T Nation

Lower Back- Oops I Did it Again


#1

Like the title says, I’ve had another relapse with my lower back.

It has been 14 months since my last episode. For 14 months I avoided deadlifting and back squatting. Instead I did heaps of unilateral leg work, planking including side planks, goblet squatting and front squatting. Also started up BJJ which I feel has helped with my flexibility/mobility.

So my back is feeing better than ever and I decided to give back squatting another go. I started off with 5x5 with a measly 60 kg’s. Everything went well. I woke up next morning feeling good. That night I went to BJJ and during my warm-up I felt the dreaded irritation/pain in my lower back. The next morning I woke up in pain. I will be out of action for 2-3 weeks.

My question is should I just give up on back squatting? I have sworn to never deadlift again, but now I am considering adding back squats to this list.

I was getting so excited about back squatting again and i had very humble goal of squatting my BW for 5 reps.

tweet


#2

I’ve found 2 things of late have made my back feel amazing:

-That core exercise where you lie on your back with your legs up like you were doing a crunch, then you tilt your pelvis into posterior tilt, straighten your legs and resist getting pulled back into anterior tilt. I like the version where you hold a weight plate straight up in front of you and as you extend your legs you lower it behind you. I’m sure you know the one I mean. I do this every second workout or so.

-Good Mornings. I was scared to try them, but since adding in high rep good mornings my SI joint feels like it’s been replaced, Robocop style. The great thing about good mornings is if you brace your abs like fuck and really concentrate on keeping a good spinal position you never go into the danger zone of where your back gets hurt. The ROM limits itself.

How’s your abdominal bracing when you squat? Are you really bracing like fuck?


#3

Do you have god awful technique?


#4

Do you wear a belt?.


#5

Like they said if your bracing is weak then your core is weak I’d suggest beltless fronts and good mornings strengthen that core


#6

Thanks for the replies my friends.

I paid careful attention to my technique, but maybe I could learn how to brace better. I was using Alpha’s squat videos to help with my technique and I also wear olympic lifting shoes. I don’t wear a belt, and I didn’t think I need one if I am only squatting 60 kgs. (I can barbell lunge up to 90 Kgs for 5 reps.)

I suppose I will have to recover from this and seriously look into my bracing technique. I think it may have been the case of the “straw that broke the camels back”, as I had probably skipped a rest day here and there due to trying to fit all my lifting and BJJ into the week.

What I dont understand is that I woke up feeling good the day after squatting, it was just when I as warming up for BJJ did I notice my lower back going. Its feeling a lot better now, and should be good to go at the end of the week, although I will probably have to skip legs for another week.

I have seen various professionals regarding this pain in the past. No MRI, but an x-ray did reveal some normal degenerative changes in my lower spine. No one can really give me an answer although the last quack says he thought it was a SI joint issue, although I just think its a combination of a few things going on in my lower back. Doesn’t help that I have the worlds longest femurs as well.

Thanks again my friends.

tweet


#7

Yogi, do you have any links to that exercise?

Ive had a look around youtube and have found this which some people apparently rave about. I might try doing this every morning once I recover.

How is your back going? Are you deadlifting and squatting again?


#8

It’s basically this although I do both legs and both arms at the same time

Doesn’t look like much but if you’re doing the reps slowly and really concentrating on keeping your posterior pelvic tilt it catches up to you!

My back’s actually been really, really good lately. All I do for lower body these days pretty much is front squat and good mornings. The good mornings really have been a godsend. I actually think my horrendous mobility might be improving a little.

Definitely learn to brace. I brace like fuck when I do pretty much anything that’s going to involve my lower back. Even little things like picking a heavy dumbell up I’ll brace for.

I don’t back squat or deadlift, and don’t think I ever will again. Between the front squats and high rep (15-20) good mornings, I’ve pretty much found a way I can load my lower body up and train it heavy (the FS, not the GM) so I see no reason to take the chance and try to back squat or deadlift again. I do occasionally glance over at the trap bar like mayyyybe but I always decide against it.

Humour me - when your back heals up switch to front squatting and high rep good mornings (making sure you really brace even on the “light” good mornings). If it worked for me it might work for you.

As for the SI joint thing, a good piriformis stretch can usually provide pretty much instant relief when it tightens up.


#9

You will forgive me, but I find it curious that you’re more willing to completely give up squatting and deadlifting than you are willing to wear a belt while performing the movements simply due to the amount of weight lifted. Were I in your position, I would conclude that, due to various back injuries, there was no preset weight one needed to hit before a belt was necessary.

There is a lot of mysticism surrounding belts, and it’s silly. You don’t need to be super hardcore to wear one. The primary benefit the belt would give you is that it gives you something to brace AGAINST. Essentially, it’s a learning aid on the subject of bracing, like training wheels on a bike.

Ultimately, you gotta do what you think is right, but if you’ve tried everything else BUT wearing a belt, I would try wearing a belt.


#10

Thanks Pwnisher,

I will look into a getting a belt. Im assuming that my bracing is shit and hopefully getting a belt will help me learn this better.

Just a cheapish belt should suffice?

In other news I had seen my massage therapist this morning (who is also a champion powerlifter), and he seems to think that I have just re-strecthed some ligaments around a joint in my spine, and does no think it is a disc issue. He also recommended a belt to use with my light weight squatting.

tweet


#11

Holy sh!t the Birdman is baaaaaack! (in a good way I hope fella!).

Good to see you back on the threads.

For me, rack pulls instead of floor DL’s work for me. But higher reps (8+), lower weight still.
I’ve been holding my breathe and pushing out thru the mid section, getting 4 or so reps, then breathe out and in, reset and go again.

I throw in deadbugs too.

30sec static squat with just BW regularly for me too (throw them in when in the lift at work, or near the basins in the restrooms).

Massage & chiro work for me also.


#12

Cheers mate.

How have you been?

tweet


#13

You will most likely get what you paid for. If you end up getting one of those cheap sporting goods belts with the taper, make sure to wear the fat side against your abs, not your back. You want a large surface area to brace against.


#14

Going well mate. Good to read you are back on the threads.
Not much to report here though, same old.


#15

I remember reading something from Stu McGill where he said that he could get injured NFL players to keep practicing (playing?) with injured backs by just having them brace properly. I’ve got a bit of an L4 problem, and its taught me to brace harder than I did before I had it. I’m still working my way back up on my squats, but my form is much better for it.


#16

Any tips on bracing?
I have watched countless number of videos and I feel Im better at bracing than I was in the past but maybe not good enough.

Was reading an article by Dean Somerset the other night, and I think I have came to the realisation that I may not have the best hip structure do to back squats. Im thinking the risk/reward ratio is just not in my favour.

tweet


#17

Zercher squats have done a lot to help my bracing, probably more than anything else. As long as you keep the weight light enough to keep you from rounding your lower back, they’re hard to do wrong. I also think that they’re among the best squats (next to Goblets) to get real deep in the squat and help train a good bar path. Sure, the bar placement is different than a back squat, but I’ve found that if I treat my back squats like I do my Zerchers, I feel way better doing them. Another thing I do for bracing is suck in some air, brace myself like I’m going to get punched, and then suck in a little more air thinking about pushing the air into my obliques at the back (like my torso has a balloon in it getting filled from all sides).

I’m far from an expert, but my suspicion is that if you have the hip structure to perform a below-parallel Zercher squat or goblet squat, you probably can do back squats. It seems like its kind of fashionable among advice-givers to say that if you can’t do x then you probably aren’t physically capable of it. I’m sure its true some of the time, but I would personally exhaust all of my other options first before getting there (i.e. bracing, trying different reputable techniques, or identifying fixable mobility issues - if you’re having a lot of problems, it easily could be a combination of things too).

Low back injuries suck. I know you didn’t ask for it, but also check out the youtube video with Mark Bell and Max Aita. Aita squats in a way that is easier on the lower back than what a lot of other folks do. It’s also helped me keep my back safe while squatting.


#18

Thanks mate.

So when bracing, one should be trying to push his/her abs out as far out and as hard as possible?

tweet


#19

yeah. Basically take the biggest breathe you can and inflate your abdomen as much as possible, then tense up like you’re taking the biggest turd of your life.

Not a very nice description, I know, but it works.


#20

Ever had someone punch you in the stomach if you see it comming you naturally push and flex and make your stomach as hard as possible. Same idea