5 Tips for Divers with Back Problems

By Roy Cabalo

As a long time diver, and now instructor, that has suffered from back problems for many years, I’ve come to a general set of rules I live by that make diving with a spinal problem much easier.

Communicate!

It’s the easiest of my rules and the most effective tip I can give.  Your routine diving buddy should know you have a problem but the boat crew won’t.  Tell the deck hands you might need a hand getting to the ladder or back up the ladder when you return.  They can’t help you if they don’t know.

Balance Your Load

I never carry just one cylinder on one side of my body.  I carefully lift one on each side or I balance a cylinder on one side and a gear bag on the other.  If I only have one cylinder, I’ll cradle it to wherever I’m going to even the weight.

Stretching

Something I very rarely see divers doing, but it has always seemed to help me.  Your medical professional can tell you what should work best for you but, like me, you learn over time what stretches to do both before and after your dive. Yes, you need to stretch between dives as well.

Equipment

Only you know what equipment works best for you.  Aluminum 80s are most common but there are times when my shorter steel 80 works better since it rides higher in my BCD.  I have both traditional blade fins and split fins.  When planning a dive, I take into consideration how I feel and the dive conditions and determine which fins will provide less stress and appropriate functionality.

Awareness

You need to be able to call your own dive.  There are no heroes in diving and there is nothing wrong with signaling you have to go up.  The dive you abort today might be the dive that saves your life and gives you the ability to dive again for many more years.

Like so many other things that go with diving, it’s a matter of common sense which seems to be uncommon in many.  Think about what YOU need, make it a routine, and the rest comes easy. Share the knowledge with the rest of the diving community and lets all Dive Dive Dive.

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