T Nation

Beginner w/ Bad Back Needs Advice


(sorry for the long post, I got carried away, heh)

32, female, caucasian, currently living in Japan. So far so good. What
needs fixin' is my weight (I'd estimate 30 lbs too much on here), my
posture (I have scoliosis in the neck vertebrae) and my lower back
(sciatica, basically I need a stronger back to help carry/support body

I am working on my diet. Drastically cutting down on bread and rice etc,
eating more proteins and trying to avoid bad fats, and generally just
being mindful of what I eat and trying to learn more about food and the
body. I also rode stationary bikes in my home town for a while before I
moved to Japan. The whole moving thing disrupted my newly started
training program, but as of next week I will have access to the gym here
on campus.

Also, I don't know what half the foods over here even are,
and my university is located some ways from the closest town. And the
japanese eat rice, rice, noodles, rice and some more rice. Vegetables
and meat are really expensive, so I'm still trying to get my shopping

I must admit there have been some less-than-ideal dinners had at
the uni cafeteria and from the cup noodle vending machine just outside
my room (damn you, coca cola and cup noodle vending machine! It's
right next to the pastry and oreos vending machine... ).

My first goal is to lose weight and gain flexibility in my upper back.
I'm not sure how much the scoliosis has to do with my bad posture
(shoulders "hanging" forwards, rib cage tilted forwards), it could very
well just be from too little physical activity.

I think losing
weight and improving my diet will give me more energy, and working on
flexibility especially in the upper torso will not only reveal if my
posture is beyond help but it will also prepare me for my second goal.

My second goal being to build muscle for general fitness and to support
my weak back. Basically, sciatica is a pain. Biggun. I've had a couple
of episodes where I have been bedridden for 1-2 weeks at a time because
of the sciatica, and I've gone weeks and weeks after that before I could
even fully extend my back and walk normally. I usually don't get any
warnings, it's just BAM! and a world of pain.

I do know that putting
stress on the lower back is one of the main triggers of sciatica, and I
know for sure my first (and worst) episode was after lifting a heavy
computer desk a few days before. I know technique and posture is key
to heavy lifting, that's what I want to work towards.

So, basically I want to see what I can do about straightening out my
back before I do any "proper weight work". I'm very hesitant to go
straight to lifting or even machine work because of the sciatica.

So... I will keep working on improving my diet.

From monday on I will start going to the gym, and ride the bikes there.
I did actually enjoy riding the bikes back home, and I'm confident I can
get a good cardio workout done at least 4 times a week.

As for upper body flexibility exercises I'm not sure what to do. Apart
from the cardio machines and the resistance training machines I know
there is a ribbed wall and some soft rubber mats in there ^^

Can anyone
point me towards some exercises that would help me increase flexibility
in specifically the upper torso, and/or generally the torso? I don't
feel like I know enough to just start picking out exercises, and I don't
have access to a personal trainer.

As far as strength training goes, would you agree that I should wait
until I "know more" about my posture/neck before I do any proper
strength training? Lifting now would probably help with the weight loss
but I feel the risk of injury is too great. Any thoughts?

If you've read this far, thanks for your time. If you have any advice,
tips or helpful comments I'd be happy to hear them all.


My suggestion is to not seek our "expertise" on medical matters. Instead, go to your physician and ask for a referral to a chiropractor and a sports medicine doctor. I hope that helps, good luck.