Sleep importance and back problems Sleep importance and back problems

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Thread: Sleep importance and back problems

  1. #1
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    Default Sleep importance and back problems

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    Two unrelated topics, but I didn't want to clog up your message board too much. . .

    Background: I'm 45, 6'6", about 250# or so. I got "serious" about "fitness" with crossfit about 4 years ago, stopped it two years ago. We can re-hash why that was, but it was for the typical reasons. Thereafter, I rehabbed an injury (one that pre-dated crossfit), and continued with basic strength work with some conditioning thrown in after discovering your book and this website about two years ago.

    On the subject of sleep, I've suffered severe insomnia for at least 10 years, maybe more. I'd really plateaued on my strength work over the past 9 months or year. Finally, my insomnia just became unbearable and I saw my MD about it. Long story short, I'm a month into treatment, and my sleep is improving. Lo and behold, in that same month, all my lifts have improved. Coincidence? Possibly. But I doubt it. I've made no radical changes elsewhere in my life, haven't gained any weight, and haven't changed my diet. Obviously, I'll know more with the benefit of more time, but I wanted to just reinforce for others the importance of sleep.

    On the subject of back pain. I was on the crew team in college and herniated two discs (L4-L5, L5-S1). I used to tell people, truthfully, that I had not had a pain free day since I was 18 years old. Used to. I can now tell you that my back has never felt better (knock on wood).

    How bad did my back used to be? The worst flare-up occurred in 2002 or 2003. Over the course of a week it deteriorated to where, one night, I was forced to crawl from bed to the bathroom to pee, did so, fainted from the pain and could not crawl out of the bathroom -- much less back to bed. Unable to move further without fainting, sweats and nausea, I spent the night on the bathroom floor. I called the MD in the morning seeking a Rx, and he said I had to call the ambulance. When the paramedics arrived, they could not roll me onto the back board until they gave me not 1, but 2 morphine injections. I spent a couple of days thereafter in the hospital on a dilaudid drip. I remember the doctor telling me I had to get up and walk to the end of the hall and back and I almost cried.

    As I said above, I discovered the book and your website two years ago. My back had already improved a lot from crossfit, but I still had chronic pain -- more like chronic stiffness/minor soreness with occasional minor pain. The past two years of sucking it up and squatting and deadlifting -- even when I had another minor flare up -- seem to have changed my life. I am completely pain/soreness/stiffness free for the first time since before rowing in college. It has taken a lot of time, effort and dedication to get there, but I love how I feel, and I guess I'm middle aged.

    My only frustration is my inability to convince my friends, family and peers, who have seen me suffer through my entire adult life, that squatting and deadlifting have been my salvation.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
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    A nice endorsement. Thanks. Maybe we should have an endorsement forum.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    Maybe we should have an endorsement forum.
    definitely. I've sent people a combo of threads like this one trying to help people, promote SS etc. I think it'd be great to give them a single link with a whole bunch of these for people to read & search for people who have overcome their/similar issues by using the program.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    A nice endorsement. Thanks. Maybe we should have an endorsement forum.
    I can add a section to the FAQ if you'd like and link to some of the more interesting ones. There are quite a few, especially from people who have/had conditions/injuries that often prompt doctors to contraindicate lifting that I think would be beneficial to people to have in one place.

    It would be nice and straightforward, as opposed to the crazy, byzantine labor of trying to make sense out of nutrition and injury stuff, which I have obviously been putting off completing.

  5. #5
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    We would be forever in your debt. Which we already are anyway.

  6. #6
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    T Jones, have you made any changes/accomodations to the program? How many days do you squat? 5 rep sets?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by quagmire View Post
    T Jones, have you made any changes/accomodations to the program? How many days do you squat? 5 rep sets?
    I started with a linear progression, pretty much as written, but with some conditioning thrown in. After a few re-sets, I tried Wendler 5/3/1 "boring but big" template for awhile, but saw little progress.

    I spent a few months recently seeing how heavy I could go with a set of 20 squats, so I would do that set of 20 twice a week adding a small amount of weight every work out. During this time, I also worked up to a heavy-ish set of 5 once a week. I eventually did 190# for 20 but got tired of wanting to puke after work outs. I don't think there was much more in the tank anyway.

    I continue to squat 3x/week. Two of those days consist of 3 sets of 5. The third day I just work up to a heavy single and then do a back off set of 5 at about 75% of my most recent working weight. Sometimes I'll substitute front squats that day just for variety.

    I now deadlift 1x/week, doing 3 sets of 3.

    With all that said, I'm far, far weaker than almost everyone on the board. (My best working weights for sets of 5: BS 245#; DL 290#; P 145#; BP 195#; PC 175#.)

    I like to attribute my weakness to poor leverages, but it probably has a lot more to do with being a pussy or being old. Still, I continue to see gains and I don't want to gain any more weight (I started at 230#, I'm currently a bit over 250#, and I have a gut). What matters to me is that I feel great, I'm able to ski better than ever, and I'm in decent shape for hiking with a heavy pack.

  8. #8
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    Thomas,

    I'll second your claim that SS is a godsend. Oddly, I have similar problems with my back - L4-L5 and L5-S1 herniations that impinge on my nerves and for a couple months caused unbearable sciatic pain. Though I never had to call an ambulance or was hospitalized, it was rather terrifying as a 23 year old who completed 3 triathlons (1 sprint, 2 olympic distance) the previous year that I couldn't hardly walk around the block without tearing up in pain.

    Lucky for me, the doc cleared me to "let the pain be my guide" a at the end of November, though he told me to avoid squats and deadlifts or other things that might increase my intraabdominal pressure (for reasons I can understand, as it did, previously increase my pain level). I ignored the second part, embraced the first part of his plan and met with Jordan, who set me up on LP, which I'm still running. My back has never felt better (the spasms that plagued me for years and impeded my ability to kick my legs up on a chair or sit up straight on the floor with my legs out are gone) and the sciatica still bothers me, but nowhere near the same level it did 2 months ago. I'm actually starting to notice it more now simply because of its infrequency.

    Current work sets while still on LP
    Squat - 265x5
    Pull - 340x5
    Press - 115x3
    Bench - 180x3
    Clean - 170x3x5

    And I did 3 chins today at 6'2, 220 lbs

  9. #9
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    I will throw my two cents in as well, since two dr's and one Chiro have told me I probably wouldn't last long in my chosen profession (Firefighter). After years of dicking around with running it wasn't until crossfit (hold the bashing please I have reformed and it led me here) and transitioning to regular lifting (currently texas method at 38 years ) that I have been pain free. The medical community is coming along because my current arthritis specialist encourages squatting and deadlifting.

  10. #10
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    T Jones and others dealing with back pain:

    How hard are your working sets? That is, how hard do you push yourselves?
    Do you ever come close to missing a rep?

    Its been 1 year and 4 months since I hurt my back with BB training.
    About 3 months ago, on the suggestion of this forum, I decided to start on squats again.
    After 3 months of training, I am now up to 127.5 pounds for 3 sets of 12, twice a week. Back pain and sciatica get worse on the day of the training (later in the day), and the next day. But then improve a bit, so on average I'm a bit better off than 3 months ago.
    I will add in deadlifts once I get to 175 pounds on the squat (will switch to 5 rep sets on the squat once I hit 155 for 12 reps).

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