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Old 08-21-2012, 10:13 AM   #1
Aaron Zanchi
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Sudden "pull" in the lower back

Admittedly, I should not have been doing this WOD...on this day. I had performed WOD's in 13 of the previous 14 days. The day of "rest" included a flight in an F-15 with very high sustained G's and about 2.5 hours of volleyball.

I was pushing it, and I could feel the "tired" in my core. But this was my b-day WOD. It started with a 21 calorie row, 21 handstand pushups, and then 21 300 lb deadlifts. There were 7 other exercises after this but there's no need to go any further since I felt the "tug" on my 12th deadlift.

I was tight and tired, I definitely didn't do as much mobility work as I should have before the wkout.

I rowed nice and slow, it took me about 1:20 to get the 21 calories. Another minute to finish the 21 handstand pushups. I walked up to the deadlift bar and picked up my first rep. I locked everything out and felt strong. So I decided I would move quicker. I was moving 300 lbs like it was 135 for about 5 reps. On the 6th I felt my back round and I put the bar down for a pause. I picked it back up with explosive force and banged out 5 quick reps. On the 6th pull I didn't bend my knees quite as much, I let the bar drift outward ever so slightly and my back rounded. I think I may have started to pull the bar before I had hit the ground from the last rep.

I felt a "pulling" sensation in the center of my lower back right about the level of my butt crack. I immediately dropped the bar and stood straight, trying to assess what the hell just happened. I had immediate loss of lumbar strength and what seemed like extreme instability of the lower lumbar.

Flexion and extension while standing caused pain in the area and immediate muscle spasm.

**I finished the WOD, muscle ups...tire flips, 115 lb push press...53 lb turkish getups...pullups...etc. I was only able to finish by using 100% leg on the flips, and a minimal kip. Yes, I know I should not have kept going. But it actually helped my back to feel better as I locked it out. Pressure was not the issue, it was flexion and extension. I could drive through the tire, but if I tried to pull with my back or explode through the hip....immediate spasm at the base of my spine.

After the workout, despite how "loose" or unstable the area felt, it was also extremely tight. I could barely pick up a 20 lb wallball to put it away. I did, but only by maintaining a perfectly erect back.

First 24-48 hours- I did some icing of the area. I did a lot of research. I did a lot of stretching. A lot of stretching!

Back bends provoke the pain
Planking provokes
Superman provokes
Situps provoke
Leaning forward provokes the pain
Leaning left or right does not provoke.
Knees to chest, slowly, aids in relief after a stretch.
Stretching hamstrings aids in relief.
Looking down (stretching the muscles the length of the spine) provokes pain.
Bridges can provoke, but not always.
I can move my hips in any direction except in a forward/backward pelvic thrust. (This gets in the way of other life activities)
Spasm provoked by sneezing, coughing is fine. I sneeze rather violent.


Sciatica is not present. No numbness or tingling or any weird sensation through the butt or legs.
The pain is very localized to the centralish area at the very base of my spine, right about at the level of my butt crack. And the "pain" is primarily the gripping sensation of the muscles locking up when the injury is provoked.

If I had to place a feeling on it, I would say that it feels like a sprained ankle. The loss of stability and gripping, biting feeling when provoked.

24 hrs after injury I was training my wife. As I was demonstrating movements to her I realized that I was getting warm, loose, and feeling better. After training her I tested out a few things and was surprised at what I was able to do without any pain.

Using a 45 lb bar, I completed 20 OH Squat, 10 high hang clean, 10 hang clean, 10 deadlift, 10 burpees, 10 box jumps @ 11", 10 box jump at 24". None of the movements were done with a lot of explosion.

I felt better for most of the evening although sitting down for a movie allowed me to tighten up before going to bed. Sitting for any extended period of time would cause issue when I decided to get up.

Waking up in the morning is tough. I have to stretch before even trying to get out of bed or my back will spasm with most movements.

Progressing through the day and with stretching I feel better and better. The area feels stronger and the spasms become very infrequent. I can tell that the area is nowhere near 100% strength, just stronger. And there is a very dull, localized ache.

I hit a WOD last night, 21-15-9 of 75 lb thrusters and 75 lb deadlifts. I was sure to use proper form although I did not pop at the hip at the top of the thruster, I just followed through with the press. I did it untimed, for technique and assessment. I had no pain during or after the WOD. I felt better and significantly more relaxed post-wod.

72 hours later -Stretching the lower back and hamstrings aids in relief. My legs remain at full strength with no odd sensations. waking up still sucks. Bending comes more easily and sooner, but only once I got warm for the day. Sitting for extended periods of time still annoys the whole trunk when I try to stand up but a little stretching helps relieve it.

Everything seems so tight that I can't even get a crack out of my lower back with a rotational stretch on a chair. I always get a crack or two out of that stretch, yet nothing. but the rotational stretch does feel very good.

Any help is appreciated. Thank you for reading the whole thing.

**I worry it's some disc issue. Going into this I was super confident having hit over a dozen PR's in the last three weeks. I have a mud run in a month and my first competition of the year (outside of the open) in October.
I'm also a little dramatic when stuff like this happens. I'm really hoping that I did not do anything permanent and that it's just a big wake up call.
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Old 08-21-2012, 12:01 PM   #2
Aaron Zanchi
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Re: Sudden "pull" in the lower back

I'm hoping for any kind of advice, encouragement, thoughts on what the cause of my pain may be, and whether or not I'm on the right track with what I'm doing for my recovery.

I figure I'm going to WOD with weights/movements that don't provoke pain and maintain a low relative intensity with focus on technique until I feel 100%.

If the pain persists strongly past a week, mildly past two weeks, my plan is to consult a doctor. But which one do I consult first?
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Old 08-21-2012, 01:39 PM   #3
Rob Poling Jr
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Re: Sudden "pull" in the lower back

I have had the spasms From straining the lower back muscles and I have also gone the surgery route for a disc issue but not being a doctor it sounds like a muscle issue. The first thing I do is cease exercising and not push it for a few days to see how it reacts. I usually do hot showers or heat to try to relax it. The pain from a disc issue where the nerve is affected is a whole other world of hurt.
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Old 08-21-2012, 02:18 PM   #4
Fan Yang
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Re: Sudden "pull" in the lower back

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Zanchi View Post
I'm hoping for any kind of advice, encouragement, thoughts on what the cause of my pain may be, and whether or not I'm on the right track with what I'm doing for my recovery.

I figure I'm going to WOD with weights/movements that don't provoke pain and maintain a low relative intensity with focus on technique until I feel 100%.

If the pain persists strongly past a week, mildly past two weeks, my plan is to consult a doctor. But which one do I consult first?
Stop woding for a week, its actually fairly important to rest it intially. Stretching and "rehab" is pointless in the first several days, in fact probably slows healing. Take ibuprofen/tylenol as able around the clock according the instructions (as oppose to as needed for pain) for the first several days to stem the early inflammatory process. If pain presists past 2-3 weeks despite medication go see a ortho or who ever can order a MRI for you to r/o disc issues, which is unlikely given what you've said.
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Old 08-21-2012, 03:15 PM   #5
Aaron Zanchi
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Re: Sudden "pull" in the lower back

Much appreciated.

I'm comforted that you believe it's primarily muscular. I have been taking NSAIDS since it happened. I haven't started heating yet...I will tonight.

I can say it reacts poorly to inactivity. Everything stays super tight and gets progressively more painful. Activity at a level just enough to warmup seems to do the trick loosening it up and relaxing the entire area. It also frees up almost the entire range of motion pain free. At least until it gets cold again.

I'm not sure I can do nothing for a week. I will lay off movements that jar the lower back though.

Thanks again.
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:02 PM   #6
Ken Jackson
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Re: Sudden "pull" in the lower back

what Fan said, lay off for at least 4 days. You will know whether its muscular or skeletal in that time, don't aggravate it. I'm going through the same thing right now, day 2 no wod, but feeling much better today than yesterday. If you think no wods for a week are bad now, just wait until you have an injury that keeps you out for a long time. Speaking from experience here with a SLAP repair and rotator cuff repair. The rest time is much shorter than the healing time.
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Old 11-07-2012, 01:50 PM   #7
Aaron Zanchi
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Re: Sudden "pull" in the lower back

UPDATE:

I had X-rays done. Turns out my right leg is one inch shorter than my left leg. I had a cobbler make adjustments to my Inov 8's and my Oly's. They look ridiculous but it's necessary.

I've been on the new shoes for a little over a month and a half now and it's made a significant difference in the way I feel and the way I perform. Ha, and the way I'm sore, ouch. Starting to even out though.

Thank you all for your help and suggestions.
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Old 11-09-2012, 02:46 PM   #8
Dario Delkic
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Re: Sudden "pull" in the lower back

Interesting Post. I recently sprained my SI joined over and over during the course of a 2 month period while Deadlifting. I started seeing a chiropractor who told me that my hips are tilted (causing one of my legs to be shorter than the other).

I also had ACL surgery about 8 months ago and I believe that maybe some of the unevenness was caused by months of placing too much emphasis on the uninvolved leg.

Either way, my chiropractor will order me some inserts if length discrepancy does not change. I am glad they worked for you, I was a bit skeptical when he told me. I just can't wait to get back to OLY lifting.
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Old 11-16-2012, 09:46 AM   #9
John C Blattner
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Re: Sudden "pull" in the lower back

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Zanchi View Post
UPDATE:

I had X-rays done. Turns out my right leg is one inch shorter than my left leg. I had a cobbler make adjustments to my Inov 8's and my Oly's. They look ridiculous but it's necessary.

I've been on the new shoes for a little over a month and a half now and it's made a significant difference in the way I feel and the way I perform. Ha, and the way I'm sore, ouch. Starting to even out though.

Thank you all for your help and suggestions.
One result of the deterioration of my knee is inability to reach full extension, which in effect makes my right leg an inch (or more) shorter than my left. This imbalance, plus just "working around" the bad knee in general, has regularly caused precisely the sort of discomfort you describe. The general prescription of rest, heat, and NSAIDs generally does the trick. In about two weeks I am getting a total knee replacement which I hope will be a more long-lasting fix.
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