T Nation

Retraining My CNS After Surgery


OK this is going to be a bit long, but I was wondering if there is any way to directly focus on training nueral efficiancy. I had spinal/brain surgery aug 28 2003 and prior to that my spinal cord was pinched severly, it was pinched to roughly 1/3 its normal size at the exit from my skull. exact condition is Chiari 1 Malformation with 2 large syrynxs(sp?, small bubbles/voids in the cerberal spinal fluid).

The condition pretty much was slowly paralyzing me, I had nerve problems and muscle paralysis and assorted other issues. Post surgery everything is now fine and Have been training since I was able to go into a gym. I have made great gains, lifted before but was unable to keep going due to the spinal issues. I am not complaining but I am wondering if there is a way to retrain my body to work better.

I have spoken with my doctor about it but he doesn't understand lifting. I can tell that my body still does not really "understand" how to work. by this I mean that my CNS is still not used to being able to work correctly, after sugery I could tell how much different things were when I got back into lifting.

I could almost feelt he nerves being able to work again like I could tell when i did a new movement because I could feel my body learning it again. I hope this make sense it is hard to explain exactly what I mean but its a strange feeling.

I have a signifigant amount of muscle mass I am as of today (bulking) 6'4" 302lbs and about 16-17% BF(mostly a guess but striations in traps and can see all 3 heads of the delt but can only see the top abs).

But I am what i believe to be relatively weak for my size I have only just gotten my 485, 495 broke ground but was not tryign to force it, DL and about 430 bench haven't maxed in the squat lately, focusing on pulling to get my lower back/hips stronger, but hit 405 for a good triple. while these are ok I feel like they should/could be higher, I train in a 3x week split with

1 leg movement DL/GM/Box Squat/ECT
1 pull Row/Pullup/Ect
1 push jerk/bench and variations/Military/Ect
if I DL I will keep the pull light or maybe use a machine to spare my back a bit.

with usually a 10x3 for one maybe hit a single after then go with 5x5 on the others or 4x6 I throw in some abs and rev hypers(magyvered on a high bench with a band on my legs) for high reps with least being sets of 15. If I am feelign beat up I will go with some very low volume like 3x3 or 2x5 on the moves and hit moslty accesory work for the day.

I guess my question is how would one go about re-training/training the CNS. are there any supps I can take, I think Vit E is supposed to help with nerve sheaths but not sure if it would help in this situation. has anyone else had a similar problem or even somethign along the lines of a limb with similar symptoms, maybe nerve impingments.

even if you just want to tell me to quit whining thats cool just trying to get some ideas on how to proceed.
try some more explosive work?, going to try and talk to an athletic trainer i.e. a good stregnth coach but I know there are a few on here so I figured I would try here first. Thanks in advance


bump for any ideas or if I am just being an idiot about things and should just keep training.


It seems that your surgery was a huge success! (Just the fact that you didn't contract acute & chronic rigor mortis is a good sign....) You are now retraining your body to do things it used to do. I think you will relearn the movements a lot faster than you learned them the first time.
Think about the process a kidlet goes through, learning to walk. (Because, at age 60, I have a 17-month-old daughter, I've seen a recent rerun of this movie.) She walked a couple of steps, then fell on her ass. Repeatedly. A few days later, she walked a few steps, then fell on her ass. Repeatedly. After several days, she could walk three meters before falling on her ass. Repeatedly. Then, she had to teach herself to turn corners, thus saving her skull a lotta wear and tear. (How the hell do any of 'em live to see age 2? They must be made of putty!) She's still improving her self-propulsion skills. Her secret: LOTSA REPS!
Teaching someone to squat is a similar process. Really, all I can do is setup the power rack so that he won't bust his butt, then watch and talk while he teaches himself to squat an empty bar. After a zillion reps, he knows where he is breaking parallel, places his feet in the same stance every time, keeps his back tight and his knees out, etc. Then, we add weight. You went through a similar process, early in your lifting, and the memory of all that is stuck somewhere in your brain. Using light, high-rep form work, you'll dig that memory out of your brain, polish it some, and, eventually, go on to do PR'S.
You are working each muscle group once/week. You may find that ALMOST all of your muscles can recover from most workouts, sooner than a week--more like 3-5 days--if you alternate exercises and alternate between high-intensity/low-rep and high-volume/high-rep workouts for each muscle group. One exception may be your "low back"/spinal erectors, where weekly abuse--plus some additional work during leg workouts--is enough fun for most of us. (Again, alternate exercises/sets/reps weekly.)
Currently, your PR deadlift is only about 13% more than your PR benchpress...? That will approach 40-50%, if you work your back as hard as you work your upper body. There are a FEW powerlifters in the superheavyweight class who can't deadlift as much as they benchpress (with a benchpress shirt on). Typically, we're talking about a benchpress specialist with a rhinoceros gut. They ain't the norm.
Strength & courage,
"Coach Joe"