T Nation

Recent Back Surgery

Hey All,
I just recently had what is called Microdiscectomy on L5/S1. I have had this herniation/bulge for about the last 12 yrs. It finally got to the point of unbelievable pain running down my leg. Needless to say I lost 20 lbs in the last 2 months leading up to the surgery. Mostly in my lower half. I start rehab next week and have been walking for at least 30 min every day. (only thing I am allowed to do).

I was wondering everyone, including the strength coaches, what type of lifts they thought were ok to use once I am cleared to work out again. On the lower half of the body that is…

I have several of my doctor friends tell me no more squats and no more DL. 2 things I love. Also what about cleans and jerks, jerks behind the neck?

I am kind of freaked out since the doc said it was a rather bad herniation and he had to remove most of my disc, since it was destroyed.

Thanks for all of your input,

Jaso

Hip belt squats are what I started doing after my herniation, plus any upper body stuff I could do without pain. I worked single leg squats to a box as well, lowering the box as my legs got stronger.

I firmly believe that the weight training caused the release of growth hormone which has speeded up my healing by a factor of three. That and getting blood to the area. Lately dumbbell swings have been helping with the last vestiges of pain.

Did they have to fuse the vertebrae since most of the disk has been removed?

Lifts that keep the lower back neutral should be ok. Jerks out of the rack for instance. Cleans I dunno. I don’t like the recommendation of no DL or squats since they’ve just traumatized the area and weakened it. The only support you’ll have is the musculature surrounding the trauma. And now they advise doing nothing to strengthen it. This helps how?

I think you’ll have to let pain be your guide on that. High rep DL’s, really focusing on precise form might help but they might hurt.

Get blood to the area as much as possible to speed healing. Walking is really one of the best things for it. Unweighted good mornings graduating up to unweighted hyperextensions and then move up the weight and see how it feels.

I am not a doctor, just a fellow herniated disc sufferer who’s rehabbed himself.

Oh - and make sure that you cut back on coffee and keep hydrated. Lots of oils in the diet (coconut/olive/fish) helps.

lots of stretching and get your core right while working your upper body, then move onto your lower body high rep stuff. that is what worked for me, but everyone is a little different.

Here’s where I’m at with this kind of question. No harm in starting out conservative. By that I mean don’t go at lifting with an, “I gotta squat and/or DL or my training ain’t shit!” mindset. Look, if you’ve been struggling with this for 12 years and lost a lot of lower body strength then there are plenty of things you can do now to rebuild some of that strength … things that won’t compromise a healing and (somewhat) imblanaced body.

Take some time to build up your basic strength. Extensions, lunges, ball squats, hip belt squats, trap bar DL … there’s a crapload of stuff you can try. (Preexhaustion can become your best friend!) If you handle that well and really feel the need, then you can think about squats and/or DL. Personally, I’d go with front squats and movements that don’t cause spinal loading and compression. The last thing you want to do is wear down what’s left of that disc and end up bone on bone. I’d also work hard on abs and lower back extensions, but avoid anything that requires loaded flexion. (Forward bends) But that’s me and YMMV.

Time will tell. You didn’t say how old you are, what you accomplished prior to surgery or what your future goals might be, so it’s pretty hard to gauge how realistic your expectations are. I know a lot of lifters like to Doc-bash, but some of them are very good. It’s tempting to think they’re taking out their ass when they say don’t do this or that, but a lot of them get a buttload of repeat business. Most of us (lifters) like to think we’re exceptional … meaning medical restrictions should NEVER apply to us! But IMO that’s just plain stoopid. Start conservative and see how things go. If you’re half an athlete you’ll find the right path … and maybe that’ll mean squatting and maybe it won’t. :wink:

FWIW, I’ve been fused L4-S1 with 2 SS rods and 6 titanium screws for 11.5 yrs. I totally get what unfinished business means.

Cappy

Thanks Fellas,
So you know a lil back ground. I am not quite 35 but feel most under just like to tout their abilities. I am 30, I played Highschool and college Football. I have been lifting half my life. I did have my CSCS cert but felt it was meaningless to real life knowledge. I was, in my younger years, a Strength coach for a highschool. I have my stats and they are not shabby.

Since extreme pain I dropped from 210 to about 189 (at a about 10-12%bf). Like Cappy said I am half an athlete and was off pain meds in 2 days and walking immediately. I sprint, snowboard, hike do yoga and of course Love to LIFT.

PT guy said he has no problem with squats(done right…duh). The surgeon is iffy.

I just wanted to see what you all thought and if any had gone through it.

They did not fuse my back, they are hoping that what is not protected by the disc will naturally heal and fuse in time. I was planning on being back 100% with in 6 months but rather scared by the fact most of my disc is gone. The thing that kept me in my condition for so long was my ability to keep my muscle structure sound.

Thanks for the input,

Jaso

[quote]Jaso wrote:
Thanks Fellas,
So you know a lil back ground. I am not quite 35 but feel most under just like to tout their abilities. I am 30, I played Highschool and college Football. I have been lifting half my life. I did have my CSCS cert but felt it was meaningless to real life knowledge. I was, in my younger years, a Strength coach for a highschool. I have my stats and they are not shabby.

Since extreme pain I dropped from 210 to about 189 (at a about 10-12%bf). Like Cappy said I am half an athlete and was off pain meds in 2 days and walking immediately. I sprint, snowboard, hike do yoga and of course Love to LIFT.

PT guy said he has no problem with squats(done right…duh). The surgeon is iffy.

I just wanted to see what you all thought and if any had gone through it.

They did not fuse my back, they are hoping that what is not protected by the disc will naturally heal and fuse in time. I was planning on being back 100% with in 6 months but rather scared by the fact most of my disc is gone. The thing that kept me in my condition for so long was my ability to keep my muscle structure sound.

Thanks for the input,

Jaso
[/quote]

Just so’s you know, my l5/s1 was completely splooged out into the nerve channel. Had I elected for the surgery they probably would have taken most of it out. It’s coming up on 11 months since I herniated it and I’m at greater than 100% of former capacity and have been so for the past few months. Since you are 16 years younger then me, I’ve no doubt you’ll heal more quickly than I and make your 6 month goal.

Skid,
Ya I have congenital stenosis as well. And Mine did the same thing, It also pushed up a ligament up and onto the nerve. My anulus was completely shot. I was actually functional for 12 yrs with it. In the last 4 months it got bad so that I cut my squating down a ton. I had been going to my chiro(3yrs) which was helping to keep it at bay. He has this decompression machine that was supposed to pull and get it to suck back in, but in actuality made it 100 times worse. After going on it 2 times and then another 8 I could not walk, sit or stand at all with out severe, black out, pain.

Yet my chiro kept wanting to go and I finally said no. Tried 2 shots of cortisone and still nothing. The destruction that ensued was that the back of my leg became numb and still is(possibly forever). I began losing motor function and strength. And my situation worsened. Surgery was the ultimate last choice.

I often wonder how long I would have made it had I not gone on the decompression machine. How long till one day my disc did the same thing.

Thanks for your encouragement,

I will get it all back

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

B^3

Before I started he said that it may take 6-8 times on it before I notice the results. SO I was informed ahead of time. The crappy thing is when I would limp in and collapse on the floor in pain, the other patients would say… “STAY WITH IT… dont get a shot of cortisone, dont have surgery. This machine has done wonders for me.”

So it was not the chiro but the patients that actually kept me on the table/machine. And up until the machine the chiro never did me wrong.I had been using him for 3 yrs prior with out any incident.

When the lady who ran the machine(note total B!tch) looked at me on the 10th time and said you are going to do a re-eval. I looked at her and said “I can’t walk sit or stand are you kidding me???” I wanted to just punch her in the face.

Hindsight is 20/20 and like I said I have no idea if this would have happened on its own or not. I had a pretty bad herniation. I think the guys who have success are just slight ones. Mine was huge

Jaso