My Quality Life Without a Lumbar Disk

Craig Weightman (60-year-old computer programming specialist)

In 1982, I had back surgery to remove a ruptured disk between my fourth and fifth vertebrae, which left only scar tissue in place of the missing disk. That procedure left me with more flexibility, but reduced the strength in my back. The doctor said I could either take care of myself or come back to him in five to seven years for another operation.

I started looking at ways to exercise that would give me a flexible and functional back. When I joined a workout gym and consulted with professional trainers, they all told me to restrict my exercises to parts of my body unrelated to my back, for fear that I would hurt it.

During that time, I frequently visited chiropractors, but I still had back pain, even when I slept. I found that it was more comfortable to sleep on my back, without a pillow and using a mattress that conformed to the shape of my spine. However, my back was still weak and inflexible.

Fortunately for me, in 1986, someone at my gym told me about Jerzy Gregorek. When I went to see him, Jerzy said something that made a great deal of sense: "If you don't strengthen the muscles surrounding your spine, then your back muscles will have to do most of the lifting work, instead of your leg muscles." He also told me that this would be a long-term project, and I should plan on working out for the rest of my life. I signed up with him on the spot, and have never looked back.

We worked on a number of exercises, but the key one was a stiff-legged dead lift. When I started out in 1986, I did that exercise with a broomstick, due to both reduced flexibility and reduced strength. Over the next eight years, I worked out twice a week with Jerzy, increasing both my strength and my flexibility. At the end of that time, I was able to lift 315 pounds. Jerzy said that was more than 90 percent of the people could lift who work out in gyms. I know it was much more than I ever lifted in my life.

Now, nine years later, I still work out for one hour, twice a week by myself in the gym, and I am still able to lift 315 pounds doing the stiff-legged dead lift. I am 60 years old, 6 feet tall, and weigh 200 pounds. The weight training added about 15 pounds of muscle, and everyone says I have the energy of a much younger man. I anticipate working out for the rest of my life and am very thankful that I met Jerzy and followed his prescribed training.

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