T Nation

Training with Life-Long Lower Back Injury (DDD)

TLDR: How to find a good routine for people with lower back problems

I’m 40 years old and I’ve been training for around 15 years. I’ve done powerlifting as well as some body building. About 7 years ago, I injured my back (not weight training related). After an MRI, I was diagnosed with DDD on my lower back (L4). My neurosurgeon said that I can still train, but I should try to avoid very heavy loads (and they do give me a sore lower back when I go too heavy).

I’m still training, but this injury has required me to stop heavy squats and heavy deadlifts, which used to be my main lifts. This has led me to not have a consistent routine, which is what kept me motivated throughout the years.
I can still do around 100kg squats/DL without big issues, but I don’t want to go higher, since that’s when my lower back starts to hurt.

Are there any fun programs that can adapt to a lower back injury and see progression?

PS: I train at home, squat rack, BB and DB.

If you closed your eyes and imagined the most fun routine you could have, without regard for injuries or limitations, What would that routine look like? Knowing that might help somebody make a good suggestion.

Also, check out some lower back info from Dr Stuart McGill. He’s a research guy who specializes in the back and working with injured athletes.

Anyway, he has this idea about accumulating damage in your disks/vertebrates. Like if you do a some work that hits your lower back it’s possible that you’ll cause tiny tears and damage to your disks. But it’s OK, because the damage is minimal and your body can repair it. Unless you come back too soon, and cause more micro tears before you can fix it.

If you don’t manage your recovery these tiny injuries add up, and suddenly something that didn’t cause problems before is enough to blast your poor disk.

I thought that was pretty smart.

You can have a lot of fun with EMOM sets without using a lot of weight.
I also love this video. Jeff didn’t intend the video to be a back day, but doing these exercises in this order, makes one hell of a workout.

What is your goal?