T Nation

Back to Work After Minor Back Injury

I injured my lower back about 10 weeks ago (sprained some ligaments there), and it’s slowly becoming better and better. It would have been healed weeks ago if I hadn’t aggravated it again and again, and I even refused to stop doing heavy leg work (thank God I only did lunges) at first, but after visiting a doctor and a physical therapist it started to heal when I stopped stressing my back.

Anyway, it’s been “kinda fine” for a few weeks now, but every time it starts feeling perfectly normal I make it (very slightly) hurt for a few days. I’ve learned that even though squats and deadlifts with an empty bar don’t hurt ONE BIT they still make the back a little stiff for a few days, so I’ve stopped doing that. I’ve mainly done some dips and chins because they seem to be the only exercises that don’t stress lower back, but even weighted chins have made it a little worse sometimes.

So I’m kind of confused now. The doctor said it should have healed by now, and recommended doing more walking, running and other “elastic” activity and it seems to help a little. But how should I make my return to serious lifting? I’m DYING to get back to squatting and deadlifting, but I have no idea when my body is ready for some light back work. It just seems that no matter how good it feels it still gets bad even after some empty-bar low back work.

Should I just wait for like 2 weeks AFTER my back starts to feel normal and THEN start light deadlifting, or are there some exercises (reverse hyper?) that would help the recovery now? Mainly I’m just wondering how long it should feel normal before I do any light lifting.

Even now I think my back could handle a max deadlift, but then I’d be in pain for the next week. Worst thing is that it’s been so long that I can’t even recognize what “normal” feels like and I have no idea if I’m just experiencing “normal” back stiffness due to sitting or poor posture or if it’s really legit pain! At this rate it will never become normal because I simply CAN’T resist trying some super light back work every time it gets better.

Any ideas will be appreciated.