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Training Around Back Injuries

hey, i have a question, and am hoping someone might have a suggestion, or maybe point in a direction where i can do further research…

my brother’s in Iraq, and currently has 2-5 ruptured discs in his back, i belive the lower area. he’s been training around it, but is struggling. his upper body strength is good, as well as pushups (for the Army PT test). however, he really can’t train for situps or 2 mile run.

he already thought that swimming and using the eliptical training would be best for maintining endurance, but is kind of at a loss otherwise, as i am.

i kinda told him that i don’t think there’s really antyhing he can do, and most liekly is gonna have to bite the bullet and get surgery. this is a big issue for him, since he might get discharged from the Army if it doesn’t correct it.

i referred him to some of Sterart McGill’s books, but really can’t think of anytihg else.


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i was thinking that front planks, side planks and glute bridges would be good for this, done statically. i suggested to him to start at a low time (like 10-15 sec), and slowly build up. also, since stability is the key, these should be done daily, right?

thanks again,


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i was in the same boat - degenerative disk disease and wedged vertebrae massive siatic pain - throw a hernia in there too. took me A LOT of stretching just to get off the antiinflammatories and be able to tie my own shoes. Took time - more than two years. i suggest doing anything to avoid surgery - all my research for surgery indicated nothing but problems for those who went that path.

his path to recovery should start with baby steps and get bigger slowly. i started with antiinflammatories (always on full stomach) and heating pads, warm the area up then stretch, then lift (light back cables and a lot of ab crunches) strengthen the abs to release pressure from the back. eventually got my core strong enough to bike a little and do light workouts on chest and arms. now i can run, and have started doing squats again.

i have severely neglected my legs in an effort not to reinjure myself. this has me lopsided - large upper body with pencil legs. i feel good enough now to do squats etc, but i am still gonna go slow on the lower body stuff. slow is the name of the game - it can be done though. i have completely rebuilt my body from scratch after the injury.

OP: I fully sympathise with your brother especially as he is still young. Please tell him to never give up. I went through severe periods of depression when my back went out (herniated L4 &L5, bulging L2 & L3. and bad coxxydynia) It took me a little time to overcome my depression that I could not lift anymore. Eventually I make a commitment to myself, and have kept it, that if I can only work out one muscle then I lift for that muscle.

I had disc laminectomyy on L4 & L5 and the doc said that he could shave them down two more times before he would have to give me a “metal lumbar” if I did not stop lifting. Naturally I continued to squat and dead lift after the surgery and have lost feeling in my right little toe and nerve running down my right leg/calf. As my wife sez to me: “You can cure ugly but stupid runs to the bone”

I backed off squats and deads and perform them two or three times a month with very light weight and as many reps as I can with good form. In the interval I do body weight one legged squats (place one leg behind you on a chair or bench and lower yourself carefully to the floor until the opposite knee touches. Keep your back straight and using your balance leg for just that: balance and not assistance). Tell your brother that I have used these to bring up my leg strength in my weak leg until now I can do 50 reps with each leg without stopping�?� A big win for me since two years ago I could not walk with my right leg.

I also MUST stretch my legs every day as a two day layoff means that I start too lose feeling in my right leg and foot: I am a bus driver so I can’t afford to play around. I also ride a bike when ever I can and use an elliptical trainer for Tabata. I also do inversion and hang upside down for fifteen or tweny minutes at a time. Please encourage your brother to do as much as he can whenever he can and NEVER give up and admit defeat.

I hope some of this will be of help to your brother. Whenever I get discouraged I read “Merry Christmas Bob” by Chris Shugart, sometimes daily, no joke. If there is anything I can do PM me or reply to this post.

Best of luck,