I’ve been fighting lower back injuries since I was 16 (i’m now 29). I was diagnosed with not 1 but 4 herniated discs in my lumbar region. l2 - l5/s1. I tried many, many treatments including the new non-surgical spinal decompression which really did end up helping. I lost all but 40% of my muscle function in my lower back and my erectors are still very weak and fatigue quite quickly. If you’re having these type of issues, here’s my advice for leg workouts.
Vaccuum’s were instrumental in getting my core to be strong enough to do any type of lifting while in a standing position
I would not do any type of squating. Further damage to your discs, and sciatica are just not worth it; they can literally ruin your life. the seated position (even though you’re not actually sitting) increases the stress on your spine by over 100%
I would not do any type of Romainian or Stiff leg dead lifts as the bent position for the same reason as the squat
Being a T-Nation reader, the leg press may sound like a cop out, but it’s not. Crank up the reps and do break downs and it is perfectly effective and won’t cause you nearly as much pain. Just be sure not to let your back rond.
Monitor those discs at least once a year. Yes htat means getting an MRI.
Use Flameout. It has worked wonders for my low back pain (and no, T-Nation didn’t pay me for saying so)
Increase your potassium intake
for lower back rehab, I started with static holds on the hyper extensions. I tried to build up to 60 seconds but at the begining all I could do was 9 seconds at a time.
Find a “good” chiropractor. When you find an honest one, it really does work.
I hope this helps.
Re-read this a couple times. It pretty much mimics my experience. I would also add that unilateral work helps minimize back stress and still lets you use great movements. Take it very easy at first when you decide to progress to them. My back is quite the picture show (the specialist looked at my MRI and pretty went…wow…), sometimes I’ve had issues with these exercises when my back has been under more stress. Maybe start doing bulgarians and step-ups with bodyweight and slowly progress up through the colored dumbbells.
also, my issue was caused by a congenital curvature issue we did not know about. My lumbar essentially don’t curve. This can change things, but I can deadlift conventional now fine. Sumo is dicey for me (which I could pull much more weight with back in the day). Before tackling any big compound movement analyze technique in terms of your body. People often throw a fit if you round your upper back some, but it takes pressure of my lumbar spine for me personally and so I use it.
Be careful, progress slowly, and do your homework.