My lifting partner has just been diagnosed with a bulging disc. Lifting has been a huge part of his life for 20 years–and it shows. (My friends think I am big; next to this guy I feel like I’m made of popsicle sticks.)
I know that this is a life-changing health problem for someone who is physically very active. I believe, however, that it will be possible to continue to train with a bulging disc IF we are prepared to make some radical changes. (Squat Days are out for him, alas.)
He hobbled in Friday at 5:00am (our usual time) and limited himself to slow pullups and triceps pushdowns. I had him switch to dips for triceps so he wasn’t bracing his lower back. It seems to me that we might turn to machines instead of free weights and find ways to work out that spare pressure on his lower back.
(This post is feeling very “stream of consciousness” for me.) I guess what I’m getting at is: any input from the crowd?–especially, of course, anyone who has dealt with this health issue and has found ways to continue to train without exacerbating the situation.
If anyone with experience (first-hand or second-hand) wants to toss me opinions/ideas/feedback on treatment, whether they think surgery is the best option, training “around” the core (yeah, right!), or anything that might help me come up with a game plan for workouts that won’t cripple him further, I’d be very grateful.
P.S. After proofreading this, I feel the “I had him switch” line looks odd. To explain: This guy has built a huge and proportioned physique on M&F magazines, chicken breasts, and 20 years of absolute devotion to routine–even setting his alarm for the middle of the night to have a protein shake.
He’s the only other person I know at our gym who has a PWO shake and eats every few hours. BUT he listens to me–whose physique is FAR inferior–because I have shared with him info and ideas and routines from T-Nation, and they work.
His brother was telling me the other night that I might be the one person in the world he’ll actually listen to re: working out and this condition. Also, his dedication and intensity in the gym have made me push myself more than I ever would on my own.
I don’t want to lose the best training partner I’ve ever seen because our goals have to go in different directions. I want to figure out a way to keep him heading in the same direction, even if it’s by a different path.[/quote]
I have bulging discs in my L3,L4, and L5. I also have the beginning symptoms of degenerative disc disease. Did I mention my facet in my lower back goes in and out of place and makes squats and DL’s a fucking nightmare? Oh…and I’m only 22. I was diagnosed with this about a year ago.
First and foremost I am not a doctor. I will just tell you my opinion on this all and what I am doing to work with it. This doesn’t mean your friend should do the same thing.
My physical therapist told me to never do squats, deadlifts, or any overhead press again. I have not listened to my therapist.
I still do squats. Albeit I’m sure your friend can do more than me but I rep about 300-325lbs. I wear a belt because it takes a good amount of the pressure of my spine and helps stabilize everything. I use slow and controlled form on the negative and burst with control still on the positive.
I’m still doing DL’s as well. Just today I did 6sets of 3x375 with no pain in my back.
I also still do clings, push press, and any and all overhead presses.
I know I’m probably just screwing myself over in the long run for when I get older by not listening to my therapist, but we all have set goals for ourselves. I’m not about to let something like bulging discs screw me over.
Eventually I will have to ditch squats when the weight becomes too much and switch to leg press, but I won’t mind that. I work in several variations of leg presses in my workouts already and they get the job done just as well.
Also, when DL’s become too much I’ll drop them for T-bar rows/T-bar DL’s because you can get back thickness with those as well.
Your friend has to decide if he’s going to let this get in his way of his goals and training. If he’s hurting, he should take a break from those exercises. I recently stopped doing DLs for about a month because my facet was out of place and was irritating my back. I kept doing Squats, but at a lighter weight but with more reps and higher frequency.
After the break, my back feels great.
When I first heard this I was pretty upset. I mean shit, I’m only 22 and never had a back injury in my life and I’ve got bulging discs in my lower back and degenerative disc disease? Unfortunately it’s the price you pay when your mother has a horrible back herself and you’re the lucky one out of 3 sons to get what she’s got.
Basically it boils down to what does your friend value more. His health in the long run when he’s an old man or the goals he has set for himself?
In my opinion my goals are more important to me. I refuse to let this get in my way. Hell, my therapist admitted to me that there was no certainty that I would screw myself for life if I continued doing squats,dls, and over head presses, but that it was possible.
I’m willing to take that risk.
Your friend has a lot to think about and I feel for him.