T Nation

What Does a Slipped Disc Feel Like?

1). Does the pain emanate from the actual spine?
2). Is it a ‘pain’ or a ‘tightness’?
3). Does it get worse when bending forward at the waist?
4). Is it accompanied by sciatica?
5). Was there a moment where you knew you injured yourself - or does it happen gradually?
6). Is your spinal mobility affected in any way?
7). Is it bilateral or one one side only?

I’ll answer;

1). No, it emanates from the side of the back/hips, and goes round to the front of the body
2). It is a tightness, not a pain
3). No
4). No
5). No, it happened gradually
6). No
7). It’s on both sides

From this (I’m not going to pay for a scan yet) would you guys say I’ve got a slipped disc or some other problem?

alternate, you don’t have a slipped disc. What you do have is shitty posture and weak ass glutes which has given you a bad back. You can fix this, but you have to be patient.

Drop deadlifts and back squats. Spend some time (a LOT of time) strengthening your glutes and core.

EVERY DAY do 100 reps of bodyweight hip thrusts with a squeeze at the top. You should squeeze life you’re trying to crack a walnut between your cheeks. The minute you feel your hamstrings fatigue STOP, then try again later (want glutes to be doing the work not hammies).

but that’s not all. You are also going to do 100 reps of side lying clams every day, with a 5 second squeeze at the top.

But wait, there’s more. You are also going to do 100 reps of bird dogs every day. Good, smooth, slow, controlled reps where you really feel your abs working.

And finally, you are going to do 5 sets of side planks every day (both sides, obviously).

A good way to get into the routine of doing this is when you are watching tv, do a few sets of each every commercial break.

You will drop all spinal loading while you do this. If you want to train your legs use DBSS, BB Hip Thrusts and GHRs. You should still be able to hammer your legs using these, they’re just not as fun as squats/deads. They don’t load your spine though which is key (although it is possible to hyperextend your back doing hip thrusts so be sensible with this). You don’t have to do your at-home work on days you train your legs (but you can if you like).

Keep doing the stuff at home and training your legs the way I’ve described until the pain goes away. Do NOT just jump back in to loading your spine the first day you have no pain. Make sure you have been pain free for a while.

Once you have been pain free for a while (weeks, not days) you can add front squats back in and take it from there. SLOWLY.

There. Follow these instructions and you will never have to start another thread about that god damn back of yours

[quote]rds63799 wrote:
alternate, you don’t have a slipped disc. What you do have is shitty posture and weak ass glutes which has given you a bad back. You can fix this, but you have to be patient.

Drop deadlifts and back squats. Spend some time (a LOT of time) strengthening your glutes and core.

EVERY DAY do 100 reps of bodyweight hip thrusts with a squeeze at the top. You should squeeze life you’re trying to crack a walnut between your cheeks. The minute you feel your hamstrings fatigue STOP, then try again later (want glutes to be doing the work not hammies).

but that’s not all. You are also going to do 100 reps of side lying clams every day, with a 5 second squeeze at the top.

But wait, there’s more. You are also going to do 100 reps of bird dogs every day. Good, smooth, slow, controlled reps where you really feel your abs working.

And finally, you are going to do 5 sets of side planks every day (both sides, obviously).

A good way to get into the routine of doing this is when you are watching tv, do a few sets of each every commercial break.

You will drop all spinal loading while you do this. If you want to train your legs use DBSS, BB Hip Thrusts and GHRs. You should still be able to hammer your legs using these, they’re just not as fun as squats/deads. They don’t load your spine though which is key (although it is possible to hyperextend your back doing hip thrusts so be sensible with this). You don’t have to do your at-home work on days you train your legs (but you can if you like).

Keep doing the stuff at home and training your legs the way I’ve described until the pain goes away. Do NOT just jump back in to loading your spine the first day you have no pain. Make sure you have been pain free for a while.

Once you have been pain free for a while (weeks, not days) you can add front squats back in and take it from there. SLOWLY.

There. Follow these instructions and you will never have to start another thread about that god damn back of yours

[/quote]

Deserves a sticky.

tweet

I had/have disk injuries and i would like to concur with almost everything rds said. Still i would like to say it’s not possible to know if you have slipped discs or not without a scan because the pain can manifest in so many ways. For example i had similar symptoms to yours, although i had numbness in my legs as well from where the discs pressed on some nerves.

But even if you have slipped discs the advice RDS gave is rock solid. You can’t go wrong if you drop spinal loading, spend A LOT of time strengthening your core and glutes and then ease very slowly back in to front squatting. That is basicly what i did and just recently i pulled a 400 pounds deadlift conventional without pain and did a 300 pounds front squat. Those are not huge lifts by any means but i think it’s ok for a person recovering from disc problems.

You could add tennisball/lax ball work on the glutes aswell, it helped me a ton. Also i would like to advice you to get really really good ad basic hip hinge patterns before you start front-squatting. You should be able to do atleast 40 reps with a straight spine on the 45°back raise with your bodyweight feeling it mostly in your glutes and secondly in your hamstrings and low back. Also do some front planks on leg days focusing once again on squeezing the glutes and keeping tight.

hilldog, have you since recovered from it? Also, does the disc go ‘back in’ or do the nerves to your legs/back simply die or get used to having constant pressure on them, thus it ‘appears’ you are symptomless? I also used to have sciatica from an SI joint thing earlier, but since this new tightness in my back and sides has appeared, the sciatica disappeared with it.

rds, is it always caused by a weak core/glutes though? I mean, I have quite a strong core from my days on the pommel horse in gymnastics, and my glutes are quite developed (well, they’re the most developed muscle of my body).

Also, thanks a lot for the routine (seriously), but is there anyway it can be shortened without losing efficacy? Is it 100reps per side on the bird dogs and side-lying clams? Even if it’s not - I’m also rehabbing a shoulder impingement, and added to this it would mean that there would be no time for anything but work and rehabbing!

[quote]theBird wrote:

[quote]rds63799 wrote:
alternate, you don’t have a slipped disc. What you do have is shitty posture and weak ass glutes which has given you a bad back. You can fix this, but you have to be patient.

Drop deadlifts and back squats. Spend some time (a LOT of time) strengthening your glutes and core.

EVERY DAY do 100 reps of bodyweight hip thrusts with a squeeze at the top. You should squeeze life you’re trying to crack a walnut between your cheeks. The minute you feel your hamstrings fatigue STOP, then try again later (want glutes to be doing the work not hammies).

but that’s not all. You are also going to do 100 reps of side lying clams every day, with a 5 second squeeze at the top.

But wait, there’s more. You are also going to do 100 reps of bird dogs every day. Good, smooth, slow, controlled reps where you really feel your abs working.

And finally, you are going to do 5 sets of side planks every day (both sides, obviously).

A good way to get into the routine of doing this is when you are watching tv, do a few sets of each every commercial break.

You will drop all spinal loading while you do this. If you want to train your legs use DBSS, BB Hip Thrusts and GHRs. You should still be able to hammer your legs using these, they’re just not as fun as squats/deads. They don’t load your spine though which is key (although it is possible to hyperextend your back doing hip thrusts so be sensible with this). You don’t have to do your at-home work on days you train your legs (but you can if you like).

Keep doing the stuff at home and training your legs the way I’ve described until the pain goes away. Do NOT just jump back in to loading your spine the first day you have no pain. Make sure you have been pain free for a while.

Once you have been pain free for a while (weeks, not days) you can add front squats back in and take it from there. SLOWLY.

There. Follow these instructions and you will never have to start another thread about that god damn back of yours

[/quote]

Deserves a sticky.

tweet[/quote]

thanks Birdy

Side lying clams, bird dogs, side planks…

Could someone please give a description of these?

I’ve had my back give out a few times over the last couple of years, thanks to neglecting core work, not enough focus on glute strength… so my back took a bit of a beating.

[quote]alternate wrote:
rds, is it always caused by a weak core/glutes though? I mean, I have quite a strong core from my days on the pommel horse in gymnastics, and my glutes are quite developed (well, they’re the most developed muscle of my body).

Also, thanks a lot for the routine (seriously), but is there anyway it can be shortened without losing efficacy? Is it 100reps per side on the bird dogs and side-lying clams? Even if it’s not - I’m also rehabbing a shoulder impingement, and added to this it would mean that there would be no time for anything but work and rehabbing![/quote]

while your glutes/core are not necessarily weak compared to the average sedentary individual, they are weak compared to the rest of your body. There’s powerlifters out there with 800lbs+ pulls whose glutes are still “weak”, despite being strong as fuck. See what I mean?

you don’t have to jump straight in doing 100 reps but make that the goal. 50 reps a side on the side lying clams/bird dogs is ok. You can build up to it slowly if you like, but just remember that the harder you work at it the faster you’ll get results. It’s only 10 sets of 10 spread throughout the day.

Also remember that although rehabbing sucks (and I’ve had to do my fair share of it too so I feel your pain), once it’s done you WILL be stronger than you’ve ever been.

For extra credit, pick up a copy of Athletic Body in Balance by Gray Cook and test yourself on the Functional Movement Screens. They are quite eye opening and will most likely get to the route of what’s hurting your shoulder and back.

[quote]rds63799 wrote:
alternate, you don’t have a slipped disc. What you do have is shitty posture and weak ass glutes which has given you a bad back. You can fix this, but you have to be patient.

Drop deadlifts and back squats. Spend some time (a LOT of time) strengthening your glutes and core.

EVERY DAY do 100 reps of bodyweight hip thrusts with a squeeze at the top. You should squeeze life you’re trying to crack a walnut between your cheeks. The minute you feel your hamstrings fatigue STOP, then try again later (want glutes to be doing the work not hammies).

but that’s not all. You are also going to do 100 reps of side lying clams every day, with a 5 second squeeze at the top.

But wait, there’s more. You are also going to do 100 reps of bird dogs every day. Good, smooth, slow, controlled reps where you really feel your abs working.

And finally, you are going to do 5 sets of side planks every day (both sides, obviously).

A good way to get into the routine of doing this is when you are watching tv, do a few sets of each every commercial break.

You will drop all spinal loading while you do this. If you want to train your legs use DBSS, BB Hip Thrusts and GHRs. You should still be able to hammer your legs using these, they’re just not as fun as squats/deads. They don’t load your spine though which is key (although it is possible to hyperextend your back doing hip thrusts so be sensible with this). You don’t have to do your at-home work on days you train your legs (but you can if you like).

Keep doing the stuff at home and training your legs the way I’ve described until the pain goes away. Do NOT just jump back in to loading your spine the first day you have no pain. Make sure you have been pain free for a while.

Once you have been pain free for a while (weeks, not days) you can add front squats back in and take it from there. SLOWLY.

There. Follow these instructions and you will never have to start another thread about that god damn back of yours

[/quote]

Thank you for that excellent post, I learned from that and I sincerely appreciate it.

I’m glad Larry.

I struggled with back problems for years and I know that it’s no fun at all!

[quote]alternate wrote:
hilldog, have you since recovered from it? Also, does the disc go ‘back in’ or do the nerves to your legs/back simply die or get used to having constant pressure on them, thus it ‘appears’ you are symptomless? I also used to have sciatica from an SI joint thing earlier, but since this new tightness in my back and sides has appeared, the sciatica disappeared with it.

rds, is it always caused by a weak core/glutes though? I mean, I have quite a strong core from my days on the pommel horse in gymnastics, and my glutes are quite developed (well, they’re the most developed muscle of my body).

Also, thanks a lot for the routine (seriously), but is there anyway it can be shortened without losing efficacy? Is it 100reps per side on the bird dogs and side-lying clams? Even if it’s not - I’m also rehabbing a shoulder impingement, and added to this it would mean that there would be no time for anything but work and rehabbing![/quote]

I have to say i have not fully recovered and i even get some relapse periods but i am million times better than when i started even if i tweak something. When i started rehabing i couldn’t walk for 5 minutes without taking a break do to lowerback pain. (injury was from a car accident). On a brighter note scans have revealed i might make 100% recovery so i just have to stick to it. Scans might be useful in that regard… to see if there is any permanent damage.

About your core. Even if the cause is not a weak core/glutes a stronger set will at least help the symptoms. If you have the time i would add slow controlled fire hydrant circles to your routine. They challange the glutes, core and have the added bonus og some much needed mobility.

glad to hear you have recovered, Hilldog, and your accident sounds rough.

However, I don’t think your symptoms are actually similar to mine if what you said is true about not being able to walk for 5 minutes.

My thing is much less severe - I can walk, run (sprint), and play rugby fine - unaffected. It is just I notice a tightness around the sides of my lower left back and lower abs. The tightness feeling is not even noticeable if I’m wearing clothes, and is more noticeable if I’m naked.

Among the things it could be - it could be tight lats as I only do upper body pulling and no pressing due to shoulder rehab.

The thing is your symptoms sounds similar to mine when i had recovered for a few months. Have you tried foam rolling the hell out of your piriformis, hip flexors and glutes??? Use a tennisball fx.

Tight lats seems like a longshot but it’s easy to stretch them so just try doing that few times a day… like every time you pass a corner on a wall or a door you can grab. Should probably feel a lot in a few days if that’s the culprit.

The thing i found out is that it wasn’t just one thing. The body kinda overcompensates and breaks down systematicly when you have a big injury so its probably heaps of factos. I for example benefited from strengthening my core, hamstrings, glutes, upper back and gaining mobility in my upperback, shoulders and hips. I think your body is so linked that every little thing you do right will help. Thats just my opinion.

hilldog, you had a tightness (that isn’t a pain) around your lower waist that goes from the back, around the sides and to the front of the body as well? Sometimes feels like it is around the upper waist (around the lower ribs) as well - cannot specify the exact area?

Do you still have this?

If i don’t foam roll and do mobility stuff i still get tightness/ fatique that isn’t sharp pain around my lowback and around the side all the way to the front of the hips. That’s why i need to stretch and move everything regularly.

I’ve noticed that this feeling is worst when I lie down flat on my back (ie. when in bed), better when standing, and eels least noticeable when I’m sitting down… It isn’t noticeable when I’m sitting or standing with heavy clothing.

Does that sound like classic bulging disc symptoms?

Sounds a bit like tightness do to hyperextending the spine while resting which i think is often the result of weak glutes. Try flexing the glutes and do a posterior pelvic tilt while laying on your back, maybe put a big pillow under your knees as well. If that relieves something your probably have an anterior pelvic tilt when you lay down.

It sounds like the advice from RDS would be spot on.

Amen for first reply. 6 months on my back in.the wounded warrior in bed jacked my back up. Honestly nothing fixed it not even four dones at a time. I was turned on to dead lifts and weight lifting and now with a strong ass core im pain free with two bulging disc. The VA(veteran affairs) hospital dont operate by scales like a real world dr does so was told get a strong back or live with it.

I’m going to guess my condition is tight quadratus lumborum because;

1). Unweighted pistol squats are not known to cause many disc herniations. These are the only lower body exercise I was doing
2). Single leg exercises ARE meant to be tough on the quadratus lumborum
3). The tightness I feel is in the lower 3rd of the back all the way up to the bottom rib. This is where the quadratus lumbrum muscle is located and attaches to
4). Doing quadratus lumborum stretches brings about the same tightness I’m complaining of

As such, I’m going to continue doing the warmup suggested earlier in the thread, and also quadratus lumborum stretches and tennis ball soft tissue worth 3x daily.

I would be very grateful for Larry or anyone else to see if they agree with the diagnosis and course of action…?

Thanks for the advice on this thread. I finally sucked it up and saw a physio.

Apparently I’ve got ‘facet joint stiffness at the thoraco-lumbar junction’. No disc issues, as the tightness is extension-based rather than flexion-based.

Cause is too much extension-based exercise (currently I only do pulling exercises like weighted chin-ups and rows, and apparently I need to balance it out with pushing like bench press).

Treatment is quadratus lumborum, lat, hamstring and left hip flexor stretches.