T Nation

History of Low Back Pain. Tips?

37 yr old male, getting back into lifting. Currently taking 100mg of test cyp weekly for low T issues. I’ve always had low back problems for the last 15 yrs or so.

Any exercises that I should avoid at all costs and are there some I should incorprate for those with a history of low back pain.


First you should find out what is causing you low back pain. Is it due to an APT? Is it over active QL? Inhibited glutes? Poor hip ROM? The possibilities of possible causes continue on.

After that, you incorporate exercises to address those weaknesses/limiting factors and continue to safely train exercises or variations of exercises that provide a good risk to reward ratio while considering your strength levels, overall mobility, and weakness/limiting factors contributing to your back pain.

As to who to see regarding determining your issues, you have the option of going to see a: Sports orthopedic physician (preferably a low back specialist), Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist/Rehab Specialist, Doctor of Osteopath with a sports background, Chiro with a sports background, or a practitioner (could be any of the people already listed or a performance/strength coach) with a movement screening background (FMS, Z-Health, etc). If you do have a good training background and understanding of functional anatomy, etc., you could attempt to perform a self-assessment. To warn you though, generally people who try self-assessments will fall short, and with your case of 15+ years of low back problems you either A) have an issue that is beyond your comprehension for self assessment, and/or B) just are not very good at any kind of self-assessment.

Well, Over the years I’ve done multiple MRI’s, seen Chiros, PT’s etc. I have some slight buldging in the L4-S1 disk region and some minor arthritis in lower back. I did some high impact sports in my younger days. Avid snowboarder, skater and surfer.

I have good days and bad days regarding low back pain. Was mainly just curious if there are certain lifts I should avoid like squats, etc., and if anyone knows of some lifts that will actually help those with low back problems.

Did you ever receive any therapy (rehab or medicine based) for the mild disc bulges? Do you recall the size of the bulges? There really isn’t much that can be done directly for the arthritis, but fish oils, glucosamine chondroitin, and other supplements may help alleviate the symptoms associated with the arthritis.

I still recommend finding a good movement screening specialist to determine any and all pathologies in your movement patterns and muscular imbalances present. Then you can address your specific needs, which should greatly decrease low back pain. Also, if the movement specialist has performance/strength coach background, having your technique/form evaluated on lifts that require lumbar stability (squats, deads, etc) would be extremely helpful as well.

A generic answer for your situation of low back pain with your history and without doing an in person evaluation, I would say to avoid sit-ups/crunches and any other movement that encourages lumbar spinal flexion. I would definitely not avoid lifts like squats, deadlifts, etc., but instead avoid performing squats, deadlifts, etc with improper form.

As long as you do not have any underlying pathology or current neurological symptoms from the discs, you should be fine to perform squats. If you lack proper lumbar stability, you will need to address that before going into heavy back squats and deads, but that is no excuse to completely throw out the exercises all together. You can start with single leg variations, Goblet squats, etc while working on ankle/hip/thoracic mobility drills and lumbar stability exercises.

Again though, I would highly recommend seeking out a qualified movement specialist and performance/strength coach to find specific imbalances and guide you in the right direction. If you give your location, there hopefully should be at least one person on this board who can recommend a person in your area.

If you are in the mind-frame of “doing it yourself” and refuse or can’t find a professional in your area, the “Assess and Correct” DVD is a great start, as well as the “Show and Go” exercise program.

Thanks for the info. Chronic low back pain is so unpredictable. I can workout and feel great and otherdays it flares up. I also can be totally inactive and still get on and off again pain. I think losing about 10 pounds around mid section and learning how to build a strong core may help me. I’ve had times though where sneezing can actually “throw out” my back. I live in the Southern Californai/Los Angeles area if anyone knows a good movement/strength specialist.

Alwyn Cosgrove’s facility “Results Fitness” is located in Santa Clarita. I’m not sure what part of LA/Southern Cali you are located at and I know the traffic in that area sucks, but his place would be one I would highly recommend. If he is located too far away, you may want to contact his facility to see if they would recommend another one closer to you.

LevelHeaded, do you know of any qualified movement specialist and performance/strength coaches in NC, or where there located?


[quote]Kenshin88 wrote:
LevelHeaded, do you know of any qualified movement specialist and performance/strength coaches in NC, or where there located?


Sorry. I do not personally know of any coaches in NC off the top of my head. If I think of one, I will be sure to let you know.

I also, used to suffer from back pain. Luckily for me I found out that I was not training my glutes correctly. Here is a great article which you should immediately implement into your training regimen.