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  1. #1
    Registered User TheBrokenx's Avatar
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    Lower Back Recovery Advice?

    Hey Guys,

    Hope all are strong and well. I got a bit of an issue that has really discouraged me lately and not sure how to look at this. I've been powerlifting for the past 7 years and it has been the most amazing experience for me. The thrill of hitting goals, the environment and the overall community has helped me through a lot of difficult times. I've been fortunate to not incur any serious injuries majority of my lifting career, but did finally experience a back injury incident. It has plagued me for a long time and has mentality affect all my lifts. Here are some timeline of what has happened:

    First Incident: This was when I started a pretty intense workout program to increase all three lifts (Bench, Deadlifts, Squats). I was overexerting myself during a deadlift session and is sure that my back started rounding. I felt a sharp pain on my lower back, but it was manageable and didn't really give off any bad warnings. As soon as a day past I realized that I must have snapped something as I couldn't bend over, get out of bed, or do anything. It seemed like a typical "snap city" experience so I just stopped deadlifting and squat all together. The pain actually did not fully go away but it did get more manageable as time progress. Starting Injury date was December of 2019 and did not fully recovered until October 2020. It was 10 months of constant ups and down and I pretty much just man-through it all without seeking medical Advice.

    Second Incident: Following the recovery in October 2020, I waited an additional 3 months before deadlifting again. In February of 2021 I started deadlifts and overall it felt fine. I quickly worked back up to my original numbers by the 3rd week but then during one session I felt a distinct pop in my lower back. I immediate dropped to my knees, felt the cold-sweat forming, and vision blurring. At that moment I realized I really just snapped my back, but this sensation felt absolutely different compare to the first incident. Regardless I stopped lifting and went back to recovery mode expecting to be out another 10 months, but oddly I made a full recovery after just 2 weeks. At this point I began to wonder if these two incident were even the same problems.

    Third Incident: This May I muster the courage to restart my powerlifting program and made substantial progress in two months, but once again I was plagued with more back injury. This time however was not due to deadlifts, matter of fact I stopped deadlift completely after my second incident. This time was on squats and I'm pretty sure I simply let my guard down. I was just warming up, but was not doing the keeping tight protocol and injured myself again. This sensation was similar to the first incident where I didn't really feel anything until the next day. Once again I waited 3 weeks until I felt like I made a full recovery.

    Fourth Incident: Finally after the 3 week recovery, I told myself maybe I should just quit powerlifting. I stopped going to the gym for a couple of weeks when one day in August, I was just sitting and pain started developing in my lower back. I had not done anything at all, my job is a desk job and there was no heavy movement required so I was very confused. This time however was an absolute nightmare, the pain experience is amplify by 10 times compare to all the other incident. Not only was it painful to do any movement, but I also had constant random shock or pinching sensation for the next 2 weeks. It was the worst I've ever felt and basically was bedridden during this time.


    Eventually I did the thing that I should have done a long time ago and went to a chiropractor. This is my first time as well so I was hopeful to get some answers. After some x-rays the doctor basically said I had a minor scoliosis and my lumbar spine was slight crooked to the left side. My pelvis was visibly unaligned by a lot as well. I tried to get some more information, but the doctor gave me a standard answer of don't lift anymore and correct my posture. While I believe the result to be valid, it felt really lackluster to the pain I've experience. They wouldn't even suggest an MRI and said to just stretch. So here I am wanting to see if anyone had a similar experience. I probably won't ever get back to my peak, but giving completely up on powerlifting really bums me out. Any thoughts?
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  2. #2
    Registered User golli1982's Avatar
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    Do you ever see a chiropractor? Maybe he can help things along and become more manageable.

    As far as lifting goes, do weights that are manageable and stop lifting weights that are to heavy and messing your back up
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  3. #3
    based on actual events jtaylor2010's Avatar
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    1.) don’t take “just stop lifting and correct your posture” for an answer. Find someone who is willing to help you fix your problems and continue doing what you want to do. Some chiropractors are helpful, but some aren’t. You can try another one, or you could go to an orthopedic specialists/sports medicine place. Either way don’t stop until you find someone willing to actually help you

    2.) get a standing desk. Sitting on your ass all day is bad for anyone, but this is particularly true for someone with lower back issues.

    3.) stop getting complacent with your form. Always maintain good form during lifts, especially lifts that have a history of putting you out of commission. Always warm up properly.


    4.) incorporate stretching into your protocol. You can do a little each day, or a lot once-twice/week, but it needs to happen

    5.) consider adding massages to your routine.
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    Get a second opinion from a physical therapist. My PT is a good friend of mine, he knows me, and he is an athlete himself. Through his care I recuperated from two herniated discs and am back to doing all the things I enjoy doing for over four years now.
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  5. #5
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    Originally Posted by TheBrokenx View Post
    Hey Guys,

    Hope all are strong and well. I got a bit of an issue that has really discouraged me lately and not sure how to look at this. I've been powerlifting for the past 7 years and it has been the most amazing experience for me. The thrill of hitting goals, the environment and the overall community has helped me through a lot of difficult times. I've been fortunate to not incur any serious injuries majority of my lifting career, but did finally experience a back injury incident. It has plagued me for a long time and has mentality affect all my lifts. Here are some timeline of what has happened:

    First Incident: This was when I started a pretty intense workout program to increase all three lifts (Bench, Deadlifts, Squats). I was overexerting myself during a deadlift session and is sure that my back started rounding. I felt a sharp pain on my lower back, but it was manageable and didn't really give off any bad warnings. As soon as a day past I realized that I must have snapped something as I couldn't bend over, get out of bed, or do anything. It seemed like a typical "snap city" experience so I just stopped deadlifting and squat all together. The pain actually did not fully go away but it did get more manageable as time progress. Starting Injury date was December of 2019 and did not fully recovered until October 2020. It was 10 months of constant ups and down and I pretty much just man-through it all without seeking medical Advice.

    Second Incident: Following the recovery in October 2020, I waited an additional 3 months before deadlifting again. In February of 2021 I started deadlifts and overall it felt fine. I quickly worked back up to my original numbers by the 3rd week but then during one session I felt a distinct pop in my lower back. I immediate dropped to my knees, felt the cold-sweat forming, and vision blurring. At that moment I realized I really just snapped my back, but this sensation felt absolutely different compare to the first incident. Regardless I stopped lifting and went back to recovery mode expecting to be out another 10 months, but oddly I made a full recovery after just 2 weeks. At this point I began to wonder if these two incident were even the same problems.

    Third Incident: This May I muster the courage to restart my powerlifting program and made substantial progress in two months, but once again I was plagued with more back injury. This time however was not due to deadlifts, matter of fact I stopped deadlift completely after my second incident. This time was on squats and I'm pretty sure I simply let my guard down. I was just warming up, but was not doing the keeping tight protocol and injured myself again. This sensation was similar to the first incident where I didn't really feel anything until the next day. Once again I waited 3 weeks until I felt like I made a full recovery.

    Fourth Incident: Finally after the 3 week recovery, I told myself maybe I should just quit powerlifting. I stopped going to the gym for a couple of weeks when one day in August, I was just sitting and pain started developing in my lower back. I had not done anything at all, my job is a desk job and there was no heavy movement required so I was very confused. This time however was an absolute nightmare, the pain experience is amplify by 10 times compare to all the other incident. Not only was it painful to do any movement, but I also had constant random shock or pinching sensation for the next 2 weeks. It was the worst I've ever felt and basically was bedridden during this time.


    Eventually I did the thing that I should have done a long time ago and went to a chiropractor. This is my first time as well so I was hopeful to get some answers. After some x-rays the doctor basically said I had a minor scoliosis and my lumbar spine was slight crooked to the left side. My pelvis was visibly unaligned by a lot as well. I tried to get some more information, but the doctor gave me a standard answer of don't lift anymore and correct my posture. While I believe the result to be valid, it felt really lackluster to the pain I've experience. They wouldn't even suggest an MRI and said to just stretch. So here I am wanting to see if anyone had a similar experience. I probably won't ever get back to my peak, but giving completely up on powerlifting really bums me out. Any thoughts?
    Might be a good time to retire. However, if you want to continue to endure the heavy weights go for it. Just realize your body will pay the price at some point. If powerlifitng is affecting your day job, it may not be worth risking your health in the long term to continue to chase PR's Try to fix it with physical therapy or other rehab doctors. If that doesnt help massage therapy. Sounds like you might need surgery, however i cannot diagnose you. I am no medical doctor. Id suggest to seek help Try foam rolling and stretching daily for a month and just cardio. Completely cut out all lower body lifts. This should help.
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  6. #6
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    I'm in pain rn from deadlifts, but, do we ever give up? never. Never give up brother
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  7. #7
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    I am not an expert on the topic but I have severely injured my own back (could not walk or stand up without pain for months) and came back to hit even bigger pr's a little less than a year later. Here are the things that helped me:

    Taking time off and doing nothing did not do much for me. Progressive exposure did. There are many articles on this and I know a guy named Jonnie Candito, who I'm sure many people on here have heard of, has many videos on the idea. Basically, the idea is that nothing will heal past the point which your body feels it needs to. For me, this meant daily walks, then light barbell exercise, with minimal loading of the lumbar spine, then extremely submaximal work on the compound lifts combined with heavier work on non-axial loaded movements such as leg press/feet up bench/leg curls or hyperextensions. If at any point I felt something made the pain worse, I backed off and at some points went back to the previous step.

    For best results, and since you can't do much else in the gym, I would combine this with corrective exercises. For me, I heavily worked my obliques, adductors, and abdomen. All of the muscles that are necessary to keep your torso in a safe posture during heavy lifts are important and often people overlook these which results in injury. It's important to note that throughout this time I used static holds and corrective exercises which put me in an advantageous position for axial loading without actually loading my spine. I would do side planks for time, then worked up to adductor supported side planks, and so on.

    When you do get back to a somewhat normal working range, weight wise, it is extremely important to fix the things that led to your injury in the first place. For me, after looking back at squat footage, I found that I had a severe anterior pelvic tilt while squatting that I was mistaking for abdominal stability. Moreover, I was using too much volume at a much too high of an RPE. Coming back into it, I decided to work my volume up with sub maximal loads (RPE 5-6) until I could get to about 2/3 of my normal volume. If you think your previous volume in regards to the main lifts was not excessively high, you could use these sub maximal loads until you get back to your normal volume. It's especially important at this time that you use the corrective exercises and corrected form throughout all of this sub maximal work so that your motor patterns are primed for safe movement when weights get heavy again.

    From there, I made sure to progressively drop volume throughout my blocks as intensity went up and when I wanted to do more volume, made sure I stayed in the 5-7 RPE range. (This may be common knowledge to some but I feel that a lot of people want to go all out in every way possible and it almost always ends badly.) This is important because if you are red lining your training all of the time, not only will you not progress as well, but your body is ready to collapse after every training session, so one wrong movement could do you in.

    Although you hurt yourself doing deadlifts, it is likely that your lumbar is being overworked all the time from over-aggressive training and improper patterns, and the problem simply presented itself during deadlifts.
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