Coming back from an injury

I would like to share an inspiring story with you today, the story of my client George. Too often, people suffer injuries and never fully recover. This can usually be avoided, if proper rehabilitative therapies and exercises are used.

About six months ago, George fell down a staircase and fractured four vertebrae. Today, he is back to completely normal functioning. While I sincerely hope that you are not suffering from any debilitating injuries, I hope George’s story brings you hope if you are.

George has been a personal-training client of mine for almost two years. One morning in October, I received a call from his wife informing me that he had suffered a serious fall and would not be able to come to the studio that morning. She gave me a brief description of his injuries and they sounded fairly serious: broken ribs, fractured vertebrae, possible concussion and other injuries you would expect from falling down a flight of stairs. I called George a few days later to wish him well and see how he was feeling. To my surprise, he sounded good and wanted to get back to working out in a few weeks. This seemed like it would be too soon to me, but I told him that I would give him a call and see how things were going.

As I suspected, George’s injuries were more serious than he realized. He was on bed rest for a few weeks and then confined to a body brace for a few more. Once he was out of the brace, he continued to suffer from extreme back pain when he walked more than a block. For George this was the worst: He is an avid walker and likes to walk to the market, theater or just about anywhere he needs to go.

I happened to give George a call on the same day that his orthopedist cleared him to begin physical therapy and light exercise. George started coming back to the studio the first week of January, and we started him on very-low-impact exercises that focused on strengthening the supporting muscles of the back, as these muscles help protect the spine and prevent further injury.

During his rehabilitation, we always stayed within safe limits, though George trained fairly aggressively. He continued to progress well and his strength increased quickly. The key to his exercise program was choosing exercises that engaged the muscles of the core and avoiding pain at all times. Within about a month, we had increased the amount of time he could walk before his back pain would cause him to stop. Steadily, we continued to see great results.

Everything culminated a few weeks ago. George went in for his final doctor’s appointment and literally knocked his orthopedist down during the strength test. To say that his doctor was surprised is an understatement. Today, less than six months after his fall, George suffers almost no back pain and is stronger than when he hurt himself.

I wanted to share this story for two reasons. The first is that I am simply very proud of George and all that he has accomplished. The second is to give hope anyone with an injury. If you are suffering from a lingering injury, do not give up. Too many people hurt themselves and do not follow an exercise program that will help restore functioning. Be careful not to fall into this trap. While exercise may not be your favorite thing to do, being debilitated for the rest of your life is much worse. Learn from George’s example: He followed his doctor’s advice, engaged in a supervised exercise program and, in less than six months, he is stronger than he was before.

Jared Carter, CSCS, is the owner of Move Forward Fitness Personal Training Studio, 1616 Walnut St. Visit or reach him at (215) 399-3541.