T Nation

Lower Back Injury While DLing

Hi all,

Day before yesterday I was training for MAX on Deadlifts, I tried lifting 135Kg which is my PR but failed to lockout, so I went for another attempt and bar was just 1 inch above the floor when I heard a big popping sound from my lower back , and I knew something bad has happened…

I don’t know what happened but i bent my back was definitely rounded. Went to ortho, in X-ray everything looked OK and he told me that I have torn some tissues and have given me some medication and advised not be bend my back, have to see him in 5 days…

I also had minor pain in my right hip and hamstring but its ok now. so I can say there is no sciatic pain, and i guess injury is muscular in nature.walking is not a problem actually I feel lot better when I am walking maybe blood flow something…though I have pain in seating position and 1-2 min after i get up. so I make a point of not sit continuously for more then 30 mins…
Any advice will be helpful…

I guess i will be out for some time now. will have to plan out some single joint exersise for a while I guess.

I know I was stupid, but any suggestion would be helpful.

Hey, I am sorry to hear that. My best advice is take time to rest, give the lower back a break for a few months, no deadlifts heavier than the bar.

Some people might disagree and recommend a more intensive physical therapy type program that could have you back feeling 100% in 6 weeks. Thats possible for professional athletes who have all day to work on the problem, but not us normal people.

The first time I ever did deadlifts, i did 5 or 6 sets repping out on 135 lbs, this was about three years ago. I guess my form was bad though… nothing at first… then after waking up the next day i could not reach lower than my knees. It was my right lower back, in the top of the glute. It was like a phantom injury that crept up on me. I went to the college trainer, had therapy, rolled around on the big styrofoam sausage, had electric shock treatment (god i love that shit), wore a back brace for months. But ultimately I just think it took time. About 4 months to touch my toes again, and i still feel it now sometimes three years later, although it doesn’t effect me at all. Back injuries are really for life, even “just” pulled muscles.

Don’t try to power through it, take your time and let it heal. Lots of stretching, nothing heavy on the lower back, and use the time to target other areas you might see as week points.

Best of luck

Indeed, the only reasonable thing to do is to just rest until the pain and discomfort is completely gone. If you feel like going to the gym then you should definitely do so, just be very careful so that you don’t do anything that can aggravate the injury.

Thanks for the reply migrantworker & Tmmmey…yep I think rest is my best option, pain is less now but still there…I am feeling ok but still planning to give a week off and then beginning with light upperbody and some things like lungues and light jogging…I guess i need to keep my diet perfect so I do not gain any fat which i lost in past months. Is there anything i can do to maintain muscle mass ??

I can say with confidence that I am pretty experienced on low back soft tissue injury through experience.

I tore soft tissue in my back and went on a year long marathon of reinjury until I finally figured out how to rehab it and come back strong.

This is what I suggest you do.

1.) Consider seeing a good chiro to make sure your pelvis or lower lumbar spine region isn’t subluxed which may have caused the problem or may be an after effect from the problem.

2.) Take a week off and begin supplementing with fish oil like it’s going out of style if you aren’t already.

3.) Now begin to focus on having incredibly strong core muscles. I suggest beginning core planks (start with the right oblique (on your side) for 30 seconds then roll to the push up position on your elbows with no rest for 30 seconds then to the left oblique, repeat for a total of 3 sets of 30 seconds, build this up over time to 60second reps w/ someone placing a weighted plate on you), do these three times a week.

Then in the future when you go to squat and deadlift, mimic the feeling of your planks in your lift. The cores should be like a fucking brick wall when you move that heavy iron.

4.) Once the acute phase is over (no more pain) begin light stretching. Stretch your hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, lumbar and hamstrings again. Incorporate this into your routine, it’s nice to do right after your planks. DON’T SLACK ON THIS!

5.) Add dynamic ab work back in but KEEP YOUR PLANKS.

6.) Start deadlifting and squatting again starting with the bar but progress using 10-20lbs additions per week until you eventually get back to where you were. (Let the back PAIN go completely away before loaded training again which will be 1-2 weeks.) I suggest you really analyze your technique and make sure there is absolutely no lumbar flexion going on, ever, you should be arching your whole back so hard that you’re sore the next day, goes for squat and deads (eventually you will learn to keep the lumbar arch while letting the upper back curve on your deads).

7.) After the 1-2 week acute phase start to foam roll the sensitive area on your low back routinely until it is not a sensitive area anymore.

I’m not a strength coach, nor hold any professional title in the field but do compete competitively and this is what has worked for me in the past.

Good Luck!

Thanks for the advice IronSyde, This really looks great and i can definitely work on these lines…

Damn, Ironsyde, that shit was brilliant!

Had the same thing happen to me. Had the pop in the back, but a lot more damage in the hamstring, calf and plantar fascia.

One thing I noticed was when I did some stationary cycling (about one month after injury), the pain vanished. Stretching and slowly adding weights, along with strengthening my obviously weak hammies was my ticket.

OP, you’ll be alright. Follow Ionsyde’s advice.

I wanted to add something to this post that I’ve learned so far:

  • Stretch your hips, glutes and hams religiously. That includes hip flexors, hip external rotators, hip internal rotators, etc. Chances are you’re tight in your hips, also stretch the hams and glutes as said. Just get on the floor once a night while watching tv or whatever before bed and get it done. (listing this again, because it’s so important)

  • Do rounded lower back training (yes I know), many will tell you never to do this but hey it helped me a lot. I started training rounded low back movements and ever since I have not had one reinjury and I’m back to deadlifting over 500lbs past my previous record.

I do 45 degree hypers where the pad supports me in the abs for support, I do them SLOWLY and CAREFULLY for high reps like 15-20 per set. I’ve found it’s extremely essential for prehab, rehab and strengthening. I asked myself: Do people walk around every day NEVER rounding their lower back? Hell no, that’s just not real life, your back flexes naturally. Strongmen of old rounded low back while lifting heavy, many PL’ers round their low back while pulling deads. It’s also insurance for when your form slips on a heavy pull for example, and you know it will at some point between now and the rest of your life. I strongly believe this has helped me immensely.

  • Get some A.R.T. done, just do it, it’s well worth it. I thought it was bullshit until I actually forked over the cash to do it and it actually helped me a ton.

  • Eventually you will get back to heavy weighted ab work. But doing heavy ab work while trying to keep a pelvic tilt and isolating the abs? No way, your body works as a whole, doing heavy roman chair situps, heavy leg raises. Your heavy squats and deads and overheads should take care of the lot of it. You can stop doing the planks by now, they’ll only get you so far.

  • Don’t bother foam rolling over your lower back, just get A.R.T., it’s worth it and it’s just that damn helpful.

Again, these things are some of the most important factors to MY recovery personally looking back at the whole picture, hope they work for you. Oh, probably the most important thing, don’t give up on your body, it will recover once you listen to it and figure it out. Good luck for whoever is injured.

can I just ask, whats A.R.T?

if you can feel an improvement, you must be doing the right thing. like you said, slowly start exercising the back again, make sure you stretch it out before and after and throughout the day if possible. research has shown exercise to be the best single treatment for low back pain. x-rays and MRI scans show a lot of false positives and negatives, so dont always go by what they say. keep up with what youre doing, some pretty good info going on here, but just do what you feel comfortable with and lemme know how your progressing.

thanks ironsyde thats pretty awesome post. I am back again deadlifting and was able to deadlift 110 KG for 5 reps. haven trained any singles yet dosent seem to be ready mentally.

Here are few things I did

  • first I paid lot of attention to my posture. I used to sleep on my side and have been sleeping on my back with a small pillow beneath my knees.

  • worked on exercise like OH squats, Lunges in all 3 planes, single leg RDL

  • Ditched back squats in favour of front squats.

  • Doing spinal decompression few times a day esp after long hour of sitting and after every workout.

  • Doing what Dr. Stuart Mc Gill suggests : www.acefitness.org/pdfs/LowBackStabilization.pdf

  • Also improving mobility in thoracic spine has helped me a lot.

  • Doing trigger point therapy on lower back using tennis ball.

Regarding Round back training I read an article on crossfit journal “yin and yang of back training” and it also advocate light training with rounded back.

A.R.T means “active release technique” Unfortunately, there is no A.R.T practitioner where I live…

My main concern for now is lengthening my hip flexors.

I was looking other day on some yoga stuff on scott sonnon site, and thought it maybe helpfull.