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Help Me With My Back Injury


Hey guys,

I had my first back injury almost two weeks ago. I was deadlifting with working sets. I think on the third set, my form slipped JUST A TINY BIT and my back rolled over. I felt a huge twinge and knew something was wrong.

Of course I immediately stopped deadlifting and continued on with my work out. Next morning, felt fine.

Come 2 days after the incident I'm squatting. All warmup sets go fine. First working set, it just gives out again. This time it huts the rest of the workout. The next morning I can't bend over to dry my legs after a shower. I'm slow to move around etc. I haven't done any squatting or deadlifting since then(almost 2 weeks ago).

I should note that this is my lower back, right near the bottom and it hurt on both sides of my spine.

It feels fine now doing daily things and other exercises, but I'm very nervous to try squatting or deadlifting again. I can still tell sometimes that it's stiff and it would give out. It actually hurts a little right now if I arch my back or if I round it and roll down my neck.

I've been squatting and deadlifting for a long time, so I know my form is pretty good (granted I got weak and let it slip on a final set).

Where should I go from here? How long do I wait to try again? Should I start using a belt? Help me, I'm really nervous.

If it matters I weigh about 203# right now and was squatting 375 and DLing 405.


I have had that problem a few times now, after 6 months of physio with no improvement I went to a Chirpractor, turns out my hips were out of line (he siad it was from heavy sumo deadlifts, he adjusted them and I had full movement and the pain went away instantly,

I got straight back in to Heavy Deadlifting and squatting and was fine for 12 months, then it happened again, went back to the chirpractor and had another adjustment and have been fine ever since. Thats what fixed me anyway


Good call. I’ll wait a bit and if it doesn’t get better I’ll go see someone.

Anyone else? Should I wear a belt? come on guys, I need you here


Wear the belt.


I had a very similar injury last may - slight injury with deadlift, stopped, and then squatted a few days later and extreme pain. Granted my strength isn’t near yours, but the situation is similar. Although for me it hurt to sit for more than 5 minutes - but definitely that pain when hyperextending or rounding the lower back.

I went to an acupuncture clinic and that helped a little, but I just took some time and very slowly eased my way back. Unilateral leg exercises felt fine - lunges, split squats and the like. Then after I felt okay with that, I moved to front squats and built up confidence there. And now I’m finally back to regular squats - although I do them high bar Oly style now rather than low bar which was what I was doing at the time of injury.

As far as deadlifting, I avoided regular deadlifts and did romanians - actually would do them before front squats because it warmed my back up and loosened my hamstrings.

Now before any workout I make sure to stretch my hams and hip flexors as much as possible - but you probably already do that given your level. Good luck and hope it’s just a minor tweak that dissappears fast.


i fucked the lower right side of my back d/l’ing…needless to say that was in august and today was the first time i deadlifted again… although i did continue to squat. backs aint no joke, when you hurt, you get hurt bad


^^^yeah that’s why im terrified!


Depends on what it is. Therefore, you really need to find out what is wrong.

If you tore some muscle fibers (i.e., sprain), then the injury itself won’t be a big deal, but you should take it as a warning sign to address mobility, postural issues, and form.

If you tore a ligament, it will be a bigger deal and a bigger warning sign to address mobility, postural issues, and form.

If you injure discs severely enough, you’re screwed for awhile. Six months is the average recovery time.

Do not stretch hams or hip flexors before lifting. Possibly, not ever.

I herniated several discs (I think I’ve got 4 or 5 bad ones now) with deadlifting the major culprit. I injured my back so severely I was completely disabled for 3 months. I couldn’t lean over the sink to brush my teeth. I couldn’t sneeze. I couldn’t put socks on. Etc.

Before I got to that stage, I had nagging pains for months, actually even years. I even went to my doctor two times in the four months before the severe injury (which obviously didn’t help at all - you’ve got to find the right doctor). So the lesson to learn is find out what’s wrong and fix it before you injure it more severely.

I’ve also injured a shoulder and elbow, but let me tell you those non-core injuries were NOTHING compared to the disability that a bad back injury can cause. Find out what is wrong and what is causing it! And fix it!


Lay off the deadlifts and squats until you can build some confidence back. Give it some time to heal while using some alternatives. When I injured my back I had to switch to front squats. It was a great time to bring those up and concentrate on them in specific.

I know it’s difficult to lay off the lifts for awhile, but it would probably save you a ton of grief if you go in there and really hurt yourself. Believe me, without confidence, you will!

While you take some time off, try doing some obscure core stability exercises as well. I found overhead squats to work quite well, as well as some gymnastics ring work. The key thing is to keep moving and give your back some work to do. It won’t heal if you sit in a chair all day.

After a good amount of time when your back feels strong again(this amount depends on many factors, could be 2 weeks to 2 years), you have to convince yourself that you’re not injured anymore. Ease back into the deadlifts, and make sure your form is better than ever. I look back at videos of myself before my injury and I found my form was somewhat scandalous. You have to make sure it’s flawless! By that I mean a neutral spine and the bar as close to your center of mass as possible.

Also you should be seeking out muscle imbalances that might have been the cause of your injury. Muscle tightness may also be a factor, which massage and myofascial release can fix. There definitely was a cause of this, so the good part is you don’t have to suffer through this again if you figure out what it was.

I’m not sure about the belts. I’ve read opinions for them, and opinions against them. The back strong and beltless article seemed to make enough sense for me to go without the belt. It seems to work for me, but I’ve never deadlifted over 500, so my advice isn’t too valuable.

If you read anything from this post, though, it should be this: Don’t deadlift without confidence! ever! Bring your A game every time. If you don’t have it, don’t deadlift. If you never have it, re-evaluate your mental preparation.

Also watch for tingling in your legs, SERIOUS loss of strength, the feeling of being pricked with needles, or loss of flexibility(although I don’t recommend stretching immediately after the injury). If you feel those, you’d better get an MRI.

If you treat yourself right during this injury, you won’t have much to worry about from the sounds of it. It was said by one of the writers here recently, “Injury breeds perspective.” Nothing could be further from the truth. After this experience I guarantee your training will be 100% more intelligent, and you’ll be on your way to getting stronger than you’ve ever been. Don’t listen to people that say lower back injuries don’t heal. They do.

There’s probably scores of people on these boards to prove it to you, myself included. I was out for a year with a deadlifting injury. All of a sudden, it was healed. Be positive about it and you’re on your way to recovery.


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[quote]bushidobadboy wrote:
andersons wrote:
Do not stretch hams or hip flexors before lifting. Possibly, not ever.


I agree that stretching hams before exercise is generally a bad idea, and that stretching any muscle before using it, will only reduce its ability to generate force.


Speaking from my experience with a bad back, I find that the only way I can squat properly is if I stretch my hams and hips and psoas before training. Granted, it’s taken about 8 months to get to this point, but I I’ve been going for the past 6 weeks pain free full squatting, deadlifting near what I was using before injury, and powercleaning near what I was using before injury.

Another thing is because I work out in the AM, I am always sure to get up at least an hour before lifting, then start stretching about 20 mintues before lifting - doing many of the stretches recommended by the squat RX videos on youtube. But everybody and every injury is different. I’m just saying what has been working for me.

A side note - if you decide to get acupuncture - you very well might feel great afterwards but don’t confuse feeling better with being better. Give yourself some time to heal but continue exercising. I confused that myself and reinjured my back playing volleyball a month after initial injury.

When I was in the most pain I did lots of unilateral leg exercises, lots of pullups, and whenever the opportunity presented itself - I swam. Swimming alleviated all pain. Then after building some confidence I moved onto front squats and romanian deads (which felt great). Then I moved to where I am now, full squats and conventional deads.

Listen to your body.


[quote]bushidobadboy wrote:
andersons wrote:
Do not stretch hams or hip flexors before lifting. Possibly, not ever.


I agree that stretching hams before exercise is generally a bad idea, and that stretching any muscle before using it, will only reduce its ability to generate force.

However, if you have anterior pelvic tilt, causing hamstring and abdominal inhibition, then stretching psoas before exercise is a good idea (as long as you don’t need much force from the psoas which you won’t in deadlifting or squatting).

Whaen you reach the top of the deadlift, and your overtight psoas are tilting your hips antreiorly, causing a hyperlordosis in the lumbar spine and you have a large amouint of weight in your hands, what do you think will happen to the facet joints? That’s right, they will likely bear a lot more load than they should, irritating them and causing pain.


Tight psoas may be a problem. But classic psoas stretches do not work, at least for me. They ALWAYS cause me pain.

In general I am not a fan of isolated static stretches of problem muscles as a means to fix pain arising from dynamic movements. I did a ton of static stretching with no success. Instead, I find a combination of soft tissue work and more complex movements, like those in McGill’s book and Egoscue’s book, fix the overly tight psoas and anterior pelvic tilt.

The pattern of muscles firing during a movement like a deadlift is very complex. I do not believe that anyone knows, especially for someone in pain, that the psoas is causing the problem during the actual deadlift movement. And even if it is, the static stretch may not even target the same muscle fibers that are causing the problem during the movement. (My perspective here comes from being a cognitive neuroscientist specializing in motor learning and motor control.)

There is a long history of recommending static stretches to solve movement-related pain, with limited success – in fact, perhaps just as many failures as successes, which suggests that the approach is no better than a shot in the dark.

McGill actually observed an experienced powerlifter rupture a disc while deadlifting in his lab while hooked up to all kinds of measuring devices (EMG, etc.). If I remember correctly, the injury was caused by a little multifidus that failed to fire. The movement was fine except for that one little muscle that failed to support that one disc for that one little fraction of a second but instead let it get hammered by the weight.

Whatever the reasons may be, classic psoas stretches did NOT fix my anterior pelvic tilt, did NOT help my form in any lift, and virtually always triggered pain. On the other hand, spinal stability movements, hip mobility movements, glute activation movements including one-legged stuff, and soft tissue work DID fix those problems. (And interestingly, it was soft tissue work on the glutes that was so helpful, not on the psoas.) So my reasoning about static stretching is, when in doubt, leave it out. And over the internet there is always doubt.

(BTW I enjoy the information you give on this and other threads, and I’m so glad to see more people studying issues related to injury treatment and prevention for lifters. There was nothing much out there years ago when I started lifting, and what I didn’t know DID hurt me.)


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I am now basically afraid to stretch. (Except for my calves; I’ve never hurt anything, to my knowledge, stretching them, and they’re tight.) I dutifully did TONS of stretching before I crunched my discs. In retrospect it clearly did harm, not good, especially hams and psoas, because I had faulty motor patterns.

I’m not sure what PIR means. Or CRAC-P. PNF is what I used to do a lot of.

The cognitive neuroscience IS interesting, but it is limited as well as useful in my quest to understand my injury and how to fix it and how to train around it. The limitation is that this is not anatomy or kinesiology; I don’t know a thing about all the muscles and structures involved, or what muscles are involved in movement (other than the obvious large ones). CNS is about the high level of control, much like a computer software designer doesn’t have to know everything about the hardware.