View Full Version : Advice

11-04-2006, 10:58 PM
Hey, gang,

As I've mentioned before, I've been struggling to get back in shape after surgery to repair a crushed cervical disk. I've managed to shed nearly 30 pounds, and had gotten to where I was running two miles, four days a week. Two days a week I've been using an elliptical trainer, and five days a week I've been doing weight training. All well and good, right?

Problem is that something seems to be wrong with my back; can't figure out what. On my waist, at about the seven o'clock location on my back, there is a ball of pain. I haven't felt any pain during training, nor have I felt any specific injury occur; it just started a month or so ago. My original postulate is that I've been badly swaybacked most of my life, and I've been devoting myself to strengthening my core muscles in the name of tightening up my gut and giving my lower back more support. I had noticed my posture improving noticeably not long before my back started grumbling, so I started suspecting that my back was just having a reaction to readjusting and it would pass. I sometimes felt it at night, would adjust my sleeping position, and it would go away. Sometimes I'd stand up from sitting and had to take a couple of steps in a hunched position before it would loosen up, but it would always loosen up.

Last night, however, I couldn't get more than a couple of hours sleep without being awakened by pain in my back. Today, the pain is constant. If I'm sitting and try to lift my left leg to move it, it feels like a dull blade digging into that spot. Stretching it isn't helping; I even broke down and took some Advil to try to tone it down and that didn't do anything. I'm getting concerned about it now, and it if doesn't start improving here in the next couple of days I'm thinking about taking a trip to the doc.

Any suggestions? This might be a dumb question, but if it's something simple I'd sure appreciate any ideas of how to address this...

11-04-2006, 11:12 PM
Sorry 6Gunner - From your description it's tough to say ... Probably too low for kidneys but still possible (is the pain "reporduceable" and/or worse with certain movements/positions ???). More likely spine or muscle - I'd see a doc, as it sounds like it's getting worse, not better.

Good luck

11-04-2006, 11:29 PM
You may have pinched a nerve or aggravated something with the new stimulation. Is the pain coming from a joint/bone area or more of a muscle sensation?

There are so many things that may be the actual source that the best advice is if you cannot tolerate it go see a doctor or chiropractor to get some professional advice. Also, cut back on the weight training until you've figured the problem out as that'll only increase the chance of further injury or inflammation to the area. Light to moderate cardio on the elliptical shouldn't be an issue but the running may be unduly harsh until you're 100%.

I know when I go back to condition hard after any prolonged absence I try to weight train every other day to build in some recovery thereby, allowing the muscles to come back on board with a regiment. And then even after their past that I never lift the same muscle group two days in a row because on the off days they’ll still get a little workout in compound functions.

My personal experience tells me you’ve got to much going on without enough recovery and you’d be better served alternating your workouts. On lifting days do a light 5-10min cardio warm-up and then lift with a ~15-30min. cardio cool down. Cardio days do a warm-up and then maybe two different options of ~30-45min. Achievable results are more the realistic in only ~45-90min. every other day.

If you not lifting for bulk then the notion of a heavy emphasis on weights doesn’t fit with your overall fitness shape up goal. A good dose of cardio with moderate lifting is going to be one of the more sensible approaches that’ll achieve your goal(s) without overstressing a body that's already trying to overcome an injury.

11-04-2006, 11:47 PM
I would get to a doctor and have him find out what's wrong. Pain does not always show up at the location of the injury. When I had the pinched swollen nerve in my back/spine the pain was in my right leg from the hip to the knee, not in my back.

11-04-2006, 11:50 PM
WHOA!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOLD UP!!!!! You took some Advil! OMG! Advil is a gateway drug! Next you will be taking Advil AND Tylenol or even Aleve! That's how it starts!

Now for some advice: I broke my back 11 years ago. That injury + another car wreck led to more back problems. I've been treated for chronic back pain for over 8 years.

Yes, in the beginning, I started with your evil gateway drug Advil - which burned a hole in my stomach and led to Acid Reflux Disease. Over-the-counter stuff is great if it actually works for you. I take real pain medications everyday - which is why I have to laugh at your Advil addiction.

Based on your extremely brief and vague description, your pain is coming from the nerves in your lumbar spine. Your lumbar disks are inflamed, herniated and/or damaged. The disks bulge and put pressure on the nerves which travel from your lower back - all the way down your left leg. I KNOW - as I also suffer from EXTREME lumbar pain and sciatic nerve pain in the left leg.

There is an overwhelming amount of info on the Internet. However, there are a few basic rules which one must follow:

1. Discuss the situation in great detail with your Doctor. If your Doctor isn't a specialist, then GET ONE. Most general practitioners don't understand the problems.

2. IDENTIFY the cause of the pain. This may sound obvious, but most people don't understand the root-causes of their pain.

3. CONTROL the pain. Pain is a symptom of the injury. If you don't bring it under control, then the situation will only get worse. Pain will eat away at your body, mind and soul. If advil works, then use it. Advil is also an anti-inflamatory which will help reduce the inflamation in your back - which will take pressure off the nerves.

If Advil doesn't work, then add tylenol to the advil. (yes, you can take both) If these don't work, then you will need something stronger like Hydrocodone or Oxycodone. If you have a problem with taking modern medications, then thats too bad. Get over it or suffer. A chronic pain patient like me takes pain meds - just like a diabetic would need to take insulin. Massage therapy is also very effective.

4. Allow your body time to heal. Your Back will not heal if you continue to exercise, work hard and whatever....... Running and all that crap ONLY INCREASES the inflamation in your back - causing more pain! The only excercise I would recommend would be swimming. After you heal, you can work on strength training.




11-05-2006, 07:44 AM
There are a couple things I thought deserved some elaboration.
While I was lucky enough to not be injured to the extent of DragonFire, I can tell you that the intensity and continuity of pain possible from back injuries is beyond your comprehension. In addition to the intensity, the constant nature of the pain will wear you down very quickly. It is very tiring fighting constant pain.

I went from Advil to a heavy dosage of Oxycodone with Methadone as a booster in a very short period of time to control the pain.

Two epidurals eliminated the problem and the pain. Should you reach a high level of medication for pain, I would give you a warning. When the problem is fixed, taper the dosage off over a few days. I stopped immediately when the pain was gone and went through about 3-4 days of nausea and general withdrawals befor getting back to normal.

Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
11-05-2006, 07:45 AM
FWIW, I'd lay off the running, and perhaps even the elliptical until your get this worked out-- high repetition stuff can really irritate the back. The suggestion for swimming is a good one.

As for the weight training, whether this is helpful or hurtful depends on how you are going about it. Are any of the movements at risk for creating lower back compression? e.g. shoulder presses?

Outstanding strength work can be done in many ways-- you should consider some sessions with a good trainer who can customize a routine to your needs.

You say you are stretching-- are you stretching by bending foward or by opening up the front of your body? My guess would be that it definitely needs to be the latter and NOT the former.

Guantes is quite right that symptoms (the pain in your lower back) often have causes elsewhere. In this case, it might be a misalignment in your legs somewhere causing unsound biomechanical movement that overworks the spot in your back that bothers you. THIS CONCEPT IS VERY IMPORTANT. By all means consult with your doctor, but FWIW my experience is that most doctors prescribe what they can do-- it is only human-- but my suggestion to you is to get other people involved as well, perhaps first: as mentioned, a good trainer, perhaps a chiropractor, a good bodywork person, etc.

Obviously, when it comes to the comments of people who don't know you, who have never met or examined you, and lack professional qualifications, only you are responsible for you.


11-05-2006, 09:46 AM
I have a bad back too, herniations at L4-L5 and L5-S1.

20 years ago a Chiropractor taught me something called the McKensie low back exercises. They do not work every time but they have gotten me out of bad pain on multiple occasions. I may have the name spelled wrong so check variations and do a net search.


11-05-2006, 06:10 PM
20 years ago a Chiropractor taught me something called the McKensie low back exercises. They do not work every time but they have gotten me out of bad pain on multiple occasions. I may have the name spelled wrong so check variations and do a net search.


Here you go:


11-05-2006, 07:19 PM
All good advice.

If you do plan on going to the doctor, the first thing the doctor is probably going to do is get an X-ray. If he diagnoses you with something, attempts to treat it, but you're not feeling any better, get an MRI.

My friend has a severe back problem which he's gotten surgery done, and he's experienced many situations where X-rays don't do the job.

Feel better!

11-05-2006, 08:02 PM
6Gunner, do you carry regularly? And if so, do you carry IWB? I started having back spasms at about 5 o'clock and figured out that it was because for the last four months I've been carrying my G23 IWB at about 4 o'clock and when I sit, it pokes me and I sit funny. I quit carrying IWB except occasionally and the back pains have gone away.

Just a thought. YMMV.

11-05-2006, 09:15 PM
Again - based on his brief discription this is probably a text-book case:

1. He recently had surgery to repair a "crushed cervical disk".
2. He has been "struggling to get back into shape" - including loosing weight and focusing on strengthening his abs/core.

Here's the simple version of what has probably transpired:

1. For starters, the human spine isn't designed very well. Our spines were not designed to do the things we humans do every day - such as sitting at a desk for 8-12 hours. In other words, it is an accident waiting to happen.

2. He is/was overweight and is working on his abdominals. A healthy and stable back - especially the lower back - is completely dependent upon your "core" muscles - aka the abdominals & obliques. If your abs are weak and you are carrying extra weight, then your back can and will be injured.

3. The body will always try to compensate for injuries. In other words, his cervical disk & neck was clearly screwed up. Injuries in one part of the spine will cause problems and injuries to other areas of the back & body.

(Note: My situation started out this way - The auto accident fractured 2 vertebrae in my upper back. It also caused a lot of damage to the various ligaments, tendons, and tissues that hold us together. My neck wasn't broken, but the whiplash stretched & tore the ligaments - so much that C2-C7 were displaced. Guess what? Over time, Your body heals and repairs - only with scar tissues which are not as flexible as the original tissues. This restricts the range of motion and causes additional pain & inflamation. In other words - DragonFire's swivel was damaged and my head AIN'T on straight! I even have a copy of the Video Fluoroscopy - showing my skeleton trying a range of motions - proving my head ain't on straight!)

4. 6Gunner's lower back may have been injured previously or he could've caused the inflamation while beginning his new exercise program. Add a serious neck injury and it doesn't take long for the entire spine to get screwed up.

5. Once the inflamation in the lower back starts, it will usually get worse unless treated. 6Gunner is continuing to work out and stretch - in an attempt to fix the problem. However, the exercise is only making it worse. The inflamed lumbar disk will then put pressure on the various nerves and pain will become a constant companion.

6. As previously stated: You must identify the cause of the pain then control/eliminate the pain & inflamation with various medications. There are dozens of options.

Detailed spine injury info at: http://www.laserspineinstitute.com/conditions.aspx

Here is the link for the free newsletter/article on the streching exercises that are specific to the Lumbar Spine & Sciatic Nerve: http://www.losethebackpain.com/sciatica.html

These streches help, but nothing beats a good massage therapist and good pain meds!

11-06-2006, 12:33 PM
Hey, everybody!

Thanks for all your advice and help. The support from y'all has been incredible from the first day I set foot here, and I want to express my appreciation for it.

As an update: I've spent the last couple of days taking it easy; no weight training and no running. I even backed off of the stretching exercises I was trying to do which might have been exacerbating the problem. I gave up on being "manly" and trying to gut it out and settled down to icing the sore spot and alternating between over-the-counter Advil and prescription-strength Motrin. I limited myself to some low-intensity lower ab compressions which have proven to fatigue and strengthen my low abs and don't seem to put undue pressure on my back.

End result is - while my back is still sore and I have to be careful how I sit or stand to keep it from tightening up - I feel noticeably better. I actually slept through the night last night and woke up with only mild discomfort present when I actually stood up. I figure another couple of days of similar improvement and I'll be able to cautiously start training again.

Mojo - In answer to your question, I do carry regularly, but I haven't carried IWB in a couple of years due to there being too much ME in my waistband! :o I'm hoping to change that, ultimately.

Dragonfire - thanks for the links! The stretching exercises at the losethebackpain.com site did wonders right from the outset! Also, thanks for the laugh re: my "Advil addiction".

11-06-2006, 12:35 PM
alternating between over-the-counter Advil and prescription-strength Motrin.Careful...both are simply ibuprofen. Advil is 200 mg per tab. Your prescription strength could be 400, 600 or 800 mg per tab. More than a total of 3200 mg/day of ibuprofen is not recommended.

11-06-2006, 12:41 PM
Careful...both are simply ibuprofen. Advil is 200 mg per tab. Your prescription strength could be 400, 600 or 800 mg per tab. More than a total of 3200 mg/day of ibuprofen is not recommended.

Oh, I know, but thanks for the warning! :) The reason I alternate is to avoid taking too much. The Motrin is 800 mg; I limit myself to one of those once a day, when and if the pain gets too distracting; the standard 200 mg Advil I go with two of them twice a day, all in the name of not going above 1600 for the day but still keeping the pain level down to where it's still there but not kicking my backside.

John McKean
11-06-2006, 02:09 PM
From good experience, check out master trainer Dick Hartzell's "back traction" rubber band exercises which are displayed free on the video section of their website : www.jumpstretch.com (http://www.jumpstretch.com) . These are very mild,quite enjoyable to do actually, and have worked for many college & pro athletes who are Dick's clients. I had some distressing low back problems prior to a big international all-round weightlifting meet held this past Saturday. A good bit of my prior weeks' training time was devoted to the Jumpstretch back traction,and I managed an open world record -painfree- in the two barbell deadlift with 441#, at 85k bwt and almost 61 yrs of age(and my back still feels fine today!!).

11-09-2006, 01:01 PM
Hey, everybody.

Back's been doing all right, although a bit troublesome today. Did some light exercises yesterday and may have overdone it a bit. Have to be careful of how I sit or stand to keep it from tightening up. Nevertheless, I am now going noticeable periods of time where my back just feels a bit tight and not so much painful any longer; a good sign! :D

11-09-2006, 05:17 PM
As a P.T. I would add the modalities of massage/MyoFascialRelease Ultrasound,possible E. Stim. and Moist Heat. Now that the acute period is over your muscles(that have adaptively shortend due to pain,poor body mechanics,injury over a prolonged time, compression on the local blood supply to the muscles,and more stuff at the cellular level) need the only vacation they will get... gentle hands on care. If rest & exercise were going to do it there would be no need for massage. Research has shown that it is very helpful to muscle healing. Just make sure the practitioner doesn't Rolf/deep tissue massage you. Your muscles are already injured. They need TLC for a while.
Also keep up with your meds for a while longer if your stomach can handle it. NSAIDS help often.
Remember,no matter how bad your pain is or what the MRI says...only a few percent ever need neck or back surgery.
I blew L4,5 & had complete footdrop. Only because I'm in the business did I not panic & run to the surgeon. With rest,drugs,PT and smart body mechanics and then when the motor use began to return>75% did I begin gentle stretching/exs. I didn't miss 1 day of work.
Congrats on your continued recovery!
Stay well.