T Nation

Ab and Disc Injury


#1

Hi I have a L4/L5 herniated disc and have slowly gotten back to squatting/deadlifting without pain/problems now. However I find ab work involving flexation will aggravate my back. How can I work/build ab strength to help support my compound lifts without pain?

Exercise that aggravate the most...

Hanging leg raises
Weight stability ball crunches

Machine crunches cause slight irritation.

Anyone else with disc injuries found a effective way to strengthen the abs without aggravating their condition?


#2

The reason anything that involves spine flexion aggravates your back is because that is what caused the injury in the first place. Right now your disk is still healing so stressing it by putting it in flexion will only piss it off more.

To work your abs you're going to have to work them isometricly. An exercise like the plank would be perfect for you right now.

Also be extremely diligent during squats and deadlifts. DO NOT let your back round at any time or else you could end up back where you started with this injury.


#3

It's been a year almost so I imagine this might never heal to the point I can do dynamic ab work?


#4

That's hard to say. Some people with disk injury always seem to have recurrent episodes with their injury. If this occurs you just need to go back to your initial rehab exercises to reduce the herniation. And do everything you can to not let it reaccure in the first place.

If you've gone to physiotherapy or something similar you've likely been given back extenstions by doing half a push up and hopefully several core strength/stabilization exercises. If you haven't done much core stabilization during your rehab you're basicly trying to run (doing leg raises) before you can crawl.


#5

Just my insight here:

I had a very similar injury 14 months ago where I herniated a disc. Just 4 months ago I started squating and doing DL's again. My problem was weak abs. I never had problems/pain in my rehab doing ab work and I was able to build my abs up.
An ab exercise you can try is this :
Lay flat on your back. Put your hands under your butt, one hand over the other. Proceed to lift you ankles a few inches off the ground. You can do repititions and you can hold at the top position. You might feel a little strain in either your abs or lower back where the injury is. If you feel pain then don't continue with the exercise.

You also might want to contact you PT with inquiries on different types of ab exercises. Also just look into all different types of ab exercises and do a little trial and error, find out what feels good and throw out what doesn't.

In an above post it was mentioned that one you have a pretty serious lower back injury it can be re-occuring. This happened to me twice through trying to rush my way back into the "good" lifts. I found the key was patience, strengthening core muscles and starting slow. Some examples that helped me. Back extensions on a GHR bench and ab work. Pretty soon I was able to front squats (I researched and found that front squats put less pressure on your lower back than back squats...and they work the abs pretty nice) with just the bar with no pain. After 2 months I was easily front squating 225 and then I decided it was time to start slow with the deadlifts and the power lifting squats.

Just some insight

Kir Dog


#6

^^^Good post.