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Old 12-11-2009, 02:03 PM   #1
Doug Dillon
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Potential Causes of Herniated Disk

Over the last 5-10 years I've herniated a disk in my lumbar spine several times. Most recently was last February (2009). Well, I've aggravated it again.

Obviously, what I've done in the past doesn't prevent me from injuring it again, and it's very frustrating to work so hard only to be occasionally incapacitated.

I'd like to get a list of potential causes and contributing factors so that I can make a plan on how to change my workouts AND MY LIFE so that I prevent this from happening again. Once I understand WHY this might be
happening, perhaps I can figure out how to "bullet proof" my lower back.

Here's six causes and contributing factors I could think of. What did I miss or where am I mistaken?

1 - Poor posture, ie slouching in chairs
2 - Poor form, especially in deadlift-type postures
3 - Heredity
4 - Poor flexibility in posterior chain, especially hamstrings
5 - Improper stabilization of lumbar spine by:
5a - Weak or improperly activated transverse abdominus
5c - Weak or improperly activated spinal erectors
5d - Weak or improperly activated posterior chain
6 - Previous herniation of the disk
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Old 12-11-2009, 07:04 PM   #2
Steven Low
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Re: Potential Causes of Herniated Disk

1. Flexion of the spine.

That's all you need to know.

Don't flex the lumbar spine.
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Old 12-11-2009, 08:58 PM   #3
Leslie Powell
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Re: Potential Causes of Herniated Disk

See above, and then (if you haven't already) buy a copy of Stuart McGill's "Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance" as soon as possible. Tons of details on causes and coping with back injuries, especially herniation.
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Old 12-12-2009, 09:10 AM   #4
Doug Dillon
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Re: Potential Causes of Herniated Disk

Right. Good point. Lumbar flexion is obviously the cause of the herniation itself. Now, why can't I keep my lumbar region rigid enough to prevent re-injury?

Perhaps Mcgill has the answer. I'll look into getting "Ultimate Back Fitness..." . It's out of print and $141 used on Amazon, though. I'll see if I can find it in a library. Seems like just what I'm looking for.

The same author also has a book "Low Back Disorders: Evidence-based prevention and rehabilition" in a second edition. That's only (!) $40 and I've requested it through a local university's library. Any opinions on this book and the differences vs. "Ultimate Back Fitness..."

thanks for the help. And for anyone who stumbles on this thread on the future and wants to know how it turned out. I'll probably keep a running commentary on my blog.
http://appalachian-athlete.blogspot.com

Doug
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Old 12-12-2009, 11:32 AM   #5
Mike Mallory
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Re: Potential Causes of Herniated Disk

there's really a huge amount to know in that area.

To put it into a thread is WAY too much

In my opinion, you need a good 7 medical textbooks to piece that one together-
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Old 12-12-2009, 11:48 AM   #6
Steven Low
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Re: Potential Causes of Herniated Disk

Yeah, everyone's case is specific... so figuring it out can be tough.
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Old 12-12-2009, 01:58 PM   #7
Anthony Ricci
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Re: Potential Causes of Herniated Disk

Steven is right on the money. Every person is different . I herniated L5 squating with bad form in 1986 and C5 ( neck ) in car accident . Both treated with Chiropractor and core strengthening-I became a Chiro because of this-didn't even know what they did previous to the injuries.
Most are combination of trauma then bad biomechanical compensation of body and breakdown of kinetic chain piece by piece. You must unravel from the beginning. CF is great way to get core function-work the excercises with form and don't get caught up in the silly times posted. By the way I am 47 y/o and still seeing 80 patients a day and CFing 4 days a week. Not bad for a guy the surgeons told to stop training and fuse the back.
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Old 12-15-2009, 10:39 AM   #8
Thomas Green
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Re: Potential Causes of Herniated Disk

To add to the thread, bulletproof the core. Planks, prone stablization, push up holds with one arm. Isolate the glutes. This will stabilize your back tremendously. Clamshells, birddogs, mule kicks, etc... Stronger glutes and lower abs take a lot of strain off the lower back. When the lumbar spinal muscles cant handle the strain of a heavy squat or deadlift anymore, the discs bulge. A lot of the stuff in CF accomplishes this, but I still think its a good idea to do all this stuff on top of it. On top of that, try to minimize compression on the spine. Avoid sitting as much as possible. Hang from a bar for as long as you can before and after every workout. Stretch the lower back. Keep your hip flexors loose. Do all this stuff on a regular basis and your discs will be well protected.

Not trying to offend anyone with this next statement nor is what I'm saying general, but from my experiences, my neurosurgeon (I never needed surgery, just went in for a referral to PT) was far more helpful to me than my chiropractor. The chrio basically said he could decompress my spine for 5,000 bucks and that that was my only option(insurance didnt cover the treatment btw). Again, not to knock on the previous poster. But I feel like I have to share this.

Last edited by Thomas Green; 12-15-2009 at 10:45 AM..
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Old 12-15-2009, 11:38 AM   #9
Thomas Green
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Re: Potential Causes of Herniated Disk

As a follow up, if there is any way chiropractic care can be used to prevent injuries like this, I would be very interested in learning how or trying it for myself. All the last chiropractor I saw did was adjustments(this only made it worse) and offered the decompression treatment.
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Old 12-15-2009, 01:00 PM   #10
Doug Dillon
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Re: Potential Causes of Herniated Disk

I also had very little success with a chiropractor with this injury. I did get a recommendation from the guy the folks at my box use and visited him probably 3-4 times following my last severe herniation. I got put on 'the rack' and got a quick adjustment but the only truly helpful thing was that electro-shock thereapy stimulator he would put on my lower back. I could feel a decrease in pain from muscle spasms following that. It was short-lived (few hours) though. Still, I just loved the feeling of the uncontrolled twitching of my back muscles and I don't know why.

FYI I am "mobile without pain" now, but have halted CF wods until after I get (and digest) my eagerly anticipated delivery of McGills "ultimate back fitness and performance". You can order it from the author at www.backfitpro.com (wfs) for ~ 63 US$ which is way cheaper than what i found on amazon. I hope it's as appropriate for what I need as it sounds.... he does talk about generating strength and power, apparently. That's a really positive sign.
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