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.