T Nation

Overcoming Birth Defects


Okay, yes I know. I can blame my parents for this. But since that doesn't accomplish anything and it is kind of cowardly, I've decided to do what I can about it.

Basically, I have issues through my spine and in my sternum.

My lower back, or should I say my sacrum, isn't fused together. Since birth the 5 vertebrae have been detached from the S1 -> S2 - S5 vertebrae. (Basically 3 out of 100 people have this) This causes issues with plenty of daily activities (or at least it used to) and racking up the weight in such exercises such as back squat which puts way to much pressure on this area. I have attempted to develop my core as to protect this area as much as possible and to avoid lifting heavy when it comes to squatting. This is for the most part a success.

My second defect is in my sternum area. This is where I am somewhat lost. It seems that it is more collapsed then anything. I too have put my efforts into ripping my pectorals and upper abdominals to strengthen this area. It took has been somewhat of a success but I want to further my advancement here.

I've posted a pair of photos to give you a better idea...

Any suggestions on what type of exercise(s) I could be doing to 'fill the gap' so to speak?





I have to wish you luck, man. I'm left with a badly damaged left eye from birth, but at least I can do the exercises I love. You already look very good, especially considering your condition.


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I don't know what to suggest man. Maybe PM some of the coaches here. Maybe you could post your location and someone could suggest a coach near you?

Maybe try this: http://www.T-Nation.com/physClinPreSignUp.jsp


do single limb exercises bother you? What has your primary care physician cleared you to do?
How do sprints affect you?
As far as pectus excavatum, there is nothing you can do. add muscle everywhere.


There is an operation you can get for this... but yours is quite mild.

We all have our own things to overcome, keep progressing intelligently and I think you'll be fine. Remember that nothing bad will happen to you if you don't squat. Other exercises are still good choices for your legs.


The sternum problem is cosmetical only, it won't influence your ability to exercise.

I wouldn't worry about it, if anything it will accentuate your pecs.


No single limb exercises don't bother me. My primary care physician had sent me to a very good physical therapist and he suggested that I really develop my core, legs, arms to accompany my situation. Therefore, I put very little stress on my lower back. He then suggested I go see a personal trainer with suggestive exercises, however I couldn't really afford it.

Since then I've found what works for me while hitting the target areas he has suggested.

Sprinting was actually a big problem for me a few years ago. Now I can manage doing some good distance without any pain or aching. Granted I've lost over 20 lbs and added some good strength.


What kind of operation are you talking about?

And yes, I have to keep that in mind. Walking lunges have been part of my routine for so long now and I find them to be a good substitute. On the other hand, I really do love doing squats, it just sucks knowing that I can lift more, yet I won't.