T Nation

Recovery from Pulled Lower Back Muscle


So Last Monday (May 18), I was doing 3x5 squats at 275 lbs for volume (I'm using the Texas Method right now and it's a weight I've done 5x5 before) and by the second set on the last rep, as I was driving my hips up, I think I turned my exercise into a good morning because I neglected to keep my chest up, and I heard a crack in my back as I was squatting the weight up. After I reracked the weight, the lower left side of my back was stinging. It hurt to sit down or bend over. I didn't attempt the last set because I knew something was wrong. In between finishing up my workout with the Bench press, I foam rolled my back out and did some spinal twist exercises.

I understood that one of the reasons this occurred was because the day before I did sprints and some running with my friend which in turn had some heavy impact on my lower back.

Anyways, I went out to get Aleve after the workout and that has been doing me justice for a while.

But today, as of May 24, I still feel a small pain in the same area, but manageable. I've been taking Aleve since the day the pulled muscle occurred. I'm only able to bend over if I bend my left knee a little bit; this doesn't cause any pain but if I bend over with a straight leg, it stings my lower left back. I haven't squatted or deadlift since that day I tweaked my back as I'm afraid of irritating it anymore.

However, I'm also afraid of losing the strength I gained from squatting and deadlifting. I made much progress from squatting 185 lbs to being able to 1RM 315 lbs and now this tweaked lower back is preventing me from making any progress.

I also have a few other questions other than the title above:

Is there anything I can do to keep my strength? Would lunges, leg presses, and leg extensions be suitable?
I want to know what I can do in the time being to keep my strength at least while recovering from this lower back tweak.
And should I just wait until my lower back feels entirely alright before attempting squat and deadlift again? My workouts feel so empty without them.

I appreciate any of your answers!


I would give the Starr Rehab Protocol a try.


I did this once too deadlifting. I did a lot of leg extensions and squatting 135 after some time off (couple weeks). I worked with 135 for a month or two, then 225, then 4-5 months later 315, and soon after 405. I learned to use better form and within 9 months was stronger than before. My other lesson was to deadlift less often and focus on squat more.

Almost everyone has disc problems and herniations, whether they know it or not, so popping one sucks but it is not the end of the world or the end of lifting.


If the pain stayed within just your back and did not radiate into your butt, hip, or down the leg then it is probably just a strain of your paraspinals. Wait until your back is pain free before performing squats and deadlifts again. Light hamstring and piriformis stretching are good for calming down tweaked paraspinals since they have insertions on the pelvis which can cause tilting and directly effect the paraspinal musculature which also has insertions on the pelvis.

I would also recommend performing a quadruped rock back stretch to give your paraspinals a light stretch. You can try foam rolling however sometimes foam rolling backfires and makes people tense up and guard even further. It just comes to down the personal preference.

All the exercise ideas you came up with are fine to perform. The only one I’d watch out for would be going too deep on leg press (only go as deep as 90 degrees hip and knee flexion). Good luck.