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  1. #1
    guitarmy's Avatar
    guitarmy is offline Junior Member
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    Building Muscle w/Lower Back Issues?

    Primal Fuel
    Here's my dilemma - any help from you smart, fellow PBers would be awesome!

    I'm 6'0" and about 162lbs. Skinny dude. I've been lifting heavy and eating Primal for a while now; deadlifts, squats, bench, press, pullups mainly. Doing a modified Starting Strength sort of deal.

    However, I have worsening lower back issues - to the point where I can't squat or deadlift any significant weight without pain. Immediate and long-lasting pain. Note: I am doing physio-approved exercises to help with this.

    I want to continue attempting to gain muscle via lifting (the lifts I can do) and eating lots of Primal-approved foods. However, I'm unsure of how realistic that goal might be if I can't do the big, compound lifts that hit my central nervous system.

    What are you thoughts? Can I still gain weight & muscle by doing bench, press, pullups and perhaps lunges while eating lots? Will I gain fat? Will I stay where I am?

    Any thoughts or help, however random, would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Coach Palfrey's Avatar
    Coach Palfrey is offline Senior Member
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    Why do you have back issues and what exactly are they? And what "physio approved" exercises are you doing to help with this?

    Post some footage of yourself squatting and deadlifting if you can - it would be uber helpful!

  3. #3
    guitarmy's Avatar
    guitarmy is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks for the quick reply, Coach.

    My back pain started with a twisted pelvis from an epic snowboard bail last winter. I went to physio, got it back in place and was instructed to stretch more, as I also have EXTREMELY tight hamstrings/legs, which are pulling on my back. I promptly forgot about stretching and slowly, my back pain came back. I sit all day (graphic designer) which exacerbates the problem.

    Now I'm on a stretching and core-strengthening program (planks, bridges) to help with my back.

    I do think, when I started lifting, my squat and deadlift form left something to be desired. Leaning forward on squats, rounding back on deadlifts. I've since studied Rippetoes videos and got some help from trainers with regards to my form; I think it's pretty solid now (I don't have videos, sorry). I'm sure my crap form didn't help either, but that was a while ago and I've been lifting properly for a while now.

  4. #4
    arthurb999's Avatar
    arthurb999 is offline Senior Member
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    I have/had similar back problems and with a little work am fine now.

    I tried everything to fix it and the best things were:

    - Heating pad in the morning
    - 10 min stretching 3x per day (focusing on hips, hams and piriformous)
    - Got a foam roller and learned how to use it
    - 1 on 1 pilates session for 10 sessions to rebuild my core strentgh
    - Yoga once a week

    Now I just do the stretching after workout, foam roller as needed and yoga 1x per week.

  5. #5
    NeoBerserker's Avatar
    NeoBerserker is offline Senior Member
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    I had back problems. Many experts told me not to lift. Back pain didn't go away. Started lifting, avoiding back. The problem did not budge. Said, "screw it," and started deadlifting and hitting the back again. Back was very sore at first, but it went away (started at very light weight). Zero back troubles to date even though they said this would make my back worse. The experts seem to want to keep you broken. Also, your back will probably get worse if you avoid working it.

    I'm not saying you should do what i did, you may have some other troubles there, but what iv'e learned is that avoiding the area will not fix it. Try to figure out whats going on, if its muscle damage i believe you need to work it to re-heal itself.You may have some other issues with your spine or something. Try fixing your posture? Try Grokhale's book (its a good book).

    Hope this helps

  6. #6
    guitarmy's Avatar
    guitarmy is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks guys. It's not like I CAN'T squat or deadlift; it's just that I can't without significant weight. Maybe it would be worthwhile to up the reps a bit and take the weight way down in order to still strengthen my back without putting so much stress on it.

    arthurb999: Thanks for the tips. I'll look into the foam roller etc.

  7. #7
    JimS's Avatar
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    Check out this guy's website. I am going to incorporate some of his suggesitons myself. Try to ignore his 'casual' style.


    MobilityWOD

  8. #8
    AnarchoGrok's Avatar
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    guitarmy,

    I had lower back problems that would keep me flat on my back for a week. The pain was unimaginable. I was told by a chiropractor that I trust that the very best exercise for lower back is stair stepping machine. I was very lucky that I had access to one in my apartment gym. After just three months of 50min three times per week I have never had the lower back pain again. I have also never used the stair step machine again. If you can get one, even a cheap one from craigslist buy it, use it and be free.

    M

  9. #9
    IcarianVX's Avatar
    IcarianVX is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeoBerserker View Post
    I had back problems. Many experts told me not to lift. Back pain didn't go away. Started lifting, avoiding back. The problem did not budge. Said, "screw it," and started deadlifting and hitting the back again. Back was very sore at first, but it went away (started at very light weight). Zero back troubles to date even though they said this would make my back worse. The experts seem to want to keep you broken. Also, your back will probably get worse if you avoid working it.

    I'm not saying you should do what i did, you may have some other troubles there, but what iv'e learned is that avoiding the area will not fix it. Try to figure out whats going on, if its muscle damage i believe you need to work it to re-heal itself.You may have some other issues with your spine or something. Try fixing your posture? Try Grokhale's book (its a good book).

    Hope this helps
    My story is sorta like NeoBerserker's:

    I broke my back falling off of a helicopter in 1997 (my L3 vertebra still looks like a door wedge). All the doctors told me not to lift anything and just to essentially be lazy if I thought it would hurt my back to do otherwise. After awhile I was a mess and couldn't do a damned thing. I eventually just started lifting and slowly learning how to squat and dead with proper form. I mostly did 5 sets of 20 rep squats (which I can proudly say I can do with 225lbs now) but I just started with the bar. For deadlifts I made sure I had extremely strict form and just worked on it from there.
    I never have back pain, ever. The only time my back ever "acts up" is if I sleep on it wrong and then it just requires stretching and some foam roller and I am good after 30 mins.
    If you can, just try to strengthen the muscles slowly.
    People too weak to follow their own dreams will always try to discourage others.

  10. #10
    Coach Palfrey's Avatar
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    Primal Blueprint Expert Certification
    It sounds like you will need to go back to the drawing board a little (pardon the pun). Foam roller (as suggested), mobility and stretching will be the things to focus on.

    Is there anyway you can film yourself squatting and deadlifting? It would really help so much. Front and side view with moderate loads would be great.

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