Injury from Trivial Exertion

Did a set of relatively heavy high-bar squats, which felt fine. I record my squats on my iPhone to monitor my form, and everything looked good - tight bracing, no butt wink. Then I reached for a 25 pound plate, and felt a tear across my lumbar region. Obviously, this is frustrating as hell, and it makes no sense. Why would heavy squats cause no problem, but grabbing a 25 pound plate mess me up? Has anyone else had this problem, that is, your heavy work goes fine, and then some small exertion injures you? If so, did you gain any insight into the problem, like muscle imbalances? Maybe it’s just because I’m an old fart (I turn 51 this week), but I hope not! Thanks

How do you know it’s torn? It could be a muscle cramping up or maybe you herniated disc. People injure their backs tying their shoes or even sneezing, the proverbial straw that broke the camel/lifter’s back is often nothing more than that, the damage to your back accumulates and eventually something small can cause an acute injury.

Actually that’s what it feels like, a severe muscle cramp. I’m just assuming it’s cramping because it’s torn. It’s not a terrible pain, maybe a 3 or 4 on a scale of 10, but my understanding is that muscles cramp when they’re damaged as a sort of protective mechanism to stop further damage.

Sounds like a QL strain. Since you were reaching, I assume your trunk was twisted a little. I tend to strain things with light weights because I don’t pay attention to what I am doing.

Very interesting, this post led me to look up the QL and this is exactly what appears to have happened to me 5-6 weeks ago. I was warmed up and 2/3rds into to my workout, it was not even DL day. Did a few sumos with 100kg to feel the form and on the third rep something got very tight in the lower back (on one side only). I actually felt it tighten over a second or so. It’s all gone now, but it happens.

I never get these injuries whilst being on a program in proper training. I do get these things when I am deloading or just messing around in the gym for a few weeks. In my experience with age these things increase as well, despite being 13 years younger than the op.

I experienced pain exactly where the two Xs are, but only on my left side.

Muscles can also cramp without being damaged. Nobody can accurately diagnose you on a forum, try rolling the area with a lacrosse ball and see if that helps. It’s not likely that you tore a muscle lifting a 25lb plate if you can squat more than an empty bar, more likely it’s either just cramped up without being damaged or you injured your spine (which would likely be a disc injury).