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I was on the bike trainer the other day for about an hour at moderate/high intensity.
I got off and did a couple sets of KB swings.
A few hours later, I developed low back pain. I tried a few mobilizations (Nova from the side on QL before bed, hamstrings, glut). Nothing was really that sensitive.
I woke up today and I am really flexion sensitive. I have no radicular symptoms.
Currently I am sitting on a plane with the large supernova and marc pro. I think I’ll bounce back from quickly but I am looking to make a differential and figure our what what I did to myself. The sequence (HIIT trainer to heavy KB swings) seems dumb in retrospect.
I think this is a disc herniation given how sensitive I am to flexion. I don’t think this is QL or some other deep back muscle spasm. Maybe acute SI inflammation but it’s not really unilateral — along pressure on my sacrum feels some type of way.
This begs a couple questions:
1) Is this harmful and should I avoid doing this to myself in the future? I suspect there is some hormetic effect from this, i.e. strengthening the annulus. Having to lose a couple days or weeks of training obviously not great idea.
2) What is the best way to get back to baseline? I have marc pro on low back now. I think potentially starting the McGill low back exercises (+breath work) if I can tolerate it may be helpful. Do you think I could avoid flexion until I am back to baseline. I think McGill keeps people resting until they are no longer acute.
Thanks in advance for any insights
I would say there was nothing inherently harmful with the activity you were doing, you just overextended yourself and your back wasn’t ready for the work you were demanding out of it. You were fatigued and either form broke down or the demand on the low back was too high. You’re certainly correct in that losing a couple days or weeks of training is not the path you want to go down. McGill is a good place to start and breath work is very helpful. You want to reintroduce gentle movement to the spine without aggravating symptoms. You may have already seen the video, but Kelly recently posted a great video discussing this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SO33_Nhl2Wk
As there are no red flags, I wouldn’t get too caught up in the precise diagnosis. Even with imaging they often show issues that may or may not actually be the origin of your pain and pain does not always mean there was damage. Even something very minor in the back can cause severe pain.
In the meantime you still may find that it helps to desensitize to movement and avoid any stiffness with smashing the area and some incorporated breath work. You have to find anything you can do that is not super irritating and start getting to work. Hammer technique work and try incorporating some hinging and squatting patterns to tolerance but avoid flexed positions which are aggravating. This is also a good time to incorporate some farmer carries or sled work and then build from there. Good luck!