November 26, 2005

9 responses to Hope

  1. Alberto Caraballo Says:

    For a guy like me who wants to prevent back injuries and cut them off at the pass, your post was a gold mine of information. I’ve printed it out to read some more and will try the heavy bag stuff, too. Thanks, Kris, and hope the rest of us have read it.

  2. Måns Says:

    Mmmyes, if doing heavy bag kicking as well, such as what I might do and Kris does, be very careful not to hyperextend the knee just prior to contact with returning heavy bag.
    Said bag will in said situation be a harbinger of certain pain, perhaps even stop you from squatting. Not the case with Kris however. A simple ten minute rest after said encounter with said bag and off he goes loading the bar, proceeding with a decent squat workout. :D

  3. Scott Says:

    Very comprehensive post. Like Alberto said, it’s a goldmine of information.

  4. Michael O\'Rourke Says:

    Hi Kris
    Am reading your site with avid interest, particularly this section. I injured my back badly 6 months ago doing deadlifts and mri has shown disc bulge L4-L5 etc. Did rehab like you and started lifting 2 months ago, this weekend i tried light D Lifts and later my body was like leaning tower of Pisa. Of course all the experts I talk to say no squats etc etc,
    Was all ok after you started squatting…..
    yours very interestedly
    Michael O’Rourke

  5. Kris Says:

    Michael, really good to hear from you. There’s a lot of back pain out there, but this is the first time someone with the same symptoms gets in touch. It would be great if you could keep me informed on how your progressing, whether for the better or the worse.

    I’m no doctor etc. etc., but yes, so far skipping the flexion work has been a tremendous improvement. I am a bit behind on my blogging, but I have posted squat PRs several weeks in a row on various squatting exercises (manta ray, westside camber and regular squats) and have had zero back pain. I wouldn’t say I’m “cured”, but so far staying away from flexion has brought me back into the game. Am even starting to look forward to doing some sporadic max deadlifts soon. Never got a hip belt by the way, don’t need it either as I can now squat as heavy as I want.

    Trying to do powerlifting without much ab work is probably not going to cut it forever, but am thinking that once I am out of the acute phase I can get back to that. After all, I have been able to sustain that kind of work for months on end before it has finally brought my back down again. I am hoping that being more attentive to the early warning signals and scheduling in phases of little flexion work might keep me doing this crazy hobby long-term.

    My careful suggestion is to try seeing what happens if you skip the flexion work (everything where you bend against resistance). I saw some very fast improvement, which is no wonder since what I was doing was aggravating my condition. Of course, you won’t be able to squat for the next couple of weeks until you’re completely straight again because when in the acute phase even light squatting will trigger a protective response. Until then, do the McKenzie extension stuff if you know how and take relaxants if you have them. I also warmly recommend putting in an order for Low Back Disorders by Stuart McGill. You might also consider taking up heavy bag work or some other activity that keeps your back moving in another pattern than the lifting.

    Keep me posted and best of luck!

  6. Michael Says:

    Hi again Kris
    Thanks for the rapid and informative response. Dare I say I’m more of a ‘bodybuilder’!! sorry!
    but focus mainly on the main lifts..! I work in the fitness game and have Mcgill’s book, which I have read more of in the last few weeks than in the last 2 years. I straightened out quickly enough and yesterday attempted light squats, focusing on technique, neutral spine etc. All was ok, although today I do have some hip/buttock pain. Did you actually damage a disc? I am currently seeking treatment from a CHEK trained Osteopath who has advised no axial loading of the now although I do bow to the experience and knowledge of this well qualified gentleman, however as you will well be aware this hobby of ours is like a drug and consequently we are not always receptive to the well intentioned advice of “pencil necked therapists” ( I use my powerlifting friend’s liberal terminology!!) He informs me it takes 300-500 days for a disc to scar/heal and he will atttempt to recentre the displaced nucleus of my disc. I had been doing a lot of flexion type movements particularly for my abdominals and guess I had been aggravating the condition.
    So, now I’m in a bit of a quandry. As without squatting life is over!!! I think functionally I can squat heavier, but am concerened that this may be result in greater pain. When you squat heavy, how’s the back the following day? There are lifters out there who have multiple bulges and herniations, but are still setting PR’s all over the place! Triumph of the human spirit over adversity. Wonderful stuff! Will keep you posted! Best, Michael

  7. Kris Says:

    Michael, to this day I’m not actually sure what damage the original good morning injury caused, could feel something give way in there though. It took me six months until I had sought proper care (I wouldn’t count the stuff the osteopath did to me as proper care), so never got it properly diagnosed. I did consider paying up for an MRI, but the back specialist told me it would be a waste of money in my case. In retrospect, I wish I’d done it immediately after the injury. The back therapist did speak of disc damage and told me, like your osteopath, that I should expect it to heal within roughly 12 months of the original injury provided I don’t aggravate it. On my latest visit, he could no longer manually feel any direct disc damage such as a herniation. What I’m left with is regenerated discs, perhaps aggravated by the injury but also likely a major cause of the original injury.

    I’m curious to hear when you got your first lateral shift. Did it happen before or only just now some six months after the original injury? If so, this is eerily similar to my case. Got my first shift almost precisely six months after the injury.

    You also mention pain in the buttocks following your latest workout. Is this mainly on one side? If I get pain in my left glute I know that I have a shift. My shift is towards the right (shoulder slanting to the right, hip protruding to the left). Vigorous trigger point massage with a tennis ball, or my fiancée’s sharp elbow, has usually provided immediate release if the shift has been minor. Is this similar to your situation?

    You asked me how the back has been doing after heavy squatting. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, it often feels better the day after the squatting than the day before it. A few times, I did do a bit too much accessory work (a bit of abs or glute ham raises can be too much) which caused stiffness the next day, but nothing major. Beginning with the box squat PR in late December, I PR’ed four times on different variations of the squat within five weeks. No way I could have done that if I’d had to deal with back pain after every session. I am now more concerned with sleeping or sitting for too long.

    During my earlier rehab bouts, I used the first indication of a shift as an indicator that it was time to stop. I now feel this is letting it go too far. I now take any bad pain following a workout as a sign that I did something excessive, usually accessory work but in the acute phase after a shift this could of course also be squats. As a humble suggestion, I’d say try to do less than you did during your last workout if the response you got was pain, even if not severe. If there was no bad pain, add weight on the squats and possibly do a bit more low-flexion accessory work. I also feel the box squat is easier on the back than a regular squat and would reintroduce light squats that way. Also be careful with ‘light work’. In my experience, it is all too easy to focus on speed since the weight is light which can be a very stressor for the back. Got one of my shifts precisely after exploding away with a tiny 40 kg/88 lbs on box squats and deadlifts…

    Hopefully your back trouble is not making your occupational life troublesome. If you do personal training, I can imagine it being quite frustrating not to be able to show a client how to do a seated row or even a leg extension (got a surprising amount of pain during a light set of leg extensions especially at the top where the legs are extended). Keep up the good attitude!

  8. Michael Says:

    Thanks so much for the illuminating responses in perfect english, I may add!!
    It’s a curious thing that my back troubles seem to be similar to yours. My injury occured in August last year and was a bit of a whopper, with a nice pop sound on a deadlift, then severe spasming and was unable to stand up unaided for a day. The osteopath who saw me said I was one of the worst he’d seen!! On that day I experienced the shifting with my left hip hiked up and right shoulder dropped. It stayed like this for a week or so until the spasming settled.
    Other than a few massages I did nothing for several months except ‘core work’. This helped relieve some of the symptoms. As the osteopath originally diagnosed muscle tear, I commenced light training about 6 weeks later ( this included some running) which resulted in a slight shift the next day. I ceased training again but had mri (full results this week) which showed a bulge.
    Since January I upped the training, throwing in cleans, presses, rows etc, feeling very good. I think the rows, combined with the extra intensity and the light partial deadlifts, triggered off the disc again and that was when I got the shift again and pain, i.e 2 weeks ago.
    Due to my stubborness and refusal to accept the situation I attempted the squats as I said in my last post and yes the next day I had left buttock pain, like huge lumps in my upper butt. Also, some pain on the left side up above hip bone. Right side was fine.
    It definitely feels better without the loading and despite some odd spasming in and around the low back and buttock I am not in any pain today as I write.
    Fortunately, I still seem to be able to carry on with my work without any hinderance but am still having to come to terms with life without squats and deadlifts and rows for a while.
    Think it is one of those curious moments in life when you feel at a loss only to get through the situation, learn a great deal about yourself and come back stronger and more experienced and informed. Certainly, with my chosen career path, the extra learning will be put to good use when a client in a similar predicament comes along…
    Ever the optimist!
    Congratulations on all your new PR’s

    P.S. When you were rehabbing, were you doing any form of resistance work for your lower body or was that all banned?

  9. Kris Says:

    Ouch! Your initial injury sounds worse than mine. I had no sound effects… I could stand, but had trouble sitting for more than a minute or so for several days. Your shift is to the same side as mine as is the gluteal pain. You might have it already, but The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, now apparently in its second edition, is a wonderful aid for diagnosing and resolving trigger point pain.

    As far as lower body resistance work during rehab goes, no, it wasn’t prohibited. In retrospect, I did way too much flexion work but it included a lot of makeshift GHRs, pull-throughs, lying squat machine, makeshift reverse hypers and such in addition to the balance board and stability ball exercises. I picked the exercises myself, but the therapist didn’t complain when I explained to him what I was up to. Avoided squats like the plague until I felt better. For details, check the archives beginning around June 2004. I wonder if I wouldn’t have been maxing out a year earlier had I adopted my current strategy from the outset.

    I think you’re right on the money regarding rows and the deadlifts being the main culprits for your latest shift. Try skipping all abwork (except for perhaps upper cable twists which I actually find therapeutic), direct lower back work (including deadlifts), non-supported rows (bent over, seated rows…), heavy overhead pressing and heavy standing calf work for some time. I’ve been doing mainly restricted movement reverse hypers, GHRs (when the back has been up for it), seated calf raises and seated band leg curls and some standing band crunches that appear to not stress the back much in addition to heavy squatting. If you can’t do any of this without stressing the back, then just take a rest and do some other activity (swimming?) until you can or take a shot at doing some of the rehab exercises. Or better yet, consult directly with Mike Hope on the EliteFTS QA and see what specific advice he gives you (address your question specifically to him). There might be something in your case that makes it different from mine, although I doubt the answer will differ much. Yet, better safe than sorry, eh? Perhaps he also let’s us in on some more of his wisdom.

    Take care with that back! I hope to do the same. :-) Thanks for the compliment on my English!

Comments are closed.