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Rehabbing/Strengthening my Spinal Stabilizers?

In Dave Tate’s Periodization Bible, he talked about when his wife started powerlifting, they made her do exclusively core strengthening exercises like abdominal work, back hyperextensions, etc. for two or three months before allowing her to start hitting heavy weights. I assume this was to protect her back from overstressing and building a solid foundation from which to start building her strength.

I once had a pretty solid squat (always had strong hips as a wrestler) but about a year ago, I herniated a disc. I too quite awhile off of serious heavy lifting (it’s been almost a year now) and I want to get back into it.

Here is my problem. Whenever I start pushing the weight higher, I start worry about my low back. It feels unstable and weak back there and I REALLY do not want to have to deal with another herniated disc. I need to get over this problem so I can really start to build my numbers back up, but I just don’t trust it.

Here’s my question though–I would be willing to take a few months off and devote it just to rebuilding my core, but 1) I’m not sure how to go about doing that (not sure of what sort of program I’d use) and 2) I’m not sure it’s necessary.

What I mean by that is, is it possible to just throw in some back hyperextensions at the end of a heavy lifting workout and call it a day, or do I need a more exclusive session?

Any advice would be appreciated.

If you think about it, it makes sense to strengthen a rank beginner’s “core” before starting them on the lifts because a weak core will lead to quicker breakdown and form and learning the wrong techniques.

If you already are proficient in the lifts (and yes, there are a great number of people who think they are but arent), then I dont see the point in taking time off from them indefinately. If anything, simply adding additional core work alongside your lifting will have a greater benefit than core work alone with no s-b-dl.

I would be interested in this as well. I hurt my back in my early 20’s and just stayed away from heavy squats and deads. Finally pushed the back over the edge and had surgery. It is better at 50 than it was at 25. I now do alot of squats and deadlifts…but can’t get the poundages I want. I think it is a weakness in the lower back, be it from years of tip toeing around it, or from surgery, I don’t know. And I too find myself thinking about it every time I climb under a loaded bar. After surgery can you ever get the strength back?

[quote]Stronghold wrote:
If you think about it, it makes sense to strengthen a rank beginner’s “core” before starting them on the lifts because a weak core will lead to quicker breakdown and form and learning the wrong techniques.

If you already are proficient in the lifts (and yes, there are a great number of people who think they are but arent), then I dont see the point in taking time off from them indefinately. If anything, [/quote]

I am quite sure I have sound form. I took an exercise technique class that was supervised by a physical therapist for 9 years, CSCS, and (I believe he is now, though he wasn’t when I took the course last year), a Ph.D. in Kinesiology.

However, no one is perfect. maybe at some point I’ll have someone videotape me.

I considered this, but don’t I risk OVER-stressing the back. After all, I am training it as normal, but I am also adding on additional work. I wonder if this might be more than the CNS could handle and actually be detrimental.

If this is a good idea though–how should I best add this core training in? How do you suggest integrating it, and what exercises?

I do a lot of static core exercises for my back and abs…my favorite is to kneel on a swiss ball and have someone push me gently in either direction, or get a broomstick and do slow twists, …also planks and scapular retractions.

I’ve been reading a lot about lumbar stabilization lately, and it seems that the best way to optimize it is do some combination of the following:

  1. Strengthen the Erector Spinae with
    -GMs
    -Deadlifts
    -Back extensions WITHOUT HYPEREXENSION
  2. Strengthen RA / External Obliques
    -http://www.T-Nation.com/readArticle.do?id=990092
    –Use a core strengthening progression with exercises from this article. Do the drills with posterior pelvic tilt and a tight core.
  3. Stretch the hell out of psoas
  4. Work Hip Dynamic Mobility
  5. Practice Breathing techniques for squatting
    -Breath into your belly and tense your core like you’re Houdini, except you don’t want to die this time.
  6. Ensure proper glute activation
    -I recommend a 30 second glute bridge hold as a minimum for glute activation before squatting/DLing

There’s indubitably more to add to this list. Trouble is, I can’t think of more right now :stuck_out_tongue:

Hope this helps. . .

Just because I have been fighting a back issue for over 6 months now, here is some of what I have found.

I was totally inflexable, this likely lead me to problems and kept me from a quicker recovery. Hip rotators and hammies were probably my biggest issue.

My core honestly sucked, it still does. I have been training for close to 7 years and rarely trained abs the first 5, almost never my back. I have really worked on bringing it up over the past 2 years, but it’s still lagging. Some of the things that have helped so far;

reverse hypers
pull throughs
hypers
standing ab work (i love bands for this)
heavy ab work
planks

I also realized that I virtually never thought about flexing/tensing my core during big lifts. Now that I have been doing this, I am noticing a big difference. I’m sure that if I can ever take enough time off it will heal and I’ll be stronger than before. I would encourage looking at the rehband line of products, they make a very nice belt that gives great support.

The other thing that helped me out was ART both for treatment and recovery. Hope some of that helped, good luck!

Monopoly

I havent trained or played sport for 5 months now due to back problems, according to the phsyio the TVA is the most critical factor to start off with.
Like you, i am unsure about how to best start training again. I play hockey, which has lots of twisting when shooting and back extension when skating, along with rugby which is brutal (probably another 6mnths before I consider it).
At the moment, focusing on isolating the TVA and glutes comprise 80% of my training. Its very frustrating but if I want to get back to bigger numbers I know I have to put in the time now.

I think Robertson or Cressey has written a whole article on specificaly activating and strengthening the TVA.
The key ive found when trying to activate lagging muscles is repitition. Meaning as many times a day as possible!
Ive also been including military presses(just the bar) as ive found them a great way to activate the TVA and spinal support muscles in a controlled manner. Also wall pushups to start with, focusing on proper form, primarily braced core) and plan to slowly move into regular pushups. (Im aiming for a month but I may get impatient)

Once the TVA and glutes are sufficiently activated and strengthened im planning on commencing body weight squats hanging on to the rack to begin with, or rack pulls with just the bar to develop some form of conditioning in the ligaments and surrounding muscluature.
And don’t forget that training is only one part of your recovery! As outlined in neanderthal no more, you have 23 hrs in the rest of the day to fuck your back up further,
Ive become an alcoholic to compensate for the lack of sport and gym, going out drunk throwing your body around really has hindered my recovery.
Also the way you get out of bed (or into any lying down position for that matter) you should roll onto your side and then stand up.
Hopefully amongst all that crap I just dribbled there is something useful for you.
Best of Luck!