T Nation

recovering from a lower back injury

Three months ago I was squating and compressed my lowest vertabre on the right side and strained all the muscles around my lower spine. I took an entire month off training and Ihave not resumed squats or deadlifts yet because my back still hurts. What do you reccomend for rehabilitation and do you like the manta-ray deice, cause i heard i’s good for relieving pressure on the lower back.

The Manta Ray does NOTHING for the lower back. It can help alleviate pressure to the upper vertebrae in people who are particularly bony, and distribute the weight over a larger area, and help people who have trouble placing the bar correctly. But that is ALL it does. You still need to carefully monitor your form.

Have you talked to your doctor? I’m assuming that you’re working w/ a medical specialist who can help you with it. If you’re trying to do this on your own, it may be too difficult.

I hurt my low back about the same time as you and have also stopped all training. Mine is a little too tender still for a qwackapracta so I have been hanging for extended periods (with my legs curled up as advised in a T-mag article) and taking Vitalzyme. This is helping but it sure is a damn slow process.

Have you seen a doctor? If you haven’t how do you know what you have damaged in your back? I say this not to critisize you, but to make sure that you have your problem diagnosed correctly. Next, why did you injure your back squating? You should know this, because 1. you don’t want to make the same mistake again and 2. you may have a larger problem, ie. muscle imbalances, inflexibility, overuse. As far as rehabilitation, don’t do it if it hurts. Next, stretch. Aviod any exercises that put much stress on your back-do benches with your feet up on the bench. Try reverse hypers. Although you probably don’t have access to a specific machine go to a back extension machine and hop on it the opposite way, ie. your head should be close to where your feet usually are. Start out with some easy sets, then work your way up to 20-25. After you can do 2-3 sets of that with no pain you can start to add some weight. You can do this with leg weights and or a dip belt-10lbs is usually a good start. Please don’t underestimate this information, this is what westside does and I have personally benifited greatly from it. You can also try hangin from a chinning bar, bring you legs up a bit (you should notice that your back flattens out) and rotate your legs slightly from side to side. There is some ev. that points this movement to decompressing the spine.

I have had two back surgeries (L4/L5, L5/S1) in the last four years. I have had several periods where I have had to stop training due to re-injuries and messing up the supporting muscles in my lower back. I would advise that you think about avoiding the squat and the deadlift for a while. Go with leg presses (careful not to round your back at the bottom) and try hyperextensions w/o weight. Do lots of ab work (except for sit-ups, to strengthen the midsection. There are also streches that some Doc in New Zealand came up with, I forget his name. I usually question any time someone says that you can heal up through streching/manipulation, but they do provide some relief when my back acts up. I know you may not want to hear this, but I would avoid the deadlifts for a while, it could make a minor injury a lot worse, no matter how good your form is. I know it’s not the same, but I’ve found that stiff-leg deadlifts with really good form tend to hurt my back a lot less than regular DL’s. Best of luck, I hope your injury heals.

Just a question on a slightly side issue. Why did your back mess up? Do you have old injuries, some kind of problem in your spine before-hand, or was it sloppy form… or was just some freak thing that you can’t explain…??? Just curious. Cheers.

I’ve had my bottom 2 discs severly herniated for almost 20 yrs. now. Did it the same way trying to squat heavy(405lbs.)all the time with bad form, also from bad form in bent over rows. I would be bed ridden for 3-7 days each time(couldn’t even take a dump cause it was too painful ro contract my stomach muscles), and when I would heal,(like an idiot) I’d go back and do it again. The last time was about 5 yrs. ago and I was in bed for 2 weeks with pain killers. The doctors wanted to operate but I got better and put it off. What you have to do is first keep your hams and hip flexors always stretched out and flexible. Then stay on top of your lower ab work. Then you can add in hypers or reverse hypers for high reps, then with some weight. Once your stable and relatively pain free start adding in other easy leg work(extensions, curls etc.)until you keep getting stronger and keep adding more movements as long as it doesn’t aggravate it. That’s what I did. Then I started squatting and doing stiff legged dead lifts very slow and controlled with perfect form and light weights and high reps(about 20). I started about a year ago and I’m back up to 20 rep squats with 225 and stiff legged DL’s for the same. Ocassionally I’ll try to go heavier in the 4-6 rep range but my back starts to feel a little shaky. So what I do is use pre exhaust movements to make it harder. Also be careful when doing leg presses, never let your butt round up of the pad, keep your back flat against it even if it cuts down your range of motion. Even though a lot of people insist on the leg press being safer for you back then squatting I have to disagree. I’ve reherniated my discs several times trying to go too deep and too heavy. Good luck.

Lots of Reverse Hypers and Hanging Leg Raises. They will both help in decompressing the spine.

Thanks for all the tips. I think my form just got sloppy. It was kind of a freak thing I was still warming u with aprox. 60% of 1rm and felt a pinch. Five min later that pich became agonizing pain.