My Kieser Story, Andy Din: to Keep Playing Football

Client Name: Andy Din
Centre: Sandringham
Primary Instructor: Millane Rayner 

Andy came to Kieser to improve his strength to prepare for back surgery. After a successful surgery, he had the opportunity to experience Kieser as both a client and a team member. Here is his story: 

“Since I started playing AFL at 7 years of age, I had never missed a full season of football. A few minor injuries here and there (dislocated thumb, fractured fingers, broken arms, ankle sprains!) but nothing too serious to keep me out for an entire year. 

I was 19 years old when I first started to experience some back pain. I didn’t think much of it at the time, I just thought that it was some muscle soreness from the previous night’s pre-season footy training session. That was around October 2015. Little did I know what the next few years had in store for me.

I saw a few different health professionals but to no avail. I knew I’d be doing more harm than good if I played footy that year, so the sensible thing to do was stop playing. I had also started university that year as well, studying my Bachelors of Exercise & Sport Science, and was learning about the importance of rehabilitation and recovery from injuries amongst other subjects. 

I had an MRI scan done which showed a genetic degeneration of the L4/L5 intervertebral disc as well as some bulges in the L3/4 and L5/S1 discs. I didn’t think that I put my body through that much trauma over 20 years to be showing signs of “wear and tear”, but unfortunately that was the card that life had dealt me.

It was around the end of 2016 when I first saw a neurosurgeon about my condition. He recommended getting a total disc replacement surgery of the degenerative disc, but he wanted me to get a second and third opinion from other neurosurgeons as well before diving straight into it. I did this over several months and got the same recommendation to get the surgery from all the surgeons. Being so young (21 years old), I knew I couldn’t live with this constant pain for the rest of my life and a follow up appointment with my neurosurgeon confirmed what I knew had to happen. Surgery. More specifically, an L4/5 total artificial disc replacement. 

It was around mid 2017 when I first heard about Kieser. I had read an article in the newspaper about St. Kilda player David Armitage and how he had been suffering from back pain for quite a while and he was doing some training at Kieser Brighton and seeing some good results. If it was good enough for an AFL player, then it would be good enough for me. So I booked myself in and thus began my journey at Kieser.

I had 3-4 months before my surgery in November, so all I was focused on was getting as strong as I could prior to the surgery so that I didn’t lose too much strength afterwards and so that the recovery and rehabilitation process would be as short as possible. I had been so inactive for the last 2 years and coming from a physically active background, it was such a good feeling and a relief to be able to train and push myself again in a safe environment.

My first impressions of Kieser were very impressive. I spent a lot of time on the Lumbar Extension machine and was amazed at the technology involved in targeting the specific muscles of the lower back. My strength tests reflected just how weak I had become in the lower back, since I wasn’t able to complete any type exercise for the past 18 months. Compared to the same age demographic, I was in the bottom 2%, which didn’t surprise me at all. I couldn’t get any worse, so the only way from there was up!

The training methods used at Kieser were a bit different than what I was used to doing in the past, but they had the research to back their methods, so I was more than happy to try it out. The machines themselves are very impressive in the way they can truly isolate specific muscle groups. One thing that I did notice was that the typical member was just a ‘little’ bit older than myself, being the ripe old age of 21. Therefore, there is a huge emphasis on technique and the quality of the movement. It was really great to see members aged in their teens all the way through to their 80’s and beyond doing strength training and pushing some impressive weights as well!

Part of my degree involved placement hours to gain experience in the industry and I was fortunate enough that I was able to complete half of my required hours at Kieser Brighton and it was great to get a perspective from both worlds, as both client and Exercise Scientist.

The environment of Kieser is fantastic. The quietness of the floor allows you to concentrate on yourself and puts you in an almost meditative state, until your muscles begin to burn and scream at you to stop doing the exercise! The staff are exceptional, making sure that members are looked after and performing the exercises correctly and safely. Everyone knows your name, even the staff members that haven’t taken you through a session before, which impressed me a lot, considering there is over 700 members at Brighton alone. 

I had my surgery in late November 2017 and was up walking very slowly the next day. Simple everyday tasks that had caused me pain in the past, such as putting shoes on and bending down to pick something off the floor were now much less painful. It was an amazing feeling. I could even bend down past my knee caps comfortably for the first time in 2 years.

After about 8 weeks, I was able to begin slowly jogging around the oval, and as the months went on, I gradually increased my distances and intensity and was feeling great. I’m now back at footy training with my team, running around kicking the ball and couldn’t be happier. It had been over 2 years since I last completed a training session and here I was back running around, albeit much, much slower.

It was also around May 2018 when a job opening came up for an Exercise Scientist position at Kieser Sandringham. I had just finished my degree and was looking for a job in the industry. I knew that Kieser would be an awesome place to work at so I immediately applied for the job and was fortunate enough that Balu and Deb thought that I would be a great fit to the team. The time has flown by since I started working at Kieser and I’m really enjoying working at Kieser and getting to know all the members.

I’ve been able to resume my strength training at Kieser alongside working and I’m feeling so much stronger, physically and mentally. I try to share my story when I can, with clients that are going through a similar experience, and can personally vouch for Kieser for the help they gave me.

My next goal is to eventually return to playing footy again within the next few years. With the help of the team at Kieser I know that I’ll give myself every opportunity to achieve that goal.

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