T Nation

Strained Muscle Or Disc Injury?


#1

So I screwed myself by not warming up good today. I was hitting Deadlifts and I did 245lbs for 4 sets of four, then 285lbs and 315lbs for a double, then back down to 245lbs for a set of max reps. On my set of max reps at the sixth lift I felt some sort of pain in my Upper back area. Now it hurts to bend over and let my arms dangle and sometimes hurts when I breathe in too deep. How can I diagnose Strain or Disc Injury? I suspect I strained my rhomboid or something of the sort


#2

Herniated discs in the thoracic spine are less common than in the lumbar spine cos of anatomy and shit. I’ma say this is unlikely but more stuff that points towards a herniated disc includes:

  • if coughing, sneezing or other activities that relate to increased intra abdominal pressure e.g. bracing for heavy lifting exacerbate symptoms.

  • Depending on size and location of a herniation you could possible get radiating pain away outside the primary area of injury e.g. symptoms in the distribution of a nerve root, chest wall or abdominal pain

  • Neuro symptoms e.g. numbness, weakness, loss of control etc.

If you have some of these symptoms its best to get checked out by a professional to rule out other more serious sources of your symptoms.

A strain is more likely to be what’s up here and the specific muscle probably doesnt matter much cos the assessment, management and treatment/rehab are pretty similar. Some combination/variation/degree of if you poke it or stretch it and its tender and u contract it and it’s tender/weak it’s probably a strain.

The injuries response to RICE(R?), especially rest from activities that aggravate symptoms is a pretty good indicator too. For a mild strain as the initial inflammatory phase get’s done your symptoms should decrease gradually.

If symptoms are still as bad or worse after a few weeks then it’s either a serious strain or something else.

Would recommend RICE for now, monitor symptoms, and R(referral to a professional) later if they haven’t cleared up after a few weeks. Continue lifting that doesn’t exacerbate pain or other symptoms. Going conservative and playing it safe is probs better. If you can’t conventional deadlift you can still make gains with some combination of hamstring work (e.g. curls, GHR/D) and glute work (e.g. BB hip thrusts)


#3

Today the back is feeling much better after getting a good night’s rest. For the RICE how can I compress or elevate the muscle? and should I try heat and cold therapy to speed up recovery?


#4

Is the pain between or around either one of the shoulder blades? Usually it’s off to the side of the spine by just a little bit.

I too have my right rhomboid a good strain doing some heavy deadlift work. It’ll heal reasonably quick if you leave it alone for a bit. I used ice, and a heating pad on my back when I went to sleep. Healed up within a week.


#5

Sounds like a rhomboid tweak to me. It happened to me while I was deadlifting a few months ago, and it affected my bench a little bit. Just take some time off from deads for a week or so, and make sure you’re warming up the antagonist muscles before bench press.

To avoid this in the future, as soon as your back feels good again, start doing hella band pull aparts, face pulls, etc. Pulling motions in the transverse plane are healthy for your upper back; do them all the time. Band pull aparts saved my life


#6

Soon as I realised I strained it I got a light band and did some pull-aparts and face-pulls and getting blood into it felt amazing


#7

Tbh rest is the most important bit but R doesn’t make for much of an acronym is all. Would recommend sticking with just rest. If you are feeling better so soon then it’s probably just a minor niggle. Recovery time is quicker but the approach stays the same.

Also worth having a think about why you got injured in the first place e.g. bad luck (possible and not much you can do about it), form/technique (depends how you pull but a bit weird to strain muscles in your upper back other than the lats usually is more hams, glutes and erectors), muscle weakness (not enough horizontal pulling mayb), programming, fatigue management & recovery etc.

You were saying something about not warming up but IMO just going 1 plate 2 plate 3 plate and so on is warm up enough for your upper back when deadlifting.


#8

Only ever strained my lower back muscles when I was pulling with YOLO form during my bodybuilding days. Sounds like a small tweak so it’s good news. Just avoid the temptation to go beast mode like at the first opportunity lol


#9

Personally I believe it has a good bit to do with fatigue management and improper fueling for that day and the bad warm-up kinda sent it over the edge. Got about 6 hours of sleep and probably only ate about 650kcal that day in all before my workout.


#10

IDGAF why lel. As long as you learn from it.