T Nation

Back Injury

I had a slight disc injury recently and had to stop all weights for about three months. To make up for this, I upped my cardio, but am now ready to make a start back into the resistance work. I was advised not to do any exercises that involve pressing over the head, but was wondering if anyone could suggest an upper-body routine that would be less strenuous for the upper back, as I’m going mad without my weights…

If OH pressing is out, then squats would also be out, right? THAT would be a major bummer. What about upright rows (no flames about that one, please)? Wouldn’t they load the spine in a similar manner? Mind you, OH press isn’t an upper back move, it’s a shoulder move. If you’re looking for upper back moves that don’t stress teh spine, there’s pullups (which would tend to decompress the spine), supported rows, dumbell rows. You could do upright flyes to stimulate the medial delt in place of the OH press, but I think you’d have trouble activating the upper traps in any appreciable manner without loading the spine. Don’t know if that’s what you’re looking for, but I hope it helps.

I get back injuries from time to time and I usually recover just fine. I’m assuming you had a lower back injury for this info. What you need to make sure you do while working out is to not have too much compression of the spine, rotation and/or too much flexion of the spine. I tend to wear a weightbelt when first starting back to help support my lower back doing most upper body exercises that don’t cause me discomfort. This usually means you should start off with light weights again. I don’t squat until I have absolutely no pain bending over. You can overhead press if you’re careful and use light weights, and truthfully, doing presses overhead while stading is less stressful to your spine than when sitting down. Just make sure everything you do is with good form and don’t lift heavy. Some cable rows can help strengthen your back and just take it easy for the first couple of weeks. Oh yeah, use proper lifting techiniques when picking up the weights, squat to pick them up, don’t bend over, even with light weights. Good Luck!

Disc Injury? Could you be more specific. How were you diagnosed. Often times finds on MRI are not necessarily the cause of your pain. Many people walk around with multiple disc herniations and never know it because they are asymptomatic and people without pain do not typically get MRIs. Typical recommendations for disc injuries are don’t bend over, don’t squat, and dont’t lift heavy weights. But then how does on pick their dirty socks up off the floor, get off the toilet, or carry their groceries into the house? Why are they limiting your overhead pressing? If you have back pain with no neurologic involvement (per MRI findings) it is doubtful that your pain is related to the disc as any annular tear (the outermost portion of the disc) would be well on its way to being healed. The outer most layer of the disc is the only area of the disc which has nerve endings which can send pain signals to your brain. My gut feeling is that your instructions need a little more qualification. If you provide more info about your diagnoses and course of treatment, I’d be happy to help you organize your workout. I don’t think you’ll be limited like you think.

I could recommend several workouts, but only you can judge pain and discomfort. I recently injured my back - and the best thing I can recommend is - work it! Don’t let your strong back muscles atrophy. The best thing i did for my back was to keep working out. Granted, i had to lower my intensity, but i kept working out. You just have to work through discomfort and stop if there is pain. BUt please know the difference, i don’t want you to further injure yourself. The other thing i can say is stretching, message, and warming up well on the tredmill will help alot. The worst thing i think i could have done is take a week off. Find out what movements hurt, and avoid them, find out what doesn’t and do it. But keep doing it.