active I stay, the less problems I have with my back. I can break-fall, and train hard - but that is me. In fact I think rolling is one of the best things I can do for my back.

I would say - observe a class, go slow, and monitor the situation.

As for Doctors - I have had a few! Read the research. Many are saying that surgery is often unnecessary. I would focus of PT and find a good Chiropractor. Any professional I would see would have to be "sports" oriented. A doctor will tell you that falling, rolling and extreme physical activity is risky.

Two short stories: A friends wife took Aikido and was diagnosed with scoliosis - the doc said quit - she did. I have not see either of them in years. Another had a broken back. Doc said "no way." He slowed down, paced himself and is a shodan in Aikido now. Both true stories - like I said, "everyone is different."

My $.02 -

Train hard!
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Old 06-22-2010, 08:00 AM   #22
Abasan
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

Actually to be frank... chiropractor might not be as good for you as a good pilates instructor. With the latter, you're actively helping yourself 24/7.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 06-24-2010, 07:27 AM   #23
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Re: Back injury and starting aikido?

Good point. I am not a plates kind of guy, but I do believe that any exercise that strengthes the core and especially the back will be needed. Chiropractic care would be a supplement to self help. Today, I try to keep bent over rows and dead lifts the mainstay in my workouts. Time - take your time and go slow.
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