T Nation

Herniated Disc

Well I was doing squats one day and my form didn’t feel too good as I was pretty exhausted from the circuit I had been doing. I started feeling pain in my back, and it didn’t go away. That was roughly 2 months ago, so I’ve been going to the chiropractor and hes been working on me for a while to no avail. So we got x-rays, they didn’t tell us anything. Then he ordered a CT scan and we found out I have a herniated disc in my lower lumbar region.

I’m wondering if anybody else has any experience with this type of stuff and any forms of remedy they can recommend. I’ve been reading and doing exercises in a book by a guy named Pete Egoscue titled “The Egoscue Method.”

My back has actually been feeling better the past few weeks doing the workouts in the book but getting the phone call telling me I have the herniated disc just started making my back hurt even more. Damn, I wish he would’ve just never told me.

Take it easy on the back movements, buy a belt, and be very conscious of your form. Lay off olympic and other momentum-based lifts. Squatting is fine, but use bodybuilding-style rep and tempo schemes.

Nearly all herniated discs heal by themselves in six months. I know that sounds like a long time, but if you’re already feeling better, it may take only half that.


Go to http://danjohn.org/gu11.pdf and read Matt Spiller’s article “Press Ups for Back Pain”

I have a herniated disc in the L4-L5 region from deadlifts and KnightRT is right about herniated discs healing over time. Mine started feeling much better in about 6 months. I currently deal with back pain if I’ve been sitting in a stationary position for a long time but that’s about it. I’m way more conscious now of my back posture during lifting and every day life. If you have lots of pain in the early stages, get some prescription pain medication … it really does help. You won’t need to use it forever and it will get you through the initial swelling of the disc. I didn’t do much strength training after mine b/c quite frankly, I could barely walk. I then added back extensions on the floor and then progressed to the ball and finally a hyperextension machine in which I could hold some weight in my hands. Now I’m back to squatting and deadlifting (albeit, not maximal lifts) and my back generally feels fine. Good luck and just keep positive at this time.

Oh yeah, and don’t do stretches in the morning. That’s from a book called Low Back Disorders by McGill which is a great book about recovery as well as the anatomy and physiology of lower back disorders.

If it gives you any comfort, I’ve read repeatedly that bulging and herniated disks are fairly common in healthy (or at least pain-free) backs.

You might want to check out books by Stuart McGill. He has a book on low-back disorders and a newer one on back performance. I just read the performance book and it was a damn good read. According to him properly conditioning the muscles that stabilize the spine and learning safe movement patterns is a much bigger factor in how much pain you feel than what specific conditions may or may not be present.

I’m not a doctor or an expert on the spine, but he is, and he was surprisingly optimistic about the chances for making even the most F’ed-up backs pain-free… so as long as you’re getting better and you can walk, just take this as a warning to learn how to make sure you injury-proof yourself for the future.


You need to be rehabed by a highly qualified person. Most disc injuries are cumulative over a long period of time. Your squating may be off due to poor form caused by muscle imbalances throughout the body. An injury to the disc can cause inhibition of the inner unit and/or other muscle groups that are inervated by the nerves in that area. I would recomend you seek out a high level CHEK practitioner (Level 3 or Level 4, go the Paul Chek’s website to find one in your area)since most are physical therapists. Do everything you can do get to the root of this problem and fix it, if not you could wind up doing the same thing that hurt you in the first place.

Hey all, i had been deadlifting consistently for 3 or 4 months and i felt great. Every part of my body was growing and my deadlift was as strong as ever, i could have probably maxed at around 400lb weighing ~160 so i was real happy. One day i was midway thru my 2nd set and all of a sudden i felt this unbelivable pain in my lower back and a shooting pain wrap around my groin…

i knew something was seriously wrong, i went to and orthopaedic doc. and had an mri and it showed a L4-L5 herniation. I went for pt which helped some, (flexibility, ROM) but the pain was still there everyday especially when i was sitting down. Its been about 5 months and althogh its gotten no worse it hasnt gotten much better and its really been effecting my workouts in terms of exercises i avoid (deadlift squat and anything which heavily loads the spine)which was pretty much the basis of my workouts before i hurt myself.

So right now im deliberating surgery or an epidural injection but im just not sure how long i should wait beacuse ive heard that it could just take a little longer for my pain to go away like 6 months or a little longer. i just dont wanna jump the surgery gun but it gets really frusturating dealing with pain everyday and not lifting as hard as i love to do… any advice?