A young woman has told of the terrifying moment she broke her spine while lifting weights at the gym and had no idea until she woke up the next morning unable to move a muscle.
Josie Kuntsefrom Sydney, was preparing for a World Beauty Fitness and Fashion (WBFF) competition in early 2018 and was working at the gym at the time.
During a leg training session, she was deadlifting and squatting at 120 kg. Everything seemed fine until the next morning.
“I went home to bed, woke up and couldn’t move. The pain was unbearable,” Josie, now 27, told FEMAIL.
“My boyfriend at the time had to carry me into the car and take me straight to the hospital.”
Josie spent four months in the hospital, followed by two months of recovery at home. To this day, her back is still not the same – and physios say it probably never will.
Josie Kuntze prepared for a World Beauty Fitness and Fashion (WBFF) competition in 2018 and also worked out at the gym before breaking her back in a freak accident (pictured in 2018)
Now 27, the YouTuber recalled being in terrible pain the morning after a leg workout and unable to work. Her boyfriend at the time had to carry her to the car and the hospital
She visited the emergency room twice, waiting a grueling seven hours each time, but was sent home with Panadol.
“I cried, screamed, and couldn’t walk on my own. I have no idea why doctors haven’t done scans,” Josie said.
Her mother finally said “enough is enough” and took her to another hospital where doctors performed MRI and CT scans.
It was eventually determined that Josie’s back was broken in several places – she had bulging and herniated discs and a broken spine.
“I spent months in that hospital. Couldn’t take a shower on my own, couldn’t brush my own hair… it was a really hard time for me,” she said.
“Doctors actually said it’s a matter of bone healing over time – because of course my whole back couldn’t be put in a cast.”
She visited the emergency room twice but was sent home with Panadol each time and claims doctors did not perform any scans. Her mother finally said “enough is enough” and took her to another hospital where doctors determined her back was broken
She was unable to walk, go to the bathroom or sit up without assistance, which affected both her physical and mental health.
“I was young, in my twenties, and I loved sports, so it was very hard to be still for so long and be in a hospital bed,” Josie said.
She had always wanted to travel from an early age, but the injury put her plans on hold.
Through rehabilitation and six months of working with chiropractors and physios, she slowly learned to walk again.
There was even a point where Josie wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to walk again.
“I had to learn how to take my first steps again, I felt like I was 60,” Josie said.
“When I finally got back on my feet, my physio told me, ‘This is not something that can be fixed, it can only be managed.’
“Honestly, hearing those words honestly made me feel better because I had been worrying about what the outcome would be for so long.”
It was eventually determined that Josie’s back was broken in several places – she had bulging and herniated discs and a broken spine. “I spent months in that hospital,” she said
Can Lifting Heavy Weights Ruin Your Back?
Back injuries that occur with exercise include strain on the lumbar (lower back), muscle strains, neck sprains, and rarely stress fractures.
The most common culprits are lifting too heavy weights and losing shape.
Despite the potential shot to pride or ego, when it comes to weightlifting at the gym, it’s imperative that you start with a lighter weight and gradually move up as you gain muscle strength.
It is also imperative that you don’t sacrifice form to push a bigger load.
While some exercise-induced injuries occur from a sudden wrong or clumsy movement, many are caused by repetitive movements over time, such as tennis elbow.
Performing the same movement repeatedly affects one muscle group, leading to wear and tear and gradual inflammation.
Repetitive motion can also cause breaks or bruises in the tissue that supports the spine. This type of injury is most common in wrestling, tennis, rowing, diving, dancing, volleyball, and gymnastics.
Deadlifting is one of the most common culprits of lifting-induced lower back injuries
Source: njbrainspine. com & Men’s health
While recovering as much as possible, Josie experienced feelings of anger, sadness, and regret.
“For a long time I asked myself why I went to the gym that day and lifted such a heavy weight, or why I was prescribed the gym plan,” she said.
“Maybe I should have taken a day off or not pushed myself so hard… while in the hospital I was constantly thinking ‘why me?’… it was a really hard, dark time.”
These days it’s the little things she struggles with – from touching her toes to making the bed and walking up the stairs.
“I can no longer do what I once was able to do; I can only walk about 8,000 steps a day before my back starts to hurt, I can’t vacuum or mop floors, or even bend down to play with the dog,” she said.
“I can’t sit for long periods of time without pain, which makes flights over four hours very challenging.”
In addition to being a gym junkie all her life, Josie loved taekwondo — but she can no longer lift heavy weights or train in martial arts.
“I paid out of pocket for about two years because I had no private health, almost 50 percent of my salary on physios, chiros and acupuncture,” she said.
Through rehabilitation and six months of work with chiropractors and physios, she slowly learned to walk again
She can now travel and make videos for social media. Last year she won YouTube Australia and New Zealand Creator On The Rise twice, which was a huge milestone
Despite the life-changing ordeal, Josie’s relationship with fitness has “completely changed.”
“I was so full on it before, but now going to the gym can be painful,” she said.
“I had to learn how to train differently and focus on things other than heavy weight and it’s made it much harder to stay in shape since my injury, but I’m glad I can walk.”
She’s also ticked more destinations off her list, including Southeast Asia, Thailand, and the US.
During her travels, she started making videos for both of them YouTube and TikTok and is now a full-time content creator with a combined following of over half a million people.
Last year she won YouTube Australia and New Zealand Creator On The Rise twice, which was a huge milestone.