Hey man, i’ve been dealing with a herniated l4-l5 disc for the past year or so. it really sucks and i hope your mri’s come out alright. Ive been able to get back to heavy squatting but havent attempted heavy deadlifts because thats what i hurt myself doing. I’m going to possibly try and get back into them but i really dont wanna fuck myself up again.
You might find these two replies interesting that i received from mike stare a PT who coauthored “conquering the enemies of the spine” for T-Nation and tony gentilcore another regular contributor on T-Nation. This is some really good info hope it helps.
I think you could definitely get back into deadlifting, albeit you just have to approach it the right way. First and foremost you need to be working on spinal STABILITY, before strength.
Stuart McGill says this time and time again. Essentially TONS of planks work (prone and side planks) for time; as well as other exercises such as the Pallof Press (attached).
Also, movements like pull-thru’s would be perfect for you, as there is NO spinal load, yet you’re working the posterior chain, lots of single leg work, and I would probably throw in some isometric back extensions (for time) in there as well. This is more of a glute activation movement IMO.
Rack pulls may be in the picture, but I wouldn’t jump the gun too early. But just to reiterate…TONS of spine stability and single leg work. Glute activation work, foam roll (not the lumbar spine, but definitely the hip flexors, IT band, etc).
Yeah, for someone in your situation, I would steer clear of Russian Twists and anything similiar. For “healthy” backs, all the movements you listed are alright, but in all honesty I think as long as people incorporate a healthy dose of compound movements, their abs will get plenty of work.
That being said, side planks, and reverse crunches will work your obliques, as will the Pallof Press, you could also do a modified crunch (from McGill’s book).
Also, doing things like overhead walking lunges, one-arm push presses, or one arm step ups will work the abs as well…and more specifically they will all work the abs with SPINE STABILITY in mind.
Hope that helps!
Yes, you can get back to these lifts. Herniations are not uncommon - they aren’t death sentences for guys that like to lift heavy. Rather, they’re just a wake up call, and if ignored, can lead to bigger problems.
First step is to get your symptoms undercontrol by employing some of the strategies from the article.
Be sure you’ve gained a clear idea how to stabilise the lumbar spine and groove the motor patterns essential to stabilize in multiple positions (pushing, pulling, squating, lunging, rotation).
I think the best way to do this initially is to rehearse movements and lifts very frequently, with low loads.
Identify technique errors and figure out if strength or mobility deficits are to blame. Usually ankle, hip, and thoracic mobilty impairments are the most common. If you focus on this -you’ll return to painfree lifting, and even enhance your performance.
Initially after injury,I focused mostly on mobility, lumbar stabilization and repeat effort lifts with single leg variations. I remember about 1 year after the initial injury, I had my first month without any pain, and felt like I figured out how to manage my condition.
I progressed to max effort movements with vertical pulls and bench fairly quickly. Then I progressed to cycle in max effort (relative) single leg lower body (backward lunge) and LE plyos and jump training. At the beginning of each workout, I would incorporate squats and deads to focus only on technique - using light weight. I found it to be an excellent warm-up, and keep my focus where it needed to be.
After two bad ankle fractures set me back for a bit, I’m now back to using squats and deads on max effort days. This can be as little as 2 times a month, or as often as 6 times a month (very rare). Besides technique, training max effort LE lifts less frequently is the biggest change I recommend. I keep getting stronger, and my back feels fine.
Every case is different, though. But, if it’s what you love to do, do your best to reduce the risks. Be patient, listen to your body, and odds are you’ll be back to lifting heavy again -just differently! Remember the point of the article - the biggest risks are probably right in front of you (literally -you’re computer) and other daily tasks. Avoiding prolonged sitting doesn’t mean you sacrifice anything fun, right?
Best of luck.
Here is a description of the pallof press:
Pallof Press : Set up a cable so that it’s at chest-height, and stand sideways to the weight stack with the D handle grasped firmly with both hands. All youre doing is moving your hands further away from the body and then back into the chest/stomach as you isometrically hold a cable woodchop out in front of you. The idea is to resist rotation.
Sorry for such a long message but im assuming that if u have a disc issue u will want as much info/support u can get.
good luck man, let me know if you have any questions.