Low back pain/injury exacerbated significantly by squats/deadlifts Low back pain/injury exacerbated significantly by squats/deadlifts

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Thread: Low back pain/injury exacerbated significantly by squats/deadlifts

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2019

    Default Low back pain/injury exacerbated significantly by squats/deadlifts

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    I have a lower back pain/injury that is quite debilitating and is unfortunately worsened by squatting and deadlifting. I was wondering if anyone could provide any insight onto a path back to lifting, as I have tried many optiosn and nothign really seems to be working. It has now been almost 1.5 years since the original ‘injury’.

    The story:

    Previously, I was approaching decency in my lifts - I squatted 130 kg for 5s, deadlifted 170 kg for 5s. I had been lifting for a long period of time (~5 years) but had suffered a lot of injuries from other sports that always resulted in fairly large setbacks so my overall progress was slow. However, I was in good health, and fairly satisfied with my progress, and then in December 2017 I had an exam I needed to study desperately for. I sat down for 2 days and then the next day I had low back pain so bad I could barely get out of bed. Not to be deterred, I dragged myself to the gym and attempted to warm up – but while warming up for squats I had to abandon the set because the pain became so bad. Since then, I’ve never been pain free.
    Basically, everything seems to cause the pain to flare up – squatting and deadlifting, even lat pulldowns – and even outside the gym, things like playing casual soccer or tennis or something. Absolutely anything seems to exacerbate it and cause a flare, and then I am in extreme pain.

    I’ve always tried to get back into squatting and deadlifting ASAP as that seems to be the conventional wisdom in these parts, but the problem is it actively makes the pain worse – it gets worse throughout the sets, and then the following days I will be in agony. Squatting seems less of an insult than deadlifting, but I have had some terrible flares from squats, and even at very light weights (30-60 kg) I am usually in significantly worse pain the next day, which remains for days to weeks. (I tried the Starr rehab protocol with deadlifts and it was causing worsening pain.)

    Alternatively, I’ve tried to rest for up to 2 weeks (that’s as much as I can stand before I start going stir crazy), and that seems ok for getting back to a ‘baseline’ and avoiding flares, but the problem is there is no real improvement.
    I have seen 2 different physios and I abide by their seemingly pointless rehabilitation exercise regimes and it does not seem to help me get beyond this baseline point of mild pain that flares with any meaningful activity.
    I have seen a chiropractor who was clearly a pseudoscientific buffoon.
    I have seen an osteopath, who told me to avoid all lower body exercises. He ordered an MRI, which showed nothing, and told me if I avoided lower body exercises it would swiftly heal (it didn’t).

    On the pain itself:

    It is elicited by both flexion and extension of the lumbar spine. It is quite low, below the level of the iliac crests. It is bilateral but significantly worse on the left side. It feels paravertebral, but there may also be a component that is quite central. It responds to a moderate extent to anti-inflammatories. At rest it is quite mild – like a 2/10 or so, but after a flare it is often cripplingly painful.

    I'm 31 years old, 160 pounds (yes, I have withered away in the past year and yes this is causing me great distress), 5'9". I am still doing benches, presses, although they unfortunately seem to bother my back a little bit. I can’t really imagine not doing anything at all, it’s hard enough for me not being able to squat and deadlift.

    Any thoughts on how to proceed would be appreciated. Have I simply pissed this off too many times by trying to resume squatting/deadlifting too quickly over the past 1.5 years and need a big layoff?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    North Texas


    Get a second radiology opinion on the MRI.


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