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Workouts for back injury/pain.

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  • Workouts for back injury/pain.

    I injured my back on a trampoline about 12 or 13 years ago. Being young, dumb and stubborn I just dealt with it. A few years ago I had a really bad flare-up, bending over to check my email of all things, and finally broke down and went to the doctor. They did an MRI and it turns out I have a fractured vertebrae and two bulging discs. I wasn't really given any advice on dealing with it, other than finding a new job since mine is very physical (this hasn't happened because I'm not going to find another job around here that I only work three days a week and get paid $20 an hour).

    Anyway, I'm looking for some type of workout or exercises that can help with the soreness. It seems like the more I "baby" my back, the worse it gets but I still can't do lots of heavy lifting (the main reason I gave up on weights). Pilates, yoga, stretching, all of the above?

  • #2
    Dan, I have some experience with bulging discs (but not fractured vertebrae). I'm guessing your bulges are down where the lumbar meets the sacrum? That is the usual problem spot. Here are the things that helped me:

    1) Posture, for prevention. Whole books have been written on this, but the main idea here is to maintain a J-curve at the bottom of your spine. The L5-S0 disc is naturally wedge-shaped, so making the spine straight by tucking your pelvis (especially while sitting) is just asking for herniation. Keep your pelvis tilted slightly forward at all times. When sitting, imagine that you have a tail, and that it needs to flow out behind you, not be tucked between your legs. (Does that make any sense at all?)

    2) Traction, for treatment. You can hang from a pull-up bar or do yoga poses, but the methods that work the best for me are zero-impact sledgehammer swings, chair traction (holding yourself upright in a dip position, palms on the armrests, butt dangling), and hanging upside down by the ankles (inversion tables are the easiest way to achieve this). I also found that doing inverted sit-ups while dangling was occasionally a magic bullet that instantly stopped back pain.

    3) Tweak your bed, for both prevention and treatment. If your bed is too hard or too soft, you will experience the most discomfort after about an hour of being awake, and it will mostly subside by afternoon. It took me forever to figure this out (I'm not the fastest learner). Also, sleeping on your side is the best way to keep a neutral spine posture so that the body can heal.

    4) Walking, for daily maintenance. The discs lack blood vessels, so the only way to move nutrients in and waste products out is by gentle compression/decompression, for which walking is perfect.

    5) Weight loss, to lighten the load. In case you have a significant amount of weight to lose.

    6) Heavy weight lifting, to build core strength. The stronger your core, the more evenly distributed the weight on your spinal column. Obviously you can't do this when your condition is acute, but it should be on your radar when you start feeling better to prevent a relapse.

    Hope this is helpful for you at all. And good luck recuperating. Back pain makes life miserable for sure.


    • #3
      Thanks for the quick reply, Timothy. I just found my diagnostic report and here's what it says (condensed version, anyway):
      T12: Mild to moderate compression
      L4-L5: Large diffuse disc protrusion indents the thecal sac
      L5-S1: Moderate but focal disc protrusion

      1. I really do need to work on my posture as I have a great tendancy to slouch. Slouching does make my back feel better at the time, but it gets instantly sore when I move.

      2. I'll have to try some of the traction methods. I've wanted to buy an inversion table for years, but don't want to waste the money if it doesn't help.

      3. We recently got a memory foam mattress topper and it seemed to help at first, but lately it doesn't seem to do anything. I usually do sleep on my side, but sometimes end up on my back.

      4. My wife wants to start walking anyway, so that's doable.

      5. I'm not overweight, but do have a slight "spare tire" I'd like to get rid of.

      6. There's days that I'm ready to go rip some heavy sandbags off the ground. Today is not one of those days. I need to remake my sandbags so they are ready when I feel the urge.


      • #4
        One other thing. Does anyone know if there are any contraindications for getting massages with this type of injury?


        • #5
          I have a protruding or bulging disc (L5S1) and sciatica. I was shown Mckenzie exercises by a physical therapist to help with my back problems. I used Google and was able to pull up demonstrations of the exercises.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Autumnrose View Post
            I have a protruding or bulging disc (L5S1) and sciatica. I was shown Mckenzie exercises by a physical therapist to help with my back problems. I used Google and was able to pull up demonstrations of the exercises.
            Thank you. I'll look that up right now.


            • #7
              I injured my back in highschool trying to deadlift way more than I should have with crappy form. I felt something pop and it felt awful for at least a week. It has occasionally flared up, but not recently. Some things I've been doing that I think have helped:

              Walking: I second Timothy's recommendation. I try to walk throughout the day, but I have a sedentary desk job, so I guess it's different for you. I try to get in at least 2 miles a day.

              Standing (instead of sitting; walking is better than both) whenever possible: I use my laptop at home standing and even eat while standing sometimes.

              Foam rolling: I foam roll my thoracic spine almost daily and I think this helps. Fix Your Body with a Foam Roller: The Basics | Straight to the Bar

              Sleep posture: I read a post by Mark about "long-lying". Basically make your spine as long as possible when you lay down in bed, and I think that helps.