T Nation

Deadlifting and Squatting Following Injury

I herniated my L5-S1 bad 2 years ago, so bad I lost the complete use of my calf and 50% strength in my hamstring and glute in my left leg, along with very bad sciatica and loss of feeling in part of my leg and foot. I did it squatting 405 for a set of ten, I finished the set of ten and while it felt like a crappy set that was staining my back I did not have any sudden snap or crack or failure. I believe it was buldged out already close to failure from a previous incident and the squatting caused it to fail completely.

6 months after the herniation I had a mri that showed that it was still bulged, however it has receded about 50% from the original injury. I haven’t had it imaged again so am not sure what is going on now.

Anyway, fast forward 2 years I have 100% strength in hamstring (relative to other leg) and while my calf is still a bit smaller than my other one I can do about 60 single leg calf raises on it which is a bit less than my right leg. I have no more pain (the really bad sciatic pain stopped after 6 weeks), however I still have a loss of sensation in the outside edge of my foot and baby toe; I can feel pressure but everything else is dull in that part of the foot. Originally the doctor told me that I may never get the feeling back.

The first year following the injury I just used machines in the gym and went for walks. For the second year I have done not much in the way of squats and deadlifts or heavy rows, I have done front squatting with 135 or 185 lbs and recently have done sumo deadlifts with 225 for sets of 10-20. I have tried conventional deads with 135 and it feels like I don’t have the flexibility to get into the bottom of the lift.

Before the injury I could max dead 585 and squat 495, while I don’t have any ambition to conventional deadlift or backsquat heavy weights anymore I would like get up to a FS of 315 and sumo 500-600 and be able to clean 315 from the floor again, which means I need to be able to conventional deadlift 315. However, I don’t know if it is wise to pursue, originally the doctor told me I have been abusing my back and I should stop and just use machines…

I am wondering if anyone with back problems has made a recovery back to heavy lifting and what you did to get back there or if there are any guys in the medical community with any advice.

[quote]Joe84 wrote:
I herniated my L5-S1 bad 2 years ago, so bad I lost the complete use of my calf and 50% strength in my hamstring and glute in my left leg, along with very bad sciatica and loss of feeling in part of my leg and foot. I did it squatting 405 for a set of ten, I finished the set of ten and while it felt like a crappy set that was staining my back I did not have any sudden snap or crack or failure. I believe it was buldged out already close to failure from a previous incident and the squatting caused it to fail completely.

6 months after the herniation I had a mri that showed that it was still bulged, however it has receded about 50% from the original injury. I haven’t had it imaged again so am not sure what is going on now.

Anyway, fast forward 2 years I have 100% strength in hamstring (relative to other leg) and while my calf is still a bit smaller than my other one I can do about 60 single leg calf raises on it which is a bit less than my right leg. I have no more pain (the really bad sciatic pain stopped after 6 weeks), however I still have a loss of sensation in the outside edge of my foot and baby toe; I can feel pressure but everything else is dull in that part of the foot. Originally the doctor told me that I may never get the feeling back.

The first year following the injury I just used machines in the gym and went for walks. For the second year I have done not much in the way of squats and deadlifts or heavy rows, I have done front squatting with 135 or 185 lbs and recently have done sumo deadlifts with 225 for sets of 10-20. I have tried conventional deads with 135 and it feels like I don’t have the flexibility to get into the bottom of the lift.

Before the injury I could max dead 585 and squat 495, while I don’t have any ambition to conventional deadlift or backsquat heavy weights anymore I would like get up to a FS of 315 and sumo 500-600 and be able to clean 315 from the floor again, which means I need to be able to conventional deadlift 315. However, I don’t know if it is wise to pursue, originally the doctor told me I have been abusing my back and I should stop and just use machines…

I am wondering if anyone with back problems has made a recovery back to heavy lifting and what you did to get back there or if there are any guys in the medical community with any advice.
[/quote]

TBH, with that kind of med hx I would not squat or deadlift anymore considering the severeness of the symptoms during the first instance. There are a few things you can do as preventative measures: 1. wear a belt
2. Perform extension based exercises
3. Avoid flexion based exercises and stretching.

hope this helps

[quote]BHOLL wrote:

TBH, with that kind of med hx I would not squat or deadlift anymore considering the severeness of the symptoms during the first instance. There are a few things you can do as preventative measures: 1. wear a belt
2. Perform extension based exercises
3. Avoid flexion based exercises and stretching.

hope this helps[/quote]

Really on the never deadlift and squat? Even with higher reps (lighter). What do you base this recommendation on? I think it is beneficial, at least with lighter weights to build some muscle in the lwr back using sumos.

I haven’t had any further problems with it since my original episode in terms of reinjuring it or having pain reappear, once the pain went away it never came back. The numbness in my foot I suspect is permanent.

[quote]Joe84 wrote:

[quote]BHOLL wrote:

TBH, with that kind of med hx I would not squat or deadlift anymore considering the severeness of the symptoms during the first instance. There are a few things you can do as preventative measures: 1. wear a belt
2. Perform extension based exercises
3. Avoid flexion based exercises and stretching.

hope this helps[/quote]

Really on the never deadlift and squat? Even with higher reps (lighter). What do you base this recommendation on? I think it is beneficial, at least with lighter weights to build some muscle in the lwr back using sumos.

I haven’t had any further problems with it since my original episode in terms of reinjuring it or having pain reappear, once the pain went away it never came back. The numbness in my foot I suspect is permanent.
[/quote]

"The numbness in my foot I suspect is permanent."
And imagine a second time where it results in permanent drop foot

Strengthening the lower back can be accomplished more effectively with other means besides squatting and deadlifting. What am I basing this upon? The high recurrence rate of disc related dysfunction. Sounds to me like you’ve already made up your mind, front squat is a better option than the back squat.