"I'm 43 now," Mike T. says. "When I was in my late 20s, all of a sudden, I'd have a back spasm, and I couldn't straighten up. It'd leave me crooked for about a week. That happened two, three times a year."
Spinal stenosis is, according to Mike, "a pinching off of the spinal column." It causes the spaces between the vertebrae to narrow, inflicting a painful pressure on the nerves.
At the time of his diagnosis, his treatment options were limited. "Ten years ago, the only thing they could do is put a steel rod in your back," he recalls. Physical activity could make things worse, depending on the type of activity.
"When you have spinal stenosis, running is terrible – same with biking," Mike says from experience. Due to the pounding and posture of those two activities, "It's compressing your spine. Swimming is the opposite; you're stretching your body the whole time."
It took Mike a few failed attempts before he discovered the most convenient and consistent solution to his spinal stenosis pain.
Mike tried treating his first spinal stenosis flare-up with a chiropractic adjustment. "I walked in at a 15-degree angle; I walked out straight. I thought, 'this is a miracle.'" Unfortunately, he'd find that each subsequent chiropractor visit was less successful than the one before.
Looking back at the diminishing returns from his chiropractor, he now qualifies, "It was like a miracle the first time."
While killing time at the local YMCA during his three kids' swim practice, Mike discovered that swimming helps his spinal stenosis. "If ever I had a muscle spasm, I'd walk into the Y crooked and walk out straight," he recalls. Unfortunately, between limited pool times and his work schedule, "sometimes I could only get in once a week."
He'd arrive first thing in the morning to make sure he didn't miss his daily swim, but there were still problems. "There was too much competition for a lane. I'd feel like a novice – the only other people there were hardcore guys training for a triathlon. It just created stress."
On weeks where he could use the public pool as often as necessary to manage his pain, he recalls, "I was spending a third of my life at the Y! I love the place; I miss some of the people. But it's not the most convenient place for swimming."
Since installing his Endless Pool in the basement of his Dubuque, Iowa, home, Mike notes, "Now it seems I don't have any issues at all. I don't even go to the doctor because it's not causing any issues."
"I get in there, and I freestyle swim for 45 minutes straight. The convenience of it is tremendous."
With the Endless Pool's temperature control, Mike can easily maintain relaxingly warm water. It's a big change from the public pool at the Y, where "the water was cold, and I'd tense up even more."
Mike also had trouble doing flip turns in the Y's traditional pool. "The act of pushing off the wall would undo" the spinal extension from his swimming. That's no longer a concern, thanks to Endless Pools' swim-in-place technology, which eliminates flip turns.
He still gets the rare spinal flare-up. "Occasionally if I do something stupid, I get a minor one. They're way less severe. Then I get in the pool, and it's gone."
"My wife swims about 5 times a week," Mike reports. "The pool gets a lot of use."
"My wife will tell you it's the best money we ever spent," Mike says, providing some context for the magnitude of that statement. "We never splurged on anything before. I'm content driving the same car for 10 years. I don't have a boat; I don't have a convertible. Look around our house – there's nothing fancy. Spending money like this is extremely rare for us."
"As an engineer, I love your design," Mike says of our steel-panel Original Endless Pool. "I design steel structures for a living. I'm really impressed with your design."
Mike opted to install his own Endless Pool indoors. "Everything had to come through a 32" wide doorway," he told us. "You have competitors that need an 8-foot wide doorway!"
"Those panels go up pretty quickly. It's just bolts and stuff. It doesn't require any too-special skills" outside of the electrical work, he found.
To keep the water fresh and clear, Mike notes, "It's surprising how little needs to be done."
Perks like the warm water and easy maintenance are what Mike calls "the icing on the cake." The cake, of course, is his lack of pain and incapacitation from chronic spinal stenosis, thanks to his daily Endless Pool swim. "It just seems like I don't have back problems anymore."