Acceptable Pain in Herniated Disc Recovery Programming Acceptable Pain in Herniated Disc Recovery Programming

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Thread: Acceptable Pain in Herniated Disc Recovery Programming

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2017

    Default Acceptable Pain in Herniated Disc Recovery Programming

    33 Year old male, 6'1" / 220 lbs
    Best lifts: 230 Press / 315 Bench / 440 Squat / 510 Deadlift
    I am an intermediate lifter who was doing HLM programming.

    My back and left leg started experiencing bad sciatica and numbness on April 25, 2019. I got an MRI June 6th, which showed my L5/S1 spewing like a crushed jelly doughnut: Johnson Disc.jpg

    I have since discovered that I have poor posture (maintaining a proper lumbar curve on my hour-long commute immediately reduced the sciatic pain). Also, I have been doing excessive bent-over work the past few months on a fixer-upper house, and I did tweak my back squatting in early April 2019 but I worked through that to the point where I had no back pain before the onset of the sciatica. I figure a combination of these things was enough cumulative stress to herniate the disc at some point.

    Since the onset of the sciatica, I have been trying to execute a recovery protocol with light squats and deadlifts since it seems like so many people on this forum have had luck with that approach. I got up to 315 lbs for three sets of five squats, but the pain got sufficiently bad where I had to back off of that weight down to the bar. Even with perfect form, squatting and deadlifting just the bar still causes sciatic pain down through the hamstring. In fact, just doing an RDL with the bar or doing an air squat causes a sciatic flare-up. Does anyone have any rules of thumb for acceptable levels of pain in the disc recovery process in order to keep the disc from leaking more jelly unnecessarily? Should I only work a range of motion that doesn't cause pain for now? I am not afraid of the pain, but I want to be prudent and not cause unnecessary further damage to the disc.

    Thanks in advance for any input.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    North Texas


    It may well be that the sciatica has nothing to do with the disc. Investigate this possibility.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2017


    I conducted a thorough interrogation of my sciatic nerve with a painful session of squats. It finally broke down and claimed that the culprit of my sciatic pain was a lack of core strength, and that if I only stopped squatting, it would tell me about some moves involving instability and a bosu ball that would sufficiently strengthen my core in a functional way so as to alleviate the pain. I then proceeded to cross examine my L5/S1 disc with a session of deadlifts, but no matter how much pain I inflicted on it, it just looked at me all stupid-like with jelly oozing out of its ugly orifice.


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