Back Injury Without Noticing? Back Injury Without Noticing?

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Thread: Back Injury Without Noticing?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
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    Default Back Injury Without Noticing?

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    Hey SS Coaches,

    For reasons I won't go into here, I had been largely away from the deadlift for about 6-8 weeks. After that time, I returned to it 1 set of 5 at about 80% of the load I left off at. I felt great, no problems at all, and I actually found it easy enough that I wished I had put a little more on the bar. Since this was the weight I had used as a final warmup set 6-8 weeks earlier, I did not think a belt was necessary.

    Even though I felt no pops, pains, or any other oddities in the lift . . . I got up from reading the magazine on the crapper about 24 hours later and started noticing one heck of a low back strain (I've been rehabbing according to the Starr protocol, but it was a bitch . . . it took me about two weeks before workouts started making the injury feel better).

    So, I'm curious. Do you fine folks think this was an injury from the deadlifts that I just didn't notice? Or was it the kind of freak "threw my back out" injury that some people get from tying their shoes or picking up a laundry basket.

    Was it dumb to not wear a belt? I do have some history of back strains, but at much higher loads.

    Thanks for the informed discussion that I am sure will follow!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    For the 10,000,000,000th time - the Starr Protocol is for muscle injuries, not something like you describe. No tear, no Starr Protocol.

    Random back pain in and out is pretty standard. Remember that back pain doesn't correlate with structural signs, that back pain is a normal part of life, and that strength training helps fix or at least manage it.

    Again, the Starr Protocol is for muscle belly injuries. Only.

  3. #3
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    Nov 2018
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    Thanks for the reply, stef.

    I would have also thought the SP would not work for an injury like this until I read this piece by SSC Matt Reynolds: How to Rehab Muscle Strains and Tears | The Art of Manliness

    It specifically contradicts what you’ve said here:

    “Very simply, we’ve seen that it works best for muscle belly injuries — things like strains and torn muscle bellies themselves. It has been our experience that it also works quite well with back injuries associated with disc problems (herniation, facet joint issues, sciatica, etc.).”

    And even argues that Starr devises the protocol for a back injury:

    “The story is that Bill had been struggling with an excruciating pain in his lower back — almost certainly a herniated disc that was causing him sciatic nerve pain. He was incredibly frustrated because he had dealt with this pain for months and couldn’t train. One day, having become totally fed up with the back pain, he decided to train on it anyway.”

    My original question was really about whether or not I should suspect the return to deadlift training in a back injury that showed up 24 hour later (or if it might just be rando), but I am real confused on whether or not SP is appropriate for this now, too.

  4. #4
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    Opinions vary. You are, of course, free to rehab your back any way you want to, but we have found that daily exposure to 3 sets of 25 for two weeks is not helpful for a low back tweak. The Starr story is true, but he was wrong about several things.

  5. #5
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    For reference on what we actually recommend and why: Back Rehab

    "I started back at the gym the following day. I worked the squat up in sets of five, using pain as my guide. I eventually stopped at 315 for 3x5. This was about 2/3 of my 1 RM, which had been 465 done prior to deployment. I did a set of 2 at 405 on my deadlift. . . A moment to explain my decision to work in sets of 5s. Many who will read this are familiar with the Bill Starr rehabilitation protocol, working sets of 10s, 15s, and even 20s to induce blood flow to the injured area, and prevent scar tissue from forming in a way that ultimately affects full recovery. I started that day with a set of 15. Beyond about 10, movement bothered my back. I did not have injured musculature, I had problems with my spinal structure. Weight was not the issue; any sort of spinal flexion was the issue. I needed to work up to a reasonable weight and ensure zero spinal flexion."

  6. #6
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    Nov 2018
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    Rip, Stef,

    Thanks for the clarification on methods for rehabbing back tweaks. For what it's worth, I did find Matt's article at AofM very confusing when it comes to SS's position on the matter.

    Anyway, I am still curious if I should suspect I inflicted the tweak while training after a layoff from the deadlift for a month and a half. I did not feel anything until 24 hours after the session, and I wonder if I need to be more careful (by using a belt, etc.) when returning from such time off.

    Thanks!

  7. #7
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    I wish this weren't true, but sometimes it's impossible to identify what tweaked your back. Human backs will tweak, and you have to learn how to train through it. 5s are the way it should be done, because you can keep a set of 5 in tight extension, and you can build the necessary volume with multiple sets. Higher reps tend to fatigue into flexion.

  8. #8
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    Nov 2018
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    starting strength coach development program
    Thanks, Rip. This has been very useful.

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