View Full Version : My achin' back....

Chris Doughty
05-17-2003, 02:55 PM
I’ve been having some lower back pain for almost 8 months now. I don’t remember any particular event that started it – just sort of crept up. It tends to get better and then I’ll do something stupid and tweak it again. For example, I was doing some KB swings a couple of days ago and didn’t hold my form on one catch and got a mild tweak. Did the same thing on DL this morning and made it a little worse (forgot my belt). Tried some sit-ups a little later and noticed that the ones I did in good form felt fine, the ones I did once I got tired were starting to get painful.
Overall it seems to be getting better now that I’m following Crossfit but I’m still tweaking it every now and then. Is there anyone out there who has experience with the same and/or could recommend some sort of exercise to strengthen whatever it is that needs strengthening? Anything therapeutic besides ibuprofen?



Robert Wolf
05-17-2003, 05:32 PM

Since I am not a doctor and can not give medical advice Ill just mention what I would do:

Ditch the weight lifting belt. It screws up the motor unit recruitment for your trunk...your body comes to rely on it and it will cause you problems later. Although your description is breif I am guessing you may need to back off on weight and intensity a bit and really drill form. Attend one of Pavel's seminars, go see Coach. Make certian you are stayng on your heels throughout both movements (swings and DL). Crossfit has rehabed some serious back injuries but if your form is compromised it will be difficult both to progress and remain injury free.
Good luck!

Chris Doughty
05-19-2003, 04:43 PM

Thanks for the input. My MD just recommends PT - and in my experience that is a complete joke (except when I got the bill). I'll stay light, work on form, and keep the weight on my heels. Tried some OH squats last night (5x15x75#) using that emphasis and everything felt great. I'll try to hook up with Pavel and Coach this summer.


David Werner
05-20-2003, 11:10 AM
If you are in Seattle this summer Pavel will be at Crossfit North at Sandpoint for a Kettlebell meet and strength seminar
It would be very cool if you could make it.

Are you good at flexing your abs when placing a load on yur back? Flexing the abs makes a torsion beam out of your midsection, distributes the load on your spine and helps keep the lumbar curve in place. It can be dificult to time the abs flexion in a dynamic movement but that is the key to accepting a load without hurting your back. Press your stomach out as you tighten, just as if you were bracing for a punch in the gut. This is a very importnt part of squating, overhead squating and deadlifting. Having a strong deadlift is another key to a robust back. You are familiar with my back history, since I began deadlifting my back troubles have decreased dramaticaly.


Chris Doughty
05-20-2003, 04:57 PM
Thanks for the invite! 7/26 will be right after my honeymoon so I'll be fat, tan, and happy but probably not in much shape for throwing KB's around. Nonetheless I'd love to get out there, see your facility, and watch the show. A chance to get some pointers from the Evil Russian would be pretty cool, too.

You know, I've probably been a little negligent with the abs. After reading your response, I tried some KB swings with emphasis on keeping my abs tight - and it felt pretty good. I'll try incorporating that into my DLs tomorrow. DLs have always (well, the 3 or 4 times if tried them since starting Crossfit) felt kinda weird - don't have the form right - but I'll try it again with the abs and come back with more questions in a later post.



Tyler Hass
05-21-2003, 12:45 AM
I would strongly recommend getting Power to the People by Pavel Tsatsouline. It contains the best, most comprehensive instruction for the deadlift that I have ever seen. The other cool thing is that the techniques you learn from the deadlift carryover really well to other lifts.
You should definitely try and come up for the competition. I'm not sure if I will compete or not, but I will definitely be there.

Chris Doughty
06-01-2003, 09:40 AM
Got some good info from Power to the People and also from the WCC PC video on improving my stance and holding form. Also have been really emphasizing holding my abs tight. My back is doing a lot better. I've also noticed a major improvement in my knee - I thought the dull ache was just going to be permanent after ACL replacement 20 mo. ago. Went through the WOD for Friday and hoisted just shy of 5k lbs with a max lift of 345 and didn't have any problems at all! My back is super-sore today but it's all the good kind.

Thanks for the advice everyone!


David Werner
06-02-2003, 07:40 AM
That is some good news! You've come a long way since your surgery. My knees and back just keep getting better and better, so you should expect the same progress.

We live in some cool times, with access to so much good information.


Randy Mitchell
06-03-2003, 08:28 AM
I also have been having back trouble. After doing the C&J workout the other day, I felt crippled. A friend that I work with who is a bodybuilder and a personal trainer has been advising me to take a week off and stretch my back several times a day by lying on my stomach and pushing up to stretch my back the opposite direction. He thinks I may have a bulging disk. Should I lay off or lighten my loads and keep training?

Chris Doughty
06-03-2003, 11:11 AM
I did have some luck with an exercise that is similar to what you're mentioning. Lay on your stomach, arch backwards (bringing your chest and feet off of the ground), and hold. I did 5 sets of 45 seconds to 1 minute with a couple of minutes rest in between. While this helped, it seemed to be treating the issue symptomatically rather than hitting it at the source.

I'm no expert on this so I'm tentative to make any recommendations for your particular situation. However, the things mentioned previously in this thread have really been helpful to me and allowed me to keep training:
1. Heavy emphasis on form and foot position - and lowering the weight for a while to ensure good form. See Pavel's book and the World Class Coaching videos for pointers.
2. Keeping my weight back on my heels (generally meant sticking my butt back further).
3. Lower ab work (beyond the WOD). A lot of L-sits.
4. Keeping the abs tight and extended during lifts.

Good luck.


The New Fred
07-25-2003, 07:36 PM
There is a revolution going on in medicine regarding chronic pain, especially chronic back pain. The knowledge is percolating out slowly and as a result most doctors aren't aware of it yet. I had to become very aware of it myself in order to fix my problem. Much of this was discovered by John Sarno, MD, at NYU.

The gist of it is that there are two classes of pain: organic, which is the usual kind, and a kind caused by the nervous system, which doesn't have a good label yet. THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL TREATMENT IS UNDERSTANDING WHICH KIND YOU HAVE. Here are some characteristics of each kind of pain to get you started.

physical cause, usually traumatic or dramatic ("I dropped a weight on my foot") pain occurs consistently in the place of trauma activities that cause pain have a clear cause and effect relationship that makes sense the pain improves over time as the body heals
Pain Caused By Nervous System
No obvious or dramatic physical cause ("it just started happening", or "maybe I stood up wrong") pain can move around, even to parts of the body for which it doesn't make sense ("the pain is spreading") AND often times the pain will be in the site of an old injury which healed years ago activities which trigger the pain have no clear cause and effect relationship ("I don't know why it started hurting then" or "sometimes it feels fine when I do the same activity") the pain lasts for years, coming and going, and can get worse, even with treatment OR you may have developed a ritual (some kind of exercise, whatever) which keeps the pain at bay only if you perform it religiously
When I say pain caused by the nervous system, I mean the sympathetic nervous system. It innervates muscles in parallel to the voluntary nervous system and causes pain by recruiting muscles to temporarily deplete local tissues of oxygen. It's real pain, not in your head, but it's also not damage, and it's not permanent.

If you suspect you have the nervous system kind of pain, clear your head for a moment and forget/ignore everything you've heard from doctors and physical therapists and ask yourself, "Does this pain fit my common sense understanding for how an injury should manifest itself?" (Remember, a broken bone can heal in 6 weeks.) If the answer is "maybe not", read these two books (or others like them):

Sarno, John. The Mindbody Prescription (http://library.med.nyu.edu/cgi-bin/facbib-bio-sr.pl?RCD=B00958&NAME=John_E._Sarno)

Amir, Fred. Rapid Recovery from Back and Neck Pain (http://www.rapidrecovery.net/)

Good luck,
Fred (not Amir)

Craig H Decker
09-10-2003, 08:57 AM
I am not sure how everyone feels about supplements but this is one I use and have for three years (I started Crossfitting one year ago).

I take 1000mg Glucosamine and Chondroitin made by Solgar every day. It helps to rehydrate disc material. I suffered from chronic back pain and was at the end of my rope when a coworker recommended it, so with nothing to lose, I tried it. I have MRIs from before and six months after, proving that my disc material was denser and my back pain is gone. I had given up sailing but now compete again on an international level.