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Old 07-13-2013, 01:40 PM   #1
Todd Selva
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L5/S1 Herniated Disc

I had a severe injury to the lumbar spine. I had surgery a few years back and recovered, but still had some pain and discomfort. I continued training on the advice of my dr. and chiropractor. In september I hernited it again in the same spot. I did a ton of therapy and chiro. I'm back training, but still struggling with pain. A ton more mobility, but I pay for it at times after wods. Does anyone else have experience doing squats, cleans, deads, etc. with a herniated disc? Im keeping the load extremely low which is frustrating, but im still in pain afterwards which tells me that if im going heavier, it may not have a good result. The spine is always neutral, and I never go to failure. Dr. says this is safe, but my im not too sure
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Old 07-16-2013, 10:30 AM   #2
Glenn Pasewicz
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Re: L5/S1 Herniated Disc

You have a lot more (unfortunate) experience with this than I do, as I've never had surgery. I started having sciatic pain about a year ago and was Dx (via MRI) in January with L4-L5 and L5-S1 herniations.

But since no one else has answered yet....
I use dumbbells for everything aside from barbell bench press. Dumbbells feel safer because if there's a problem they're easy to dump.

I haven't tried deads with either barbell or dumbbell since January. Pullups/hanging from a bar tend to cause trouble so I avoid that.

Sounds like good news from your doctor. But you should listen to your body.
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Old 07-17-2013, 11:20 PM   #3
Firat Keler
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Re: L5/S1 Herniated Disc

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Originally Posted by Glenn Pasewicz View Post
You have a lot more (unfortunate) experience with this than I do, as I've never had surgery. I started having sciatic pain about a year ago and was Dx (via MRI) in January with L4-L5 and L5-S1 herniations.

But since no one else has answered yet....
I use dumbbells for everything aside from barbell bench press. Dumbbells feel safer because if there's a problem they're easy to dump.

I haven't tried deads with either barbell or dumbbell since January. Pullups/hanging from a bar tend to cause trouble so I avoid that.

Sounds like good news from your doctor. But you should listen to your body.
And do you still workout? Light or heavy? Any discomfort next days? Have you got another MRI to check it?
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Old 07-18-2013, 08:18 AM   #4
Glenn Pasewicz
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Re: L5/S1 Herniated Disc

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Originally Posted by Firat Keler View Post
And do you still workout? Light or heavy? Any discomfort next days? Have you got another MRI to check it?
I do, but with my own "programming," going as heavy as I can safely manage with the dumbbells. The difficulty hasn't been with the movements themselves, but with getting the weights into position (e.g., picking them up, putting them down). If you have dumbbells at shoulder height, the tendency is to bend forward at the waist when you put them down. In my experience, that bending forward has the potential to put the spine in a risky position. I proceed with caution.

Until recently, the only follow-on discomfort had been after pullups. However, the past week or so the sciatic pain has been flaring and I'm not 100% sure why. That being said, even at its best, there's always a little twinge now and then. On a scale of 1-10, pain is almost always at a .5 -1. Negligible, but not completely absent.

Haven't had any more MRIs done.
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Old 07-19-2013, 11:01 PM   #5
Firat Keler
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Re: L5/S1 Herniated Disc

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Originally Posted by Glenn Pasewicz View Post
I do, but with my own "programming," going as heavy as I can safely manage with the dumbbells. The difficulty hasn't been with the movements themselves, but with getting the weights into position (e.g., picking them up, putting them down). If you have dumbbells at shoulder height, the tendency is to bend forward at the waist when you put them down. In my experience, that bending forward has the potential to put the spine in a risky position. I proceed with caution.

Until recently, the only follow-on discomfort had been after pullups. However, the past week or so the sciatic pain has been flaring and I'm not 100% sure why. That being said, even at its best, there's always a little twinge now and then. On a scale of 1-10, pain is almost always at a .5 -1. Negligible, but not completely absent.

Haven't had any more MRIs done.
I see. I wish you good luck on your progress.
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Old 07-22-2013, 09:46 PM   #6
Namir Yedid
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Re: L5/S1 Herniated Disc

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Originally Posted by Todd Selva View Post
I had a severe injury to the lumbar spine. I had surgery a few years back and recovered, but still had some pain and discomfort. I continued training on the advice of my dr. and chiropractor. In september I hernited it again in the same spot. I did a ton of therapy and chiro. I'm back training, but still struggling with pain. A ton more mobility, but I pay for it at times after wods. Does anyone else have experience doing squats, cleans, deads, etc. with a herniated disc? Im keeping the load extremely low which is frustrating, but im still in pain afterwards which tells me that if im going heavier, it may not have a good result. The spine is always neutral, and I never go to failure. Dr. says this is safe, but my im not too sure
Todd (and others who've responded): sorry to hear about your back issues. I herniated L3-L4, L4-L5, and tore L5-S1 in Nov '09. Stopped CF, did 6 months of PT 3x/week, and s l o w l y rebuilt my strength and training plans. It's taken years, and I don't mean to sugarcoat that. Now I can squat without pain (up to 1.5x bodyweight and I weight ~200lbs) both front and back and can clean with no trouble. Overhead lifts are fine. Heavy deadlights still give me trouble and I suspect they will permanently. Lighter DLs or DLs as part of a clean don't seem to be a problem.

I had very, very good luck with MAT (muscle activation therapy) and still do some of the drills from that work on a daily basis. My physical therapist was very sports-oriented and they actually had an MAT guy on staff there. Find an MAT person who is REALLY good, there are huge differences between the practitioners.

Here's the important part: I wonder whether you're doing too much mobility. I know if I do work on the foam roller or really any static stretching, I get nasty back pain that can lay me out for days at a time. It just doesn't feel good. I use lacrosse/tennis/golf balls to do some soft tissue work, but even that I keep very low-key around my hips/back/upper legs.

Not sure if anyone else has that experience, but that stood out to me from your post. Try dropping the mobility work and see how you do.
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Old 07-25-2013, 08:52 AM   #7
Daniel Pope
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Re: L5/S1 Herniated Disc

Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd Selva View Post
I had a severe injury to the lumbar spine. I had surgery a few years back and recovered, but still had some pain and discomfort. I continued training on the advice of my dr. and chiropractor. In september I hernited it again in the same spot. I did a ton of therapy and chiro. I'm back training, but still struggling with pain. A ton more mobility, but I pay for it at times after wods. Does anyone else have experience doing squats, cleans, deads, etc. with a herniated disc? Im keeping the load extremely low which is frustrating, but im still in pain afterwards which tells me that if im going heavier, it may not have a good result. The spine is always neutral, and I never go to failure. Dr. says this is safe, but my im not too sure
Now, your doc may not know exactly what you're doing in the gym but I wouldn't be too afraid to continue on your path and take his advice. Pain is a very tricky thing and over time (after an injury has had time to heal) pain can still persist. Pain originates and is controlled in your brain and can persist long after something has healed. The pain is real but part of getting the issue to calm down is letting your brain know that things are healed and pain does not equal damage.

Pain science is a popular topic in the therapy world right now. My research was on something called central sensitivity and how spinal manipulation effects this. In patients with chronic pain they have a lower threshold for pain and get pain during normal movement that isn't damaging at all. In these patients their nervous system gets a little overly sensitive.

I'd recommend reading the book explain pain by butler and moseley. Rehab consists of education and progressively working into more difficult exercise without pain.

I know this is a funny thing to grasp and believe but it is substantiated by evidence. I'd be smart with training but don't think you need to be especially worried and the extra worrying may be keeping you from getting better.
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Old 08-23-2013, 10:04 PM   #8
Sean Crotty
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Re: L5/S1 Herniated Disc

Hi Todd. I am actually 13 months removed from an L5/S1 Microdysectomy myself and have posted similar threads. I was very active in CrossFit for around (2) years before my surgery and the learning curve I struggle with at times is distinguishing the pain between being sore and pushing my back too far.

After surgery, I did a tremendous amount of soft tissue work and dynamic stretching under the supervision on my PT. I realize that traditional soreness is more prevalent now that my disc is healed and underwent some major trauma. I would focus on getting re-adjusted and comfortable with the natural movements as well as focusing on ROM ahead of pushing for PRs on WODs. You know your body better than anyone but in my subjective opinion, I would not push that herniated disc too far and I would seek some more professional opinions. As I realize that each case is different, surgery was beneficial for me when in the past, everyone was telling me how it would ruin my mobility and general way of life, including my future in CrossFit ( I want to not that my surgery was caused by a climbing accident and not CrossFit). I would not push this injury too far and maybe have another MRI or do some specialized PT being going any further.

Do you mind me asking what type of surgery you had? What type of therapy program did they put you on?

Sorry for all the questions. As someone who is also removed from back surgery, I feel your pain (literally).
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Old 08-24-2013, 08:06 AM   #9
Brian Strump
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Re: L5/S1 Herniated Disc

And the prize goes to Namir for the following....


"Here's the important part: I wonder whether you're doing too much mobility. I know if I do work on the foam roller or really any static stretching, I get nasty back pain that can lay me out for days at a time. It just doesn't feel good. I use lacrosse/tennis/golf balls to do some soft tissue work, but even that I keep very low-key around my hips/back/upper legs.

Not sure if anyone else has that experience, but that stood out to me from your post. Try dropping the mobility work and see how you do."

If you keep doing mobility and it does not seem to improve, why would you expect even more to help? Sometimes, it's not the answer.

I don't remember how you said it happened, but if it were non-traumatic(accident, collision), discs herniate then too much stress is put on them. That can/will happen when the hips more poorly, AND the spinal stabilizers are not functioning properly; thus putting more pressure on the discs. You may have already corrected much of the mobility issues; look for other causes.
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Old 08-24-2013, 05:08 PM   #10
Bob Herald
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Re: L5/S1 Herniated Disc

OP May I ask what the original symptoms were of the injury?
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