T Nation

Re-Occurring Lower Back Strain or Pull


#1

It seems every 3-4 months I am straining my lower back, which puts me out of commission for several days at a time. It's frustrating along with the hurt. I am sure that some of it comes from poor form (being lazy maybe). Also, I assume that it may be due to lack of core strength. Currently I do not do any specific core training. I'm not looking to get a 6-pack (I do have a bit of a keg going to be honest), but to legitimately strengthen my core to prevent injury like this.

As a side note, I play & coach Rugby. If you're at all familiar with the sport I'm a prop-forward (mainly tighthead). I know strengthening my core will also help me in this aspect.

So, to recap:
1. How do I avoid continued Lower Back injury?
2. Will core strengthening help?
3. If yes to #2, what sort of training should I add to my routine (something daily?)?

Thanks!


#2

You may have herniated/bulging discs in your lumbar spine like I do. I’ve been powerlifting, and playing football for almost 3 decades. I’ve deadlifted over 700lbs, and squated over 600 all with less than perfect form. Doing explosive movements and leaning forward too much while squatting will kill your lower back. Deadlifting with a poor center of gravity (having the bar too far from your shins) will also put a lot more strain on your lower back. Correcting these issues, dropping bodyweight and strengthening your core will improve your symptoms like they have for me.


#3

Welcome to the club.

I have the same problem. i had thought I was on top if it all until a few weeks ago when I had another episode while I was front squatting.

Im no longer squatting or deadlifting, instead doing lots of single leg work (dont tell Rippletoe). Im also incoorperating core work including planking, ab wheels, renegade rows and turkish get ups. Also activating the glutes and stretch your hip flexors. Bird dogs as well.

Good luck.

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#4
  1. Constant mobility work and stretching, get a foam roller if you don’t already have one and use that daily on every part of your back, and your IT band. Im sure there is instructional stuff somewhere. Should help with your rugby too. Also as others have said, work on your form. If your not doing the lift with good form, it’s too heavy. Perfect your form for squats and deads, and it may mean a drop in weights but your progress from there on out will be much better and healthier.

  2. Core strength will absolutely help. You don’t have go all P90x. Just doing situps and other stuff.


#5

It is hard to know…

It might be that your abs aren’t activating properly. So you are hanging off your lower back instead of holding your core stable. It might be that you lack flexibility in your hips so the lumbar spine is moving more than it should. It might be that you are using your lower back instead of your ass (e.g., to lock out deadlift). It might be… All of that.

Posting vids of your lifts would help.

If you yourself think it is probably due to bad form then, well, it is possible that your form is even worse than you thought.

Maybe it is time to spend some time getting the movement patterns good?


#6

Oh…

I hurt my back a lot, too. In my case… I’ve needed to work on all of the above…

I’ve replaced back squats with front squats in the past (now I’ve just returned to back squats - but this time high bar Oly style)
I’ve replaced loaded rows with inverted rows
I’ve switched to sumo deadlift (keeping the back upright)

Just now… I’m getting serious about activating my abs. Because I’ve never really done abs…

It is hard to know without seeing your movement pattern… And your relative limb lengths etc…


#7

[quote]orothlain wrote:
It seems every 3-4 months I am straining my lower back, which puts me out of commission for several days at a time. It’s frustrating along with the hurt. I am sure that some of it comes from poor form (being lazy maybe). Also, I assume that it may be due to lack of core strength. Currently I do not do any specific core training. I’m not looking to get a 6-pack (I do have a bit of a keg going to be honest), but to legitimately strengthen my core to prevent injury like this.

As a side note, I play & coach Rugby. If you’re at all familiar with the sport I’m a prop-forward (mainly tighthead). I know strengthening my core will also help me in this aspect.

So, to recap:

  1. How do I avoid continued Lower Back injury?
  2. Will core strengthening help?
  3. If yes to #2, what sort of training should I add to my routine (something daily?)?

Thanks![/qu

Your problem is THAT YOUR A PROP FORWARD. :slight_smile: props are notorious for having tight hamstrings/ calves. I’m guessing that most people can’t imagine and picture what goes on in the deep dark spaces of the scrum, rucks and mauls. There is more stress going on your back in a scrum/ collapsed scrum than you will ever put on your spine in the gym, even lifting with bad form. Props are being shafted from front and behind and have tremendous opposing forces on the spine so there is an excessive amount of compression on the entire spinal column. As you know the front row of a scrum absorbs incalculable amounts of stress at set piece time. With an almost immovable force at one end and locks shoving you into the immovable force with all their might.

Do you have access to a inversion unit, so that you can DE COMPRESS your spine. Don’t be surprised if something as simple as spinal decompression could alleviate your problem. I’ve Been around rugby for better than 40 years and have seen 000’s of front rowers not have enough flexibility… it’s the nature of the amateur guys. The Big Grunts don’t like to stretch and avoid it like the plague. How is your sprint, can you?.. do you suffer tight hamstrings, how much scrumming practice do you guys put in?.. how serious a competitor are you, do you train outside your team practice sessions. Do you rehab after each game or are you straight in to the beers?..

First and foremost look into the flexibility of your pelvic region. Can you touch your toes, stand tall and arch backward, how does that feel on your abdominal’s and hip flexors?.. Props are also notorious for having a muscular imbalance of the anterior/ posterior hip due to the demands of your position. So make sure you are stretching your abs and hip flexors 2x daily also.

As suggested a foam roller would serve you well. What is your season, when does the new season start?.. do you usually follow an off season strengthening plan?.. do you have a strength and conditioning guy at your club?..

Go and check out these boys… I am sure you know of the New Zealand All Blacks… these guys are currently props in the AB’s test squad and you may of heard of them already… The FRANKS brothers… just google Ben or Owen Franks. These guys are both over 6’ tall and weighing in at around 260 a piece. They have a video on youtube there about buying a cross fit franchise so you will see them actually working out as well… I think that you could gleen some little insights in to the daily life of a professional international prop forward and pick up some useful tips on body maintenance and strengthening.

Talk to me more mate I am happy to help out a rugby brother the best I can, even if your a front row plop. Except for a few years as a kid playing 6 and 7 I was always a 12, 13, 15 but with the mentality of a 1 or 3 :slight_smile: at that time I just didn’t have the bulk to match my aggression but never let that stop me trying to trample guys into the ground.

The super 15 semis start this weekend in the southern hemisphere… down to the top six so if you can hook up to that you will see some of the elite players in the international game going at it… I am in Minneapolis and it starts at 2.30 am tomorrow morning with 2 games sat and one sunday am.

Then don’t miss the quadrangle tourney starting mid Aug… nz,sa,aust and argentina this is a NOT to be missed event for 14 weeks or so of REAL RUGBY…

Hope some of this helps, rugby brothers gotta stick together so don’t hesitate to ask more questions if needed. rugga rugga rugga beer beer beer…


#8

I had the same problems. I concentrated a lot on static stretching of the hamstrings (as it seems my lower back took some of the strain that these should have). Stretching the hammies, and lots of glute work and (touch wood) it’s been pretty good ever since!


#9

Thanks to everyone for the awesome responses. I appreciate it. Seems there are some themes throughout all the advice, the biggest one is the stretching aspect. I have foam rollers at the gym. I’ll get on a good routine.

kiwiinmn - Thanks for the detailed understanding of what my body has been through. I’ve played for 13 years. I also played college football (gridiron). I’m vary aware of your AB’s and the Franks Bros. They’re heroes of mine. I actually did CrossFit for about 5 months based on their venture. You nailed a lot of things on the head. I know I’m super tight in my hamstrings. I’ve been working some on hip flexibility, but this is all new to me (at age 34…dumb…they glossed over all that crap back in my prime). Rugby here is still in a fairly primitive state. My club does have a player/strength expert. He’s great for advice. We have no post match recovery program. I don’t go nuts with the beer and partying though. Most of the time I skip back to the pool or hot tub. I am the forwards coach at my club, so I also don’t get the benefit of our training sessions during the week. So, I jump into matches cold as our reserve and then captain the B-Side. All of my training is done on my own.

I watch Rugby religiously (I have a secret stream to your “rugby channel” from sky, and a download site). Looks like McCaw is back on the Crusaders bench. It’ll be interesting to see his form after his hiatus, and see him push to make it for the Rugby Championship. In regards to Super Rugby, I follow the Crusaders and the Waratahs. I’m more of a Northern Hemisphere fan (which I know will drive you mad). I’m an Ulster supporter 1st and foremost. The Lions Tour is the zenith of my quadrennial calendar. I’m now in let down mode… we’ve got you lads up next!!!

Again, thanks to everyone for the support. I know I’ll have some follow up questions once I start. Today will be my first day back in the gym in a week after this last strain. It’s going to be pretty light, but it will be nice to be back… I miss it.