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  1. #1
    Touch My Monkey YoSiBuff's Avatar
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    Angry Thoughts and Prayers for me Brahs (Lower Back)

    So I've been hitting the weights hard since '88 and have had many, many great years in the gym with some breaks here and there for medical issues. But over the past 5 years I've encountered an increasing frequency of injuries to my lower back, despite a massive increase in pre-workout stretching and, recently, dramatically reducing the amount of weight that I'm working with.

    I keep thinking if I just increase the strength of my lower back muscles, it will help.. But nah. It has happened to me about 12 times and each time I'm either doing a deadlift, or a cable row, a leg press, or some other exercise involving my back and I get a sharp tearing or stabbing pain in the lower right back near the bottom of my spine. Sometimes I'm in a little pain for 2-3 days and consider myself lucky, but four of the times I could barely walk at all for a few days and then it took a few weeks to fully recover. It's not technique, I've learned to be very, very careful with my form. And for ****s sake, I'm spending 30 minutes every single day now just stretching, so it's not that either. And now I know it's not even the amount of weight, most recently the **** happened doing an exercise with 1/10th the normal weight load.

    I've even taken several months off from lifting to give it time to heal but eventually it happens again. Anyways, I've seen Chiropractors, doctors, and sports rehab guys in the past and have tried various things. Stretches, back exercises, acupuncture, massage, **** like that. Usually I'm good for a while but eventually it happens again. Online they tell you it could be a disc, a nerve, a muscle tear, your back or your hips. Who the hell really knows, right? None of the doctors I've seen could ever pinpoint the exact cause. I even had one guy tell me "Well, it's going to happen from now on and you just have to get used to it.." ****ing what? Being immobilized for 3-4 days and missing work frequently is not an acceptable outcome.

    I've self medicated and healed and hoped it would go away long enough, at this point I suspect it's a disc issue. I'm going to bite the bullet and get an X-Ray and imaging done on my spine. Wish me luck. Working out is easily the #1 thing I love to do so if it's a disc or whatever, I guess lifting is pretty much done for me. I'm not going to have screws inserted or whatever the hell is necessary to keep grinding. Is there hope for my sorry ass? I'm not Ronnie Coleman y'all, I'm natty and I've lifted purely for the love of it. If you've gone through a string of back injuries like this and came out the other side still able to lift please let me know what you did and how you did it. Give me some hope!

    I'll update this once I get an X-Ray and images back and find out if my discs are jacked up or not.
    - I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I'm all outta bubble gum.
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    Registered User BromanianDL's Avatar
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    There is still hope.... after you take a long break and heal. I recommend the book "Back Mechanic" by stuart mcgill. You can get back into things slowly after going through his back program. You will need to be really careful about bracing hard and not allowing your lower back to round during any lift. Maybe switch to lunges, single leg deadlifts, and one arm db row once you feel better.
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  3. #3
    Registered User Payton1221's Avatar
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    I think that as we age we must find work-arounds when an exercise just doesn't sit well with us for whatever reason. I can't do flat bench, but I can do incline. And sometimes I can't even do incline barbell, so then I have to do incline dumbbells.

    I'd drop the exercises that bother you. Deads are one of the greatest exercises of all, but I stopped doing them. I never was good at them, and unlike you, I think my form was off, but they bother me so I stick with pull-ups for my back. Oh, and regular pull-ups or chin-ups bother my wrists so I have to do them with a neutral grip

    Do what you can, while you can.
    Pull-Up PR: https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=177233951
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  4. #4
    Powerlifting in disguise induced_drag's Avatar
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    I have to say, if you have been struggling for years with this and never got it diagnosed, that is just idiotic. If you have seen "Chiropractors, doctors, and sports rehab guys" and none has recommended going to an Ortho and getting a MRI done, then you really have done nothing.

    X-rays wont show you jack and if the Dr you are seeing has not told you that, find another. Often they will 'start' with an x-ray as it is cheap, but you need MRI done for any real diagnosis of soft tissue/disk issues.


    You say this has happend to you 12 times and the after effects last for day and sometimes you cant even walk. I hope you realize how dumb that sound. Maybe once or twice, but you have done this over and over and never actually sought to find the issue?

    Your statement "I guess lifting is pretty much done for me" sounds like some whining and feeling sorry for yourself crap.

    I got rear ended about 2 years ago. Spinal fracture and 3 disk injuries. 2-displaced, and 1-buldging @L5 S1 pushing on my S1 nerve. WORST pain ever in my life, and have had some pretty bad injuries...eg broken neck that left me with frontal brain injury..etc. NOTHING like this back injury.

    I am still working out. Doing the best I can. I have worked my A$$ off rehabbing, stretching, and strengthening to do what I can. I have given up pushing very heavy. I just have to force myself to really be aware of my back and tightening my core with lifting. 225 bent rows now feel 'sketchy' whereas I would do working sets with 405 prior to my injury. Heck most of the time I dont go past 135 if it does not feel 'right'.

    Start by getting a 'real' diagnosis. Then dont underestimate the progress you can make with rehab. Most docs dont know either because in their experience very few patients will ever put in the intensive work on their own. I was told an option for me could be several screws in my spine, facet injections...etc. I did none of that.

    Facet injections are only temp. They can serve to verify source of pain if you are going to go with surgery later and know 100% the source of the pain. But I did not opt for that since I knew I was not getting surgery. I did not want to mask the pain, because I wanted to be aware of what caused it.

    Rehab works. I went from weeks of not being able to get out of be without drugs to getting completely off pain meds. Have not been on any pain meds for over a year.

    This was a year after my accident and just over a year ago. I tested to see where I was or if I lost strength by taking a year off squatting. I have not squatted heavy since. It was just important for me to know. My back was still 'hurt' here, but I just had to approach the life very carefully. I dont risk aggravating it otherwise.

    Understand the nature of the injury, then>>>
    REHAB REHAB REHAB


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    420 Bench (paused) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJ2_Q-TLIB8
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  5. #5
    Registered User brit-iron's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Payton1221 View Post
    I think that as we age we must find work-arounds when an exercise just doesn't sit well with us for whatever reason. I can't do flat bench, but I can do incline. And sometimes I can't even do incline barbell, so then I have to do incline dumbbells.

    I'd drop the exercises that bother you. Deads are one of the greatest exercises of all, but I stopped doing them. I never was good at them, and unlike you, I think my form was off, but they bother me so I stick with pull-ups for my back. Oh, and regular pull-ups or chin-ups bother my wrists so I have to do them with a neutral grip

    Do what you can, while you can.
    Yes. As much as I like deadlifts, my back has felt better not doing them in recent months. I've been doing neutral grip pull ups too for the same reasons. Oh and good luck with finding out the problem, keep us posted.
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  6. #6
    Registered User Garage Rat's Avatar
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    Stuart McGill is an excellent source for back rehab info as mentioned above.

    You may also want to research the reverse hyper machine and it's benefits specifically coach Louie Simmons.
    He has claimed to come back from a major low back issue using the reverse hyper.
    It's worth researching IMO.
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  7. #7
    Powerlifting in disguise induced_drag's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Garage Rat View Post
    Stuart McGill is an excellent source for back rehab info as mentioned above.

    You may also want to research the reverse hyper machine and it's benefits specifically coach Louie Simmons.
    He has claimed to come back from a major low back issue using the reverse hyper.
    It's worth researching IMO.
    2 months after my injury I bought a reverse hyper for the house and inversion boots.

    I did a few pt sessions and the guy taught me a lot. I was amazed at how some things which almost seemed silly and pointless made a big difference!
    RAW lifts
    635 Dead http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mATRBZ0gwdg
    585x7 Dead reps http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yf2ZkdNNNQ
    420 Bench (paused) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJ2_Q-TLIB8
    535 Squat https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdgVaiTi4-8&feature=youtu.be
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  8. #8
    Registered User kyle38's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Payton1221 View Post
    I think that as we age we must find work-arounds when an exercise just doesn't sit well with us for whatever reason. I can't do flat bench, but I can do incline. And sometimes I can't even do incline barbell, so then I have to do incline dumbbells.

    I'd drop the exercises that bother you. Deads are one of the greatest exercises of all, but I stopped doing them. I never was good at them, and unlike you, I think my form was off, but they bother me so I stick with pull-ups for my back. Oh, and regular pull-ups or chin-ups bother my wrists so I have to do them with a neutral grip

    Do what you can, while you can.

    Agreed. One thing I've learned with my right shoulder, is you have to rehab slow sometimes. And while I am mostly fine now, it still gets aggravated from time to time. And doc still say I should get an MRI, which I put off.

    I had an ER doc saying I'd need another surgery and he didn't expect I'd be able to lift 15lbs again over my head. That was 2008.

    Never had that surgery. 3 screws from 1 surgery, a bad AC joint injury, and 2 fractures of the clavicle, dozens of full/partia dislocations, and a handful of secondary issues like swimmers shoulder, bursitis, and neck problems on that side, but I pushed through it. And still have full range of motion.

    It can be done. I first started working my shoulders with weighted pack pushups and weighted pullups. At that time I did not have full range of motion and had to worry about dislocations. I forget all the rehab terms but it was using open vs closed lifts, so at worst I would just be on the floor, not have real weight on top of me.
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  9. #9
    I love my power hour MrCarrot's Avatar
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    Good luck, I had what sounds like a similar injury after lifting a heavy garden slab. For years my back was never right afterwards. Then when I started on the weights I injured it again doing barbell rows and was in pain for days, and couldn't do certain exercises for weeks.

    I did go to a physio but in the UK it's not easy to get appointments and they certainly won't give you an MRI unless you have a really serious and ongoing case that isn't resolved by other means.

    I stopped doing deadlifts and back squats. It's been over a year now and I'm pleased to say my back feels 99% better. In fact I've started deadlifting again recently. But now and again I can still feel a little twinge so I try and be extra careful. I think it's just a case of doing what you feel is safe and avoiding what you think isn't. I've found barbell rows feel very dodgy, yet one arm dumbbell rows feel fine.
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    Registered User radrd's Avatar
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    You may be past this, but these videos helped me.


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    Touch My Monkey YoSiBuff's Avatar
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    Thank you all for the advice. I agree with brit-iron I have been dumb as hell for not having my spine imaged sooner. I've always battled through various gym injuries, pulls, strains, etc. and in the past I have always been able to bounce back without issue after giving myself enough time to rest and heal.

    This is the first time where I know I couldn't get past it on my own and definitely need some real medical assistance.

    I'm checking out this reverse hyper right now and it looks solid. I have not tried this yet but I'm excited to work this into my routine after I find out what's up with my discs.
    - I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I'm all outta bubble gum.
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    Touch My Monkey YoSiBuff's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by radrd View Post
    You may be past this, but these videos helped me.
    Kick ass, I found this video a few weeks ago and I've been doing these daily and so far it has definitely helped with the pain. Jeff is a cool dude, I'm going to try the exercises soon.
    - I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I'm all outta bubble gum.
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  13. #13
    Powerlifting in disguise induced_drag's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by YoSiBuff View Post
    Thank you all for the advice. I agree with brit-iron I have been dumb as hell for not having my spine imaged sooner. I've always battled through various gym injuries, pulls, strains, etc. and in the past I have always been able to bounce back without issue after giving myself enough time to rest and heal.

    This is the first time where I know I couldn't get past it on my own and definitely need some real medical assistance.

    I'm checking out this reverse hyper right now and it looks solid. I have not tried this yet but I'm excited to work this into my routine after I find out what's up with my discs.
    Titan makes a economy version which is still sturdy as hell for a great price. They got sued by rouge and can no longer call it a reverse hyperextension machine but they still sell it. It's pretty much an exact copy.
    RAW lifts
    635 Dead http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mATRBZ0gwdg
    585x7 Dead reps http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yf2ZkdNNNQ
    420 Bench (paused) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJ2_Q-TLIB8
    535 Squat https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdgVaiTi4-8&feature=youtu.be
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    For those wanting to try an unconventional back strengthening exercise, let me suggest biking. I too had a major back issue about 10 years ago, and I'd get a recurrence every 6-12 months for the first few years, but it seemed to go away for good when I started biking for cardio. I think the benefit comes when you're out of the saddle cranking on the pedals in a slow cadence as you climb a steep hill where the hard left/right cadence actually strengthens your core and stabilizing muscles around your spine. I've asked other bikers who claim their backs are stronger since they started biking too.

    For a real poor man's reverse hyper, I took a cheap roman chair that I bought at Walmart and elevated it on cinder blocks and then face in the opposite direction as to how you're supposed to use it. So instead of my upper legs/glutes sitting on the padded seat, my stomach does. Instead of my torso being cantilevered over the padded seat, my legs dangle off the end. For resistance, you have to cradle a dumbbell with your ankles although I suppose rubber bands could be used too.
    Pull-Up PR: https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=177233951
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    Registered User mel2221's Avatar
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    >> So I've been hitting the weights hard since '88

    I started lifting in 1987 in Tempe, AZ at the Beauvais gym. Remember them?

    I have also struggled with back pain since the mid-1990's. I am not a big time lifter like many around here, but I work very hard to stay in the game at a high level even as I approach 60 years old.

    Here is my experience.

    Doctor's are pretty much clueless. If they cannot cut you up, then there is no solution. And cutting you up rarely means success. But, they get paid!!!!

    In my situation, the back pain is a combination of tight hamstrings and weak abs. And by weak abs, I mean anything less than maximum strong abs.

    When my back pain is acute, which happens after a period of laziness and in-activity, I have to start with hamstring stretches. Bodyweight straight leg deadlifts and good mornings first thing in the morning. 20 is a good number. If the pain is bad, I have to support my upper body by placing my arms on my thighs to get through the motion.

    I must also get maximum strength in my abs. There is an ab muscle called the TA... Trans Abdominis. This is the guy responsible for supporting the lower back.

    When I am strong and pain free (well, pain free in the lower back anyway!), here is my routine.

    2x 200 full sit-ups, feet are supported by a pillow under my bed. While resting between sets, I will do some 10+ second supermans.
    P90X AbRipperX... Twice in the same workout (back to back). Takes 32 minutes
    3x3-minute planks
    100 butterfly kicks
    A custom ab workout I have been doing since the early 1990s...
    5 exercises, 30 reps each, done 3 times (takes about 30 minutes).
    1. Crunches
    2. Left side crunches, right side crunches.
    3. Left side cross over leg lift, right side cross over leg lift (more of a glute exercise, but gives the abs some rest).
    4. Bicycles(crossover elbow to knee)
    5. Leg lifts. I put my fists under my hips and lift the legs. slowly!

    And a bonus. Single leg dead lifts. Great for balance, hamstring stretching and strengthening the lower back. Add a 25lb plate when you can.

    I generally do many of these every week and definitely do all of them over a 2 week period.

    Good luck.
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    Registered User Cantplankwell's Avatar
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    I have minor back issues: degenerative disc. It causes a mild constant lower back soreness, it will only get progressively worse over time. I have been to chiropractors, doctors, physio, osteopaths etc. Covid is setting my finances back for probably a couple of years...I doubt I will ever retire at 60 which was the target...I have to be healthy to keep working well past that...no risks.

    Its pretty much something I have to deal with:.....its called aging....however it can be slowed or even stopped at its present level. This is what I have done:

    About a month ago I began modifying a few things:

    I dont squat below parallel anymore, before it was an olympic style high bar....deep, also I dont do full cleans or snatches...infact I have shelved oly lifting and its derivatives for awhile. Deep squats, cleans and snatches can put an unnatural load on the low back for some of us. Currently I am also moving away from anything that can put my low back into a shearing kind of move such as any kind of standing barbell row, or swinging kettlebells, I am replacing these with body supported rows such as a "Seal row". Conventional Deadlifts are fine so far...so long as they are light. I have moved away from cleans or snatch pulls style deads, as long as my spinal column is more or less vertical I am good. Additionally I have given up doing anything less than 5 reps, and I have only been adding weight when the movement becomes too easy, I no longer care about numbers. No more heavy conditioning either, when I do cardio ...in order of importance: walking, light jogs, cycling, rowing. I am also giving up ice hockey...it was interrupted last winter by covid and cancelled outright this year. I may not go back when it resumes...if it ever does anytime soon.

    Oh as well I avoid sitting for too long, or collapsing into into deep soft chairs and couches for long periods.

    You really need to do what is necessary to preserve the natural curve of the spine, and have natural movement when you train.

    So far this has helped tremendously.
    Strength + Cardio + Proprioception = dominance
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  17. #17
    Registered User xTeTe's Avatar
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    Good luck to you. I've been dealing with lower back arthritis for a while now. Try to find exercises that work around it if you can... and make sure you strengthen your core as much as possible.
    Amateur boxer turned bodybuilder...

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  18. #18
    Registered User Form4U's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by xTeTe View Post
    Good luck to you. I've been dealing with lower back arthritis for a while now. Try to find exercises that work around it if you can... and make sure you strengthen your core as much as possible.
    First and foremost, see a MD for testing that will accurately diagnose your problem. A good physical therapist can provide good advice and exercises to improve your condition. That said, there are things you can do to continue working out, making progress and avoid further injury.

    My shoulders hurt so much from doing heavy bench presses, I stopped doing them and relied on peck machines. By chance, I tried doing bench presses on a new smith machine added to my gym and discovered by changing my wide grip on the bar to a shoulder wide grip, elbows in, eliminated the pain. This was after an orthopedic surgeon told me both shoulders needed to be reconstructed. After this diagnosis, I looked into stem cell treatments and the x-ray ordered read a severe separation and arthritic condition. I decided to simply change my bench technique to what worked for me and focused more on form and light weight. By doing my bench movement more slowly and focusing on stressing the muscle for growth, I am back to making gains without past pain. I do take Tylenol for arthritic pain, but making gains.

    My L-back has bulging discs, I can't do deads or squats, so I take a similar approach as on my bench. On the smith machine, set the bar about knee high and try lifting a lighter weight from there in a slow motion, again, focusing on stressing the muscle, do the same for upright rows. For my legs, I use the sled and seated machines for leg extensions and leg curls to failure and you will make progress. Put you ego on lifting heavy aside and slow you movements down with good form and you will be amazed at how much more you can benefit from the movements.

    Of course, each person is a little different, so with any injury it is best to see a competent MD whose opinion you can trust. Perhaps, best to contact a physical therapist in you area for a recommendation on an MD who can best address your specific problem, but don't just give up lifting. In my case I found another way and still making progress despite the MD diagnosis. I swear, in my case the working out has been beneficial and I feel better than when I stopped working out, just find a way that works for you without making your injury worse.
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