T Nation

Injured Lower Back?


#1

Hey I recently pulled my back a little at the gym. Here's how it happenned:

Started my workout with 15 minutes of sprint intervals on the treadmill, followed by a 15 minute full body stretch. Moved on to squats, and then deadlifts. On the last set of deadlift as I was putting the bar back on the ground, I felt a little stretch in the lower extremity of my back.. the muscles around the tailbone of the spine right above the glutes. Started to stiffen up a little, I thought it was noting. Did a few sets of reverse hyper extensions, and that I think made it worse. I might add that I had worked out my chest and back the previous day.

Anyway, went home, and iced it for 10 mins. Iced it again after 2 hours, for 10 mins. It stung a bit as I iced it, and stung even more after icing. While changing, I noticed a bright red spot where I had placed the rectangular ice gel pack.

The redness has gone down a bit, but the soreness and stifness is still there. I wonder what would be a good time to start working out again. I believe it takes 6 days for your lower back to recover completely. I've been taking Iboprufen, 400mg twice a day, for the last 3 days. Should I continue taking it? I have seriously pulled my back once, it happenned years ago, due to heavy seated cable rowing righ after heavy deadlifts.

What are your thoughts and recommendations? Sorry for the long post, but this little mishap has really put a dent in my training. I really appreciate your feedback. Thanks.


#2

I pinched a nerve in my lower back 3-4 months ago. Lower back is serious business, through experience, my best recommendation is to lay off ALL lower back work. Do a lot of stretching and icing, and give it a rest. Once you do start doing lower back work again, start off slow.


#3

according to dr staurt mcgill, if you are going to stretch work on the hips and shoulder and do not stretch a stiff back in an attempt to increase flexibility. a flexible spine is an injured spine.


#4

Exactly 6 days to recover? I would not trust the source of that information. Recovery time varies a lot. For example, some studies suggest that people who recover slowly can take up to 3 weeks to fully recover (including IIB fibers).

Regardless, you are doing WAY too much for your lower back to handle in 1 training session. I'm not at all surprised that it hurts. Get it checked by a doctor. Before you start training again, you need to get a properly designed training program. Sprinting is a very challenging lower back exercise, as are squats, deadlifts, and hyper extensions.

Don't combine more than 2 of those in 1 workout and in my opinion no one with a half decent squat or deadlift should ever do those 2 exercises in 1 session. They overlap the exact same muscle groups, with the deadlifts adding a few more. Doing one or the other has already blasted every motor unit you are going to be able to hit for your thighs, hips, and mid-section.

There are a number of good programs on the site that should suit you far better than what you are doing.


#5

I'm not an expert by any means but just speaking from my experience. To say you 'pulled' your lower back means nothing in terms of understanding your problem. Any number of things could have happened and you need to know exactly what's wrong. If it's just muscle or ligament related you've got nothing to worry about. Just back off anything that hurts for a few weeks. If you suspect disc problem get a CT scan.

In the meantime, if you suspect disc trouble you can put yourself in neutral spinal traction periodically. Traction can help a disc shrink back into place or at least shrink enough to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve:

  • Hang from a pull up bar holding plates between your feet. Hold as long as possible.

This spinlal hyperextension has a 95% chance of being good for a disc injury and a 5% chance of being bad. It all depends on if the disc is bulging to the rear or not I believe:

  • McKenzie extensions. Start on forearms and so long as there's no pain rise slowly and up onto palms. I'd probably suggest getting your scan results and seeing someone who knows what they're talking about before this one though.

Obviously what is called 'core' work is going to make a big difference. But there's also the issue of muscular imbalances which almost always lead to a disc injury to begin with. You need to understand your own imbalances and how they effect your spine/posture and everything else about your body. Commonly people who've suffered disc injuries have tight hip flexors which pull the top of the pelvis forward creating excess arch in the lumbar. Foam rolling and stretching hip flexors can help this and correcting the imbalance via activating and strengthing the glutes in particular.


#6

Eek!!


#7

Omg man, Im getting a little sore just looking at that warm up.

Anyway, it sounds an awful lot like a torn connecting muscle. Now im no expert but if you can "see" the affected area it generally means bleeding or extreme swelling.

What color is the area? Purple or bright red?


#8

I'd suggest you leave it alone until it feels somewhat better.
Then, when it feels somewhat better, practice your movements (squat, deadlift etc) with just the bar.
Or a broomstick if you've got one.
See how it feels.
If it feels a bit stiff, like it needs to be mobilized then keep doing the movements until they feel mobilized.
Even if it takes a few workouts.
If it hurts then stoppit.
If it feels good then add weight.
Gradually.

Generally:

Don't stretch before lifting weights.
Mobilize instead.
Don't stretch or mobilize your lumbar spine (since that area is meant to be stable not mobile).
Check out 'hip extension' vs 'back extension' and be sure to hold your lumbar arch on the former and not weight the latter.
Make sure you hold your lumbar arch lowering deadlifts (and drop the last couple inches if you can)
Dump any kind of back flexion exercises you have (e.g., crunches, sit ups, back extensions) and train for stabilization instead.

(at least that is what did when i hurt my back and it seems to be working for me thus far fingers crossed)

I hope you feel better soon.