T Nation

(Post) Injury Training Program (Herniated Disc in Lower Back L5)


Just over a month ago (Mid-Feb) I discovered (through a Chiropractor) that I had a herniated disc in my lower back which had been causing me a lot of stress in the right glute and hamstring area especially. My pelvis was also out of alignment and this had apparently been brewing for over a year and close to 4 months ago (late november) something happened which triggered the pain in my lower back/glutes/hamstrings. Did not realise it was a herniated disc until February of this year, thought it was a muscular problem.

Was going to compete in the BDFPA Scottish Open in Late Feb for my first comp ever but as soon as I realised the injury I decided to pull out. I am on a chiropractic program at the moment and have been recovering relatively well. ROM is coming back in my leg and there is less pain.

Still been advised not to deadlift and squat for the forseeable future. My guess is at the earliest Late May starting light to work myself back in. Chiro said if I had competed at the competition in late Feb it would have probably increased my treatment time by up to three times.

Prior to my injury I was doing 5/3/1 and I was on my 5th cycle making good gains and not close to failure in any of my lifts. I just started going back to the gym last week and have just been a few exercises at the moment which do not put any stress on the lower back. Have been told to avoid rows/chinups as well for the time being as it has been halting my recovery.

My program at the moment is pretty shitty but it is a makeshift one. Any recommendations/critiques would be appreciated.

Day 1 (Chest/Tricep Day)
Bench (Feet on bench to avoid driving through legs): 5x10
Close Grip Bench 5x5 or 5x10
Unweighted Dips as many sets to 100 reps
DB Bench 5x10 or 5x5
Either Tricep Pulldowns, Floor Press, Other random exercise 5x10

Day 2 (Biceps/Grip)
EZ Bar Curl 5x10 or more reps depending on weight
Hammer Curls or Barbell Curls 5x10
Farmers Walks 5-6 sets around room until grip gives way
Trying to close Captains of Crush grip numerous times per day

Day 3 (Shoulders)
DB Seated Military Press 5x10
DB or BB Shrugs 5x10 (or more reps)
Incline Bench 5x10
Farmers Walks (again as not much else I can do)

There is not a whole lot I can do as I can't train legs/lower back or even upper back yet. Hopefully can start again in a few weeks. Think I will just use this time to try and increase grip strength since it is a weakness of mine and I am still able to train grip without any limitations. Doing 5x10 for a while as I have never done solely high rep stuff in my life before and think it might be a good change given that i'm injured. Squat has always been my strongest lift so hopefully it won't be that affected even without doing it in months.


I had a mild disc bulge in my lower right back and my pelvis was out of alignment as well. I was doing PT and seeing a doctor but progressing slowly. Finally I got sick of not being able to bend over and bought a foam roller. Rolled the shit out of my lower body (glutes, hams, quads, posa, calves, feet) with a foam roller and then a softball (VERY painful). It brought instant relief. I began doing that 3-4x a day along with doing 90/90 strecthes, clams, glute bridges, and some gay yoga shit like the doggie pose and lifting the back legs.

I've changed my training to more single leg movements and a 3:2 ratio of hamstring vs. quads as my hammies are sadly lacking. I believe it was this weakness, along with extreme tightness that pulled my pelvis out of alignment and put all the strain on my lower back. My right leg was actually a full half inch shorter than my left when I went to see the Physical Therapist. After four weeks of foam rolling, etc. my legs are now equal length and pain is gone.

This doesn't really answer your questions but it might help you improve faster.



Have you tried a PVC pipe yet?

Roll that sucker on your IT band and you will have a very close and personal relationship with pain.

First time I did it was for an hour. Years of tightness.


Yes I've added that to the arsenal. I think the most painful thing for me has been a baseball simply due to the smaller focal point. I have to admit I never would have believed how amazing foam rolling can be if I hadn't tried it for myself.


anyone training on crutches at the mo cud do with some tips have to have my heel broke and reset next weeek and want to keep my trainning up.


That is actually pretty helpful, I have been given various exercises to do by the chiro (Plank, Glute Bridge, Supermans) in addition to other stretches like knee to chest, straight leg hamstring stretch (with band loop) and piriformis stretch. Also have to ice my lower back at least 3 times a day and I get weekly deep tissue massages which do help. Ever since I started Chiro my ROM in my right leg has increased up to 80%, still feel pain in the hamstrings/glutes/calves sometimes but at least ROM is improving which apparently shows that my spine is improving.

I actually bought a foam roller earlier this year (in January) and arguably it is the best buy of the year for me. I always use it pre-training now and it brings great temporary relief. However, I've read (and been told) that excessive foam rolling is not too good on your muscles as foam rolling is mainly supposed to be used for loosening the muscles and increasing blood flow. There is actually an interesting EFS article that came out the other day on foam rollers here http://articles.elitefts.com/training-articles/training-with-foam-rollers/

I think you are probably ahead of me in terms of recovery as I can't see myself squatting or deadlifting for a little while. While this injury occurred in late November, I continued to do 5/3/1 until mid-February where it got to the point I could not even lift my right leg up without pain. Still managed PB's surprisingly though but if I had taken it easy I probably would have managed a fully recovery by now.

I will be sure to include some of those exercises, maybe not right now but when I feel comfortable enough to try leg work in perhaps 2-3 weeks. I think I have underdeveloped hamstrings (in comparison to my quads) so I think my main aim for my lower body will be to get my hamstrings/glutes up to par with my quads. Hopefully that will also strengthen my lower back. Will take it easy on the deadlift, I want to continue doing 5/3/1 as I really enjoy it but I may not go all out on the deadlift. I have never done single leg movements before but I will give them a shot. What kind of hamstring work are you doing at the moment, straight leg deadlift / glute ham raise / good mornings that kind of thing??


If your heel is broke I presume you shouldn't be doing any kind of training for a while. A break might actually rejuvenate you and you may feel better in the long run. Worse thing you can do is return from injury too early and suffer an even worse injury. This is happening very regularly in sports especially contact sports such as Rugby, Football, Australian Football.

One thing that you could do however is try and train your grip so that your lifts don't go down too much. I have recently bought a captain's of crush and have been giving that a bash 2-3 times per day with both hands. It is better than nothing I suppose.