T Nation

Squatting With Herniated Disk

I suffered from what I think is a herniated disk aboug 2 months ago from deadlifting. After about 2 weeks of rest, my back felt fine.

However, after I returned to squatting, I realized that everytime I finish my leg days, my back always feels sore and sort of “twingy”. After about 2 days rest, the discomfort goes awaay, and I am back to squatting after about 6 days rest. Since my back injury, I have still managed to increase my squat by 60lbs and.

My question is if this soreness/twingy feeling normal for me to feel after squatting days as someone who has a herniated disk, or am I setting myself for more injuries? Since my injury, I have really been focusing on my form and am certain that it is not bad form is not the result of this discomfort after squat days.

When you play with fire, someday you will get burned.

I did not listen to those messages my body was sending me untill it ruptured. Be smart. If an excercise hurts you, discontinue it for a while.

I currently have a herniated disc. Exercise will help to heal a herniated disc, and in fact it is strongly recommended that you continue exercising. I herniated mine the beginning of January and it’s still with me.

You don’t want to mess around with disc problems. Did you ever see a doctor about it? Do you still have symptoms? You should get this checked out. If, for whatever reason, you can’t or won’t see a doctor (e.g., lack of health insurance), then all I can say is take it slow. Do more cardio/aerobic exercise. Yeah, I know, all of T-Nation hates cardio, it eats muscle mass, yada yada yada. But cardio also helps discs to heal and that’s your primary concern right now. Do pullups and dips for upper body. Both of these, in addition to being fine exercises, will take the pressure off of your disc.

I have a herniated disk problem in my neck, C6 or C7 I think. My chiropractor believes that squatting aggravates the problem because the weight on your shoulders is compressing the spine and forcing the disk to “bulge” further

aleator

[quote]aleator wrote:
I have a herniated disk problem in my neck, C6 or C7 I think. My chiropractor believes that squatting aggravates the problem because the weight on your shoulders is compressing the spine and forcing the disk to “bulge” further

aleator[/quote]

Depends where you place the bar. The C7 vertebra is that big “knot” right at the base of your neck. If you do low bar squats, the bar should be just below that level. However, you’re still tensing the neck muscles which can also compress the cervical spine and aggravate the problem. The safer form of squatting for people with back/disc problems is the hip belt as it takes the pressure off of your spine. I’m lucky because I have one and can use it at home.

One last thing, and I may get flamed for this, but I’ll say it anyone. Spinal manipulation, meaning going to a chiropractor, is not necessarily a good idea when you have a herniated disc. Manipulation that’s too forceful can actually aggravate the problem. This is not my opinion - it’s the opinion of the Mayo Clinic. No doubt, people will disagree with this, and that’s fine. But the best thing to do is just to leave the damn thing alone and let it heal. Do what you can in terms of exercises. Do bodyweight squats. Avoid crunching or sit-up type movements as this also compresses the spine in forward flexion. Anything that causes you to bend forward too much or that can potentially round your back is your discs’ worst enemy whether your discs are injured or healthy.

[quote]Rockscar wrote:
When you play with fire, someday you will get burned.

I did not listen to those messages my body was sending me untill it ruptured. Be smart. If an excercise hurts you, discontinue it for a while.[/quote]

Yep! Listen to the guys who have experienced the same thing (including me). Don’t push it. It’s not like a broken arm or twisted ankle. Back injuries are for life. Lots and lots of rest are the best right after the injury, then SLOWLY build up the weights. Blew my back out over 10 years ago (lifting too much weight with bad form), still can’t go super heavy.

so is the general consensus:

if you have a herniated disk, dont squat?

I do believe I saw a mention of hip belt squats earlier in the thread. You could also do pistols.

[quote]sloh wrote:
so is the general consensus:

if you have a herniated disk, dont squat?[/quote]

IF you are hurting, avoid squat deadlift and bent over rows. (If you have lowback issues) Upper would be different I guess. I only have experience with L4 and 5, the two largest discs. Look at my profile to see the MRI.

If you aggrevate the disc, back off for a while then slowly work back into it.

The problem is spinal loading. Concentrate less on weight but more on form and control for a while. Lunges have helped me lighten spinal loads.

[quote]Rockscar wrote:
sloh wrote:
so is the general consensus:

if you have a herniated disk, dont squat?

IF you are hurting, avoid squat deadlift and bent over rows. (If you have lowback issues) Upper would be different I guess. I only have experience with L4 and 5, the two largest discs. Look at my profile to see the MRI.

If you aggrevate the disc, back off for a while then slowly work back into it.

The problem is spinal loading. Concentrate less on weight but more on form and control for a while. Lunges have helped me lighten spinal loads.
[/quote]

i usually don’t go up in weight now until i can do 7+ reps with the current weight. it just seems like no matter how slowly i work back into squatting, i will always aggravate it. i always feel the discomfort the day after and i assumed that since the pain goes away in about 2 days, it’s fine for me to squat again.

sucks that i might have to find other exercises to replace squats.

I’m glad someone brought this up. I have been seeing a chiro lately with lower back pain. Apparently I have one of those “subluxations” or whatever. I basically got a fucked up lower back that hurts when I squat or dead or row without a chest support.

#1. Can I heal, or do I have to put up with this shit for the rest of my life? Will isolateral exercises help me out?

#2. For the moment I have eliminated squats and deads. What exercises can I use to keep me from wasting away?

Today i worked legs. I did single leg bodyweight squats, leg extensions and leg curls. I know the latter two suck, but I’m running low in ideas.

[quote]Rockscar wrote:
sloh wrote:
so is the general consensus:

if you have a herniated disk, dont squat?

IF you are hurting, avoid squat deadlift and bent over rows. (If you have lowback issues) Upper would be different I guess. I only have experience with L4 and 5, the two largest discs. Look at my profile to see the MRI.

If you aggrevate the disc, back off for a while then slowly work back into it.

The problem is spinal loading. Concentrate less on weight but more on form and control for a while. Lunges have helped me lighten spinal loads.
[/quote]

Mine is also at L4-5. Saw your MRI. My, you have a big one! How’s the rehab coming? Mine has been lots better after the steroid epidural. I’m optimistic that I can avoid surgery.

I tried some light squats with a bar and oddly they don’t hurt. I can do complexes with a light bar that use power clean, GMs, and squats, and not aggravate anything. But I still won’t go heavy with a bar. Not sure how heavy I’ll go with the hip belt.

Right now is a good time to focus on upper body using pullups and dips. I’ve been riding my bike lots, and plan to continue riding even more. Riding my bike is not only friendly on my back but I really enjoy it. Walking and elliptical machines are also good.

I add intensity to walking by cranking up the incline and using Heavyhands - a really great idea that died out. Save the running for later.

[quote]baretta wrote:
I’m glad someone brought this up. I have been seeing a chiro lately with lower back pain. Apparently I have one of those “subluxations” or whatever. I basically got a fucked up lower back that hurts when I squat or dead or row without a chest support.

#1. Can I heal, or do I have to put up with this shit for the rest of my life? Will isolateral exercises help me out?

#2. For the moment I have eliminated squats and deads. What exercises can I use to keep me from wasting away?

Today i worked legs. I did single leg bodyweight squats, leg extensions and leg curls. I know the latter two suck, but I’m running low in ideas.[/quote]

Sounds like you may have just strained a muscle. Usually, although not always, a herniated disc will put pressure on a nerve and you’ll feel pain radiating to another part of your body.

For instance, at the L4-5 level, which is what I have, and also at L5-S1, the disc puts pressure on the sciatic nerve and you have pain running down one or both legs. I had pain down the entire back of my leg and it hurt to walk, and even hurt to lie down unless I was in a specific position.

As far as exercises, I’ve already recommended pullups and dips. Try lunges for your legs. Don’t worry about wasting away - worry about healing. By healing, you’ll live to train another day.

[quote]sharetrader wrote:
I do believe I saw a mention of hip belt squats earlier in the thread. You could also do pistols.[/quote]

With pistols, you need to be careful not to go too deep or else you’ll round your lower back, which will aggravate the disc. Someone with tight hamstrings should also be careful with pistols because tight hamstrings will also cause the lower back to round.

In fact, I blame my injury on tight hamstrings, which caused my lower back to round while I was lifting, and the disc went splat.

[quote]MikeTheBear wrote:
baretta wrote:
I’m glad someone brought this up. I have been seeing a chiro lately with lower back pain. Apparently I have one of those “subluxations” or whatever. I basically got a fucked up lower back that hurts when I squat or dead or row without a chest support.

#1. Can I heal, or do I have to put up with this shit for the rest of my life? Will isolateral exercises help me out?

#2. For the moment I have eliminated squats and deads. What exercises can I use to keep me from wasting away?

Today i worked legs. I did single leg bodyweight squats, leg extensions and leg curls. I know the latter two suck, but I’m running low in ideas.

Sounds like you may have just strained a muscle. Usually, although not always, a herniated disc will put pressure on a nerve and you’ll feel pain radiating to another part of your body.

For instance, at the L4-5 level, which is what I have, and also at L5-S1, the disc puts pressure on the sciatic nerve and you have pain running down one or both legs. I had pain down the entire back of my leg and it hurt to walk, and even hurt to lie down unless I was in a specific position.

As far as exercises, I’ve already recommended pullups and dips. Try lunges for your legs. Don’t worry about wasting away - worry about healing. By healing, you’ll live to train another day.[/quote]

so if i dont have pain radiating down either leg, that means its not an herniated disc?

[quote]sloh wrote:
MikeTheBear wrote:
baretta wrote:
I’m glad someone brought this up. I have been seeing a chiro lately with lower back pain. Apparently I have one of those “subluxations” or whatever. I basically got a fucked up lower back that hurts when I squat or dead or row without a chest support.

#1. Can I heal, or do I have to put up with this shit for the rest of my life? Will isolateral exercises help me out?

#2. For the moment I have eliminated squats and deads. What exercises can I use to keep me from wasting away?

Today i worked legs. I did single leg bodyweight squats, leg extensions and leg curls. I know the latter two suck, but I’m running low in ideas.

Sounds like you may have just strained a muscle. Usually, although not always, a herniated disc will put pressure on a nerve and you’ll feel pain radiating to another part of your body.

For instance, at the L4-5 level, which is what I have, and also at L5-S1, the disc puts pressure on the sciatic nerve and you have pain running down one or both legs. I had pain down the entire back of my leg and it hurt to walk, and even hurt to lie down unless I was in a specific position.

As far as exercises, I’ve already recommended pullups and dips. Try lunges for your legs. Don’t worry about wasting away - worry about healing. By healing, you’ll live to train another day.

so if i dont have pain radiating down either leg, that means its not an herniated disc? [/quote]

Not necessarily - it’s possible to have a herniated disc with no symptoms. The good news is, and this is what my neurosurgeon told me, if you don’t have any symptoms such as pain down your leg(s), it “doesn’t matter” that your disc is herniated.

Nevertheless, the fact that you don’t have any symptoms other than some back pain is generally a good sign and more than likely you don’t have a herniation. Note that a “subluxation” is NOT the same as a herniation. The thing with chiropractic care for back pain, if it helps relieve your pain, great.

If not, you may want to seriously consider not going. As I mentioned in one of my posts here, a chiro who does over-aggressive manipulation can actually cause more harm than good.