T Nation

Spinal Disc Herniation - Training Advice?


#1

Hi all,

First post here, but directly to the point: I have been diagnosed with disc hernia - two confirmed, and one in progress. Now, the first two are in the lower spine, so they aren’t that much problematic, according to the doctors, but the third one is developing and it’s near to the spinal channel, where all the nerves are coupled.
While I don’t have major pains or discomfort, two doctors have advised me to stop doing exercises like deadlift, overhead press and generally everything that puts the spinal backbone under pressure.
Otherwise, they say, I risk partial paralysis, etc, shall I continue to lift.

Now, I don’t really want to give up deadlift, as it’s quite possibly the greatest exercise I can think of, besides, it’s helping alleviate the pain I have from couple of vertebral spurs close to the neck :slight_smile:
My question is: what alternative exercises could replace deadlift and overhead press, in order to protect the discs?

I have tried Trap Bar so far and it works great, besides, I can pull about 30 kg more than the 150kg max deadlift I can pull off. I’m 1.84 and my weight is about 85 kg.

P.S. I take no medication at all, barely any basic BCAA for recovery only.
Thanks in advance.


#2

You are trap bar deadlifting 180kg even though

And if you continue to do so you

And yet you still want to

… Wtf


#3

I have written at length about how I am rehabilitating and training (deadlift and squat variations included) with disc herniations here. 5/3/1 & Back Injuries
I will sound like a jerk here though: I believe my experience and advice will be for nought but I have some bizarre compulsion to help people with my condition.


#4

I have no ‘protoplasm’ in my bottom 2 discs according to neurosurgeon showing me the MRI. No longer do those things for concern of more damage up the spine.

Would suggest you think purposely on how important dl and press are compared to being able to function the other 98% of your life that you aren’t lifting.

You might try step-ups and 1 hand press for exercises, however.


#5

Oh, by the way, my herniations are touching nerves and I’m not crippled, though I have irritated nerves with no damage. How much pain or dysfunction you experience depends on where is the herniation in the disc and the size of it. This is not one-size-fits-all matters. That’s why not all discs require surgery. You really need a good physical therapist and physiatrist or orthopedist who will not simply say “don’t do this” or “you won’t walk again”.


#6

This here too: some exercises are not even good for all people either, regardless of spinal or shoulder abnormalities. Sure some people do just fine with standard DL’s, barbell bench and over presses, and back squats but many are not suitable for them regardless of injuries or abnormalities. I shitcanned regular deads and bar benches long before my herniations and I probably should’ve shitcanned standard bar back squats sooner. But people have literal love affairs with these exercises, even if they’re not going to compete in anything requiring them!


#7

Thanks to all who replied, especially @BrickHead - I will make sure to read your notes thoroughly.

I should have elaborated further by saying that I don’t fully trust the doctors, hence the thread. I mean, they all seem to love precautions more than it’s needed.
Moreover, I found out that many lifters actually have disc hernia and don’t even know about it.


#8

You’d be surprised how many ordinary people are walking around with herniated discs without knowing it. There was a study done on a sample of New Yorkers and it turned out 40% have herniations. What matters is if they’re symptomatic and causing pain or dysfunction. I have pain, but no dysfunction. It was much worse months ago and herniations can take up to two years to heal.

Let’s not completely downplay them though, because people have needed surgery and have had their lives affected by them.


#9

Yep listen to the docs, dont know about paralysis but you’ll have back pain the rest of your life if dont sort this now. -forget about all deads variations including trap bar for like a year until back full rehabbed.
Find a good therapist + chiro you trust and put loads of work in mobilising the spine and getting healthy. Good tips here…


#10

I had similar experiences about 40 years ago which culminated in surgery at L4 L5, and likely arose from excessive driving and heavy squats. (I understand that surgery these days is a last resort among back specialists.) At 29 I kept thinking my symptoms would subside: constant pain down back of leg, unbelievable sneezing, difficult sleeping, unbearable driving. I elected surgery after surgeon in my first visit showed me two reflexes I had lost.

I fully recovered about 8 months after surgery. Surgeon told me my discs were fully smashed. I’ve been lifting ever since and I’m just careful when a symptom returns, which has happed a few times.

I endorse Brickhead’s advice.


#11

If I got you right, then I forgot to mention I have had 5 car accidents, two of which were very severe.
Thanks to all who replied, I will be making my decisions soon.