T Nation

Tired of Being Injured

Ok here is the situation, I just turned 35 this February and I have had back spasms (according to military doctors) on and off for about 12 years (bad flexibility, being young and bullet proof). In 2001 I was doing what I call fast squats, where you go down slow and up fast and let the weight (365lbs) come off my shoulders and back down very hard.

Well this caused a disc protrusion at L4-L5 which was pushing on the nerve and wasn’t properly diagnosed until 2007, that’s when I had surgery to remove the protrusion.

To get to the point I’m tired of being sick and tired! I have been athletic all of my life (basketball, football, wrestling, softball, soccer, whatever) and now I’ve been laying on my ass for 2 years and I don’t like the results. So, I am going to try to fix my back and the rest of me with weights and yoga. That’s right yoga, one of my main problems is lack of flexibility, so I’m going to start there.

What I am looking for in this forum is advice, I want to start lifting again, but I know I can’t go at it like I did when I was 25. Do you guys have any suggestions on what exercises to start off with? Also do you have any suggestions on supplements, and or protein powders, for say rebuilding vertebral discs?

There’s a lot of back injury threads on T-Nation that you might want to check out. I’ve found some pretty good info in a few of them. Not all of it is directly relevant but it at least gives you an idea of what questions to ask.

For my L4-l5 protrusion - which put me out for about two years - I had to:

  1. Pay attention to the things that aggravated my back - like sitting in a chair at a desk and deadlifts. And then fix or stop doing them.

  2. Figure out what back flexion, extension, and neutral spine meant.

  3. Regain range of motion before doing a weighted exercise.

  4. Identify weak spots - which for me were core and hips. I had to work on these areas before I even picked up a dumbell. Stuart McGill’s back stuff and anything on glute amnesia really helped.

  5. Figure out the progressions in exercises and go slowly through them. Mike Boyle’s stuff on single leg squat progressions and leg raises, and Robertson’s dead bug stuff helped a lot.

  6. Really getting in the habit of warming up - foam roll, full dynamic warm-up and BW lunge progressions.

  7. Being able to bag an exercise/training session if my back was giving me warning signs. Also, recognizing that no matter how good I felt during a workout, the exercises that caused me problems were not a good idea.

  8. Be willing to adjust a plan if something changes.

For me deadlifts and rotational core exercises are not worth it anymore. You’ll figure what to stay away from if you keep at it.

And right now, my back problem is manageable as long as I stay active and don’t do anything silly. I’ve had to give up a few exercises and I do a lot more lunges and hip stability work than I want to, but overall I can’t really complain.

Hope that helped.

Good luck!

When I was 37 I was in a similar situation. I can remember standing in the gym one night, and thinking now what will I do, and after I had ticked off, all the things that I had injuries that restricted weight or movement, I had curls and chins left, so just went home, and pretty well did not return for 13 years.

When I can back my problem was knees, shoulders and back. I had trouble walking down stairs, up stairs I would lean forward and use glute hammie (never realised it then). Running caused accute pain at the time and in the days that followed (when I say running I mean like in an emergency to grab a small dog from getting killed, all of around 10 steps Owch!!!.)

Started squats light around 40lbs ( I had been a 485 squatter) in the days that followed I could barely get out of a chair, and that last for months not weeks, it was very very slow progress. Same with lower back, found something that seemed to work ( bent rows - but would not recommend that to anyone else it just seemed to help me) and over time just added weight.

I am now front squatting 220 for 5 below parrallel, and back squatting high bar, 341 x 3 on a good day. Other lifts are comparable, shoulders are best in years etc,

The thing I strongly recommend, is that you sound like you were once a competetive athlete, well I recommend you now become a gym spectator while you lift. Park your ego, was very hard for me, very, very hard, and let the idiots jerk and heave their weights, start light, get good feel, good control, be very patient, and the biggie for me was don’t try any reps you can’t lift.

I missed my first reps in 5 years two weeks ago ( I am now training for a OL comp - inspired by our very own Carl Darby) I have found that all I need is weights close to my maxes reps etc but moved with real effort, I don’t need PB weights to raise my PBs any more. Max weights and attempts close to Pbs for reps = injury for me,

another thing is I now know when to stop. I usually load the bar sit down wait for the next set and then realise I don’t need it and move on. Must look weird to others.

As for exercise, that will depend on your goal, weight loss, size gain, sports etc, so what are your goals,

also regarding back and exercise keep reading, the more you read on it the more it will make some sense

I kind of figured out that ego part yesterday, I was at squadron PT yesterday and while everyone was running a lap and doing push-ups and sit-ups then running another, I wanted to push myself, but instead I jogged a lap and stretched in between. It was my first time back at real PT since July of last year.

Right now my goal is to be lean, I wouldn’t be upset with my current stats if it were lean instead of fat. Current stats by the way 6 feet tall and 215 - 220.

Sorry to hear about the life of pain you have endured so far.

I have been in and out of back pain for the better part of the last 2-3 years of my life. And I’m only 26. It sucks.

My best move was going to Cressey Performance and getting their advice.

If you want, PM me and I will give you a rundown of the workout they gave me in an excel spreadsheet.

[quote]B rocK wrote:
Sorry to hear about the life of pain you have endured so far.

I have been in and out of back pain for the better part of the last 2-3 years of my life. And I’m only 26. It sucks.

My best move was going to Cressey Performance and getting their advice.

If you want, PM me and I will give you a rundown of the workout they gave me in an excel spreadsheet.[/quote]

Thanks, dude. You rock.

[quote]Taxman13 wrote:
B rocK wrote:
Sorry to hear about the life of pain you have endured so far.

I have been in and out of back pain for the better part of the last 2-3 years of my life. And I’m only 26. It sucks.

My best move was going to Cressey Performance and getting their advice.

If you want, PM me and I will give you a rundown of the workout they gave me in an excel spreadsheet.

Thanks, dude. You rock.[/quote]

No problem.