T Nation

Low Back Strain and Training


Dear T-Nation,

Through an unfortunate mishap today at the gym, I strained my lower lumbar muscles on the left side today. To be more specific, I grabbed the 95 lb dumbbell thinking it was an 85, and so I ended up doing dumbbell DL's with a 95 lber in my right hand and an 85 lber in my left hand. I was doing 3 x 8 per Waterbury's Big Boy Basics and midway through the second set my lower left back gave out. At that point I stopped lifting, foam rolled a bit, then headed home for some Advil and rest.

I have been making great progress in body composition--increased muscle mass/lower fat--over the last two weeks since I started and I really don't want to regress or stagnate. After an incredibly busy semester at school, I was looking forward to using this summer as an opportunity to take care of myself physically and improve body comp substantially.

Does anybody have any experience with this sort of injury? How long does it take to heal? Clearly I won't be getting back to things like DB dead's for at least a week, likely longer, but online sources give estimates as varied as 48 hours and as long as 6 weeks for a lumbar strain. Any insight into how long I should expect would be welcomed. For what it's worth, I don't think the strain is that severe.

The only exercises I can think of that won't put any strain at all on my lumbar area are dips and chin-ups. So I was thinking of hitting those hard in place of BBB and going on a modified V-diet to compensate for my loss of cardio--I have been doing two to three rounds of Tabata's after most lifting sessions, and I think progress would stall if I failed to compensate via diet. On that note, if anyone has any suggestions for cardio that don't involve straining the lower back in some way (running/biking/jumping rope all do), they would be more than welcome.

General thoughts? Suggestions? Similar experiences?

In progress,


Low back strains vary a great deal. The 48hr to 6 weeks estimate is about as close as anyone can get. All execises include the low back........rehab should be the priority.


Focus on light core work, walking and any upper moves well tolerated. I would question your form if your lumbars just "gave out".

Be sure to get some fish oil and stay active per examples above. Good luck on recovery.