Daily Mobility Exercises by Dr. Kelly Starrett Forums Back Returning to squat + deadlift after lumbar herniation

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    • #70890
      AvatarKyle Nadler

      hi guys, well a few months ago I noticed I had this lower back soreness that I initially assumed was just muscles soreness because I returned to the gym after over 6 months without one.  However when I struggled even deadlifting 135lbs (and my 1RM used to be close to 400) I knew something was up.

      So I went to the doctor’s, got diagnosed with a lumbar herniated disc, and got some painkillers and a printed out page of rehab exercises to do.  I’ve been doing them, but obviously I want to return to actual squatting and deadlifting as soon as possible.
      Since I’ve gone through a similar situation when I partially tore a rotator cuff, I thought I would try squatting today and see how it would go.  I worked myself up to 185lbsx5 (which is not even intermediate level according to strstd.com, and pretty light for me) with the intent of doing 3 sets, but only did 2 as I started to get a dull ache at the spot of my herniation.  I then didn’t even attempt deadlifts and just continued with the rest of my workout.  Even right now it’s still a bit sore or at least “noticeable” if that makes any sense.
      Would this be a good course of action, seeing how much I can do each workout and stopping when it starts to hurt, and slowly increasing my strength, or should I stay completely away from squats and deadlifts until I feel pretty much 100%?  Even after 1.5 years, my bad shoulder is still occasionally sore after a workout and is always the weak link when I’m on that final rep of a bench press or OHP.  Just using that as a comparison.
    • #74468
      AvatarNathan Richer

      I am not sure where you are in your rehab, but if you still feel pain down there it could affect your form, thereby making advanced and heavy movements very dangerous.

      I personally think that you should let it rest until the disc is completely healed.  Then rebuild as you describe.  You could blow it out completely if you don’t, which would set you back even more than now, perhaps even permanently.  
      Spend the time to heal. Don’t waste it. Yes it sucks. I’ve been there too.  Get pain free, then rebuild.  You can always do air movements to keep working the patterns. Also, practice bracing in the meantime and good posture.
    • #74530
      AvatarPatricia DeCino

      I agree with David Shen that posture is def important!  While the exercises and pain killers may have helped to ease some of the pain and strengthen up the muscles supporting your spine, it is unlikely that they did anything to decrease the herniation.  Depending how bad the herniation any further damage could make your situation much worse.   

      I would not attempt heavy dead lifts until the issue is completely resolved.  

      You may also want to get your actually spine evaluated. Research is showing us that in certain positions of the spine, such as having a decreased lumbar curve can greatly increase your risk for disc herniation as opposed to have a curve more towards the “ideal”. Obtaining an ideal structure or close to it would also greatly increase any potential functionality that you could obtain. 
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