View Full Version : Injury Related Substitution

Phil Canto
02-04-2004, 12:12 PM
Anyone have any ideas for a deadlift substitute? One of our guys tweaked his lower back doing the WOD a bit ago, and hasn't been the same since. We need to get him back on track...My initial idea was for him to drastically lower the weight and then perform "textbook" DLs. Anything you guys can come up with will be greatly appreciated!


Jason "J-Dog" Highbarger
02-04-2004, 08:00 PM
Hello Phil, How are you Sir?

I ruptured my L-5 several years ago (to the point where I couldn't really walk) and personally rehabbed it by doing a combination of deadlifts, back-extensions and reverse back-extensions (along with lots of ice and a fair amount of Advil). He should be icing a few times a day and then ease his way back into the deadlifts with, just as you said, "textbook" form and technique. I would suggest icing before bed, when he awakes, and most certainly after working out, even if there is no immediate pain. Some abb work would also probably help him out, though maybe just initially (1-2 weeks, depending) go a little lighter on the "hip-flexor heavy" abb movements until he has a little more confidence/solidity within the lower-back. Again, just speaking from my own personal experience.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of him striving towards maintaining the deadlift as a part of his repertoire. I personally would suggest he do them twice a week at a light load and then do either the back-extensions or the reverse back-extensions each once or twice a week, depending. Think of it as active/aggressive rehab. It would be a mistake to forgo the deadlift all together.

Phil Canto
02-05-2004, 09:09 AM
Jason: Thanks for the response! I'm of the opinion in many injury cases, that stopping the exercise does little to improve the injury in the long run. My fellow officer has been to a chiropractor about his injury, who promptly told him to stop doing DLs. I wonder if you or anyone else has had a similar experience with the medical profession (an aversion to exercise once an injury has taken place)? My colleague’s chiropractor also x-rayed his back and advised him that his hips were "misaligned"? Does this sound correct? Is it possible for a person to damage bone structure/alignment doing 1/2 B/W DLs? (This question probably should have been posed on the chiropractic thread a few weeks ago...).

Over 10 yrs ago I worked as a mover and slightly injured my back. I actually saw a medical Dr. who had a power/olympic lifting background. He strongly believed in "working" the muscle just as you described...his perspective seems to be an anomaly in the profession.

DLs are certainly one the "core" CF exercises, so stopping all together doesn't seem plausible.

On a more positive note...my DLs have vastly improved since the seminar in Oct. I’ve used the Coach's checklist as a guide. Flexibility and power has vastly improved as a result. I seem to hit a PR each time I do a DL workout, and 21-15-9 @ 225 doesn't intimidate me...

I'm interested in any and all perspectives in this arena as from time to time I get injured recruits who show up for PT with Dr's notes who want to particpate, but are limited in what they can do and are advised to do by their medical professionals. I cannot and will not ignore the guidance and professional opinions of their doctors and chiropractors as they are the experts in their respective fields...Thanks!


Jason "J-Dog" Highbarger
02-05-2004, 11:05 PM
Hello Phil,

Your fellow officer while during his next visit to his chiropractor should accidentally drop his keys on the floor and say "oops"; and then politely ask the doc to please demonstrate for him how he should go about picking up his keys. :-)

Humorous, sure, yet the reality of the situation is there. How is your guy supposed to pick anything up if he "can't deadflift"? Seriously. Actually, that reminds me of the August 2003 issue of the CrossFit Journal where Coach gives the short reenactment of an actual exchange between Coach and a Doctor. It too is humorous yet very telling. You Sir are perfectly qualified to teach your fellow officers how to go about picking up something safely ("deadlift").

As for the X-Ray's, were I he, I would get a second opinion, not simply because the one who gave the opinion is a chiropractor, but more so due to the quick response to "not deadlift" by the chiropractor. I am not a doctor or chiropractor or licensed physical therapist, but I have helped rehab a lot of lower backs, including my own.

I am not qualified to give any diagnosis as to the possibility of whether or not he has "misaligned hips", ...but nor can I even begin to count the number of low-back injuries that I have seen over my 7 years of training miraculously "heal" via a combination of deadlifts, back-extensions, proper nutrition, etc; injuries and physical abnormalities of many varieties. I have seen low-back injuries of all kinds in my own clients and in Coach's "heal" through proper strengthening; and when coupled with some shred of a decent diet, even better. It may well be possible that your guy has misaligned hips and that it somehow causes a "weird" or unnatural torque on the pelvic joint or SI joint in some fashion. But before just accepting that as being absolute, I would personally get a second opinion. My good friend and solid CrossFiter has one leg a half inch longer than the other. On deep squatting with heavy weight, it aggravates him a little, and the difference in leg length shows all the way up through his shoulder blades and traps, though 95# thrusters and deadlifts at any weight don't bother him at all. But anyway....

I'm sure there are others on this board who can offer more help than I.

As for your Doctor of 10 years ago; yah, it seems his perspective is an anomaly in his profession, though his background in the big lifts coupled with being a doctor certainly warrants a consideration of his perspective.

I did answer a post on this board in great depth a long time ago regarding low-back injury, pulling heavily from my own experience of being injured and my experience as a trainer helping the injured. While part of it could be summed up as "rambling", I think there is some useful info within that might be of help. Here is the link:

There was another great back-injury thread a while ago with some great responses by several of the regulars on this board including some great responses by Patrick Johnston and David Werner. The link to that thread is:

On a personal note, I'm happy to hear of your continued accomplishments thus far with your training. That's awesome! Coach's "checklist" from the August 2003 CFJ is a great resource for sound technique.

On a side note, let TJ know I'll be mailing out tomorrow (Saturday at the latest) a little something for him, you, and the rest of your 6:00 am crew. It's not much, but I think you'll get a kick out of it. I'll be mailing it to his personal address. I would keep it here and give it to him at the end of this month while he is here, but then he'd have to pack it on the plane. So it'll go out tomorrow.

Take care Phil and keep up the good work! :-)

Phil Canto
02-06-2004, 05:55 PM
Thanks again Jason for the insightful posts. We had him back in the gym this morning doing the back extensions and some light running (believe it or not). Rather than tackle the WOD (wisely), he insisted on at least doing the CF Warm-Up...Later in the day when I saw him, he appeared to be walking with correct posture (unlike the "hunchback" impersonation he was doing last week). We’ll be doing DLs next week as we are about a week behind the West Coast crew. T.J. has provided us two of the BFS 5 pound bumper plates, so that will be his max no matter how much he complains about it being too light :happy:!

I'll be checking out the archived links you provided.

I'll stay in touch and keep you posted.