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Thread: Back in Trouble . . . Again.

  1. #1

    Back in Trouble . . . Again.

    In February, I experienced symptoms from a compressed disc in my lower back after shoveling too heavy of a show bank in the back of my garage. Put me out of commission from my Choy Lay Fut practice for 3 months.

    After acupuncture and Western physical therapy for 6 weeks got back at it but am starting to experience symptoms again: sore lower back on right side and achy hips, when jumping and doing high impact calisthenics.

    Went to a new Eastern medicine doctor for acupuncture, message, electro-stimulus, ultra-sound and chiropractic adjustment. Suggested, "maybe at 52 its's time to quit martial arts and take up golf."

    As much as I'm hating to admit it, maybe he is right. He was impressed with my current flexibility, so suggested three "treatments." If my symptoms don't get better by then, "there is nothing he can do."

    Am I at the end of my martial arts practice? Can eastern medicine help? Is there another martial art I should switch to that doesn't have as much jumping/stress on the lower back? Wing Chun?

    At a crossroads . . . . any advice?

  2. #2
    Greetings Dragonmaster116,

    I notice that you did just about everything except to try to decompress your spine. People have found spinal benefit with inversion therapy. Also, you did not write anything about abdominal work geared toward supporting and stabilizing spine. There might be something to what your doctor is saying and it is that you may need to re educate your body to a new approach to movement that, in the long run, will be supportive of what you love to do. If you are able, see if you can get a hold of the INFLEX dvds put out by Adrian Crook. He offers a flexibility program that has been helping professional athletes take it to the next level.

    Stance work can also work with the spine, offering traction to the lower spine. Again, the abdominal muscles come into play.

    MAJOR EDIT: Since I do not know the extent of your situation, only consider the aforementioned. If it touches on something you are not doing, give it a whiff. I wish you the best and continued happiness with your practice.

    AND A QUESTION: What have you done previously to keep your back strong and healthy in that area?

    Last edited by mickey; 07-08-2018 at 07:22 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    CA, USA
    My older brother's only physical exercise (besides playing gigs as part of various local bands) is golf, and I can tell you that golf is no safer for the back than CLF. Several years ago, he had back surgery, and much of it had to do with the constant extreme torque during golf strokes, especially since they only twist in one direction. For an extreme example, golf certainly hasn't been kind to Tiger Woods' back. Golf comes with its own set of risks and injuries. I'm surprised that Eastern medicine practitioner didn't know this.

    As far as your CLF, my only suggestion is to lessen or remove some of the torque from whatever movements are causing the flare-ups. Also pay attention to which exercises exacerbate your back and hip, and consider discontinuing those, at least for now. If they're causing flare-ups, it's not going to get better by continuing with them and 'pushing through it'. An art like Wing Chun would certainly involve less risk of back stress, if that's what you really want to pursue. A good Taiji system might also help a bit. You could also try doing your CLF at reduced speed and softer power for awhile, and try VERY GRADUALLY increasing your speed again over an extended time. Some aspects of your training may need to be permanently altered or eliminated altogether. I've been there, done that. Just keep in mind that for now, your priority is getting better, and it requires discipline to keep one's ego and the desire to train as usual in check.

    There are ALWAYS people who will tell you it's time to give up practicing something you love. Fifty-two is not old. As long as you can find a way to train intelligently and SAFELY, even if it's at a temporarily reduced capacity, then YOU decide if and when it's time to give it up. Bruce Lee threw his back out doing a weight lifting exercise and was told by doctors his martial arts days were over. IIRC, he was out of action for like a year. That was BEFORE he hit it big.

    *Edit to add:
    Forum member hskwarrior had a huge fall and broke his back and, IIRC, was in a wheelchair. Through therapy and sheer determination, he eventually returned to training and teaching CLF. I'm not so comfortable sharing his experiences for him; maybe he will see this thread and chime in.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 07-09-2018 at 02:01 PM.

  4. #4
    Good topic. Does CLF have a complete life-course approach? Maybe itís possible to adapt the training to your condition without giving it up and switching styles. Maybe it's even expected and there are traditions around how to do it. I don't imaging CLF masters giving up their training or switching styles as they age, but maybe making it softer, less impact-oriented, and so on. Something new needs to grow there to replace what's being lost (that's how I see it anyway). What's being lost is athleticism and power, what's growing might be a kind of protective, sustainable training aiming to preserve mobility and even some kinetic bursts in emergencies well into old age. That could also be associated with the more introverted meditative side of TCMA, trying to grow samadhi stability and a wiser approach to everything. That said, if meaningful options are missing in CLF, or just in what's available where you're at, then maybe Taiji. I say this as a fellow 50+ facing some similar issues. Take care of your back and good luck navigating this.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Great Lakes State, U.S.A.
    Sorry to hear of your injury but it is really time to let that spinal cord heal. Stop your intensive CLF practice and continue your rehabilitation with a simple exercise: Lay down on a solid flat surface, wooden or carpeted floor, on your back. You can put your hands behind your head or not. Use your abdominal muscles to compress your lower spine to the floor without causing any pain. If you can't watch out for yourself at age 50+ you may not get to watch out for yourself at age 66. Your injury needs some time out.
    Last edited by PalmStriker; 07-10-2018 at 12:28 AM.

  6. #6

    Thank you all for the inpit

    . . . It is great to know there are other martial artists, especially of my age in my corner. I take into consideration all your suggestions!

    Thanks again!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Blog Entries
    If you need any advice about clf and having a bad back, none of these people here can help you. I fell 50 and broke my back in 3 places, shattering one vertebrae to powder. I live with the pain and fought back from being paralyzed from the waist down and i'm still practicing clf. If you have any questions in regards to dealing with a back problem and clf, come send me a private message and we can talk about it. I have first hand experience beyond what anyone here can offer you.
    I'm pretty sure the only thing tongs do nowadays is make sure Chinese restaurants don't pay out tips to their waiters. - Pazman[/B]

  8. #8

    Getting BACK on track

    Started doing my press ups and planks again, and laying back on the burpees and jumps in forms. Getting through this weeks classes with minimal pain.
    Just had an acupuncture, electro-stimulus, message and chiropractic adjustment from a new doctor, and feel great!!! Got a bunch of core/plank exercises I'm going to integrate in my weekly routine.
    Following all of your guy's advice.

    Road to recovery is in sight!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    North, strong and Free
    Have you looked at ways to strength your back with doing weights? not planks etc...

    I have read and heard of a number of folks helping their sore back from doing strength training.
    Quote Originally Posted by lkfmdc View Post
    point sparring is a great way to train

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Make your abs your new back muscles.

    Planking is not a bad idea. I would use body weight only for a while until you reach the plateau.

    But essentially, a buggered back can be aided by increasing abdominal strength.
    Kung Fu is good for you.

  11. #11


    Quote Originally Posted by Brule View Post
    Have you looked at ways to strength your back with doing weights? not planks etc...

    I have read and heard of a number of folks helping their sore back from doing strength training.
    Hmmmm . . . I have not. And would like to because frankly for the most part I hate planks. Do you have any suggestions?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    North, strong and Free
    deadlifting, squatting with good form. One of the articles I have found.

    There are more on the site if you cruise around a bit. Just saying, not that I have had any experience with back problems but I have noticed that strengthening your back muscles helps with everyday life activities.
    Quote Originally Posted by lkfmdc View Post
    point sparring is a great way to train

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