How an Injury Improved my training

In my last post i mentioned that my training had taken a step back. Like way back. All because an old lower back injury flared up. I couldn’t go from sitting to standing without being in absolute agony, let alone squat or deadlift. So I more or less stopped training everything except chest and shoulders. I saw a couple physios and their only advice was rest which is the worst advice ever for back pain.

So I gave up on following the advice given and sought advice from a PT. With his help and my own knowledge I devised my own rehab plan that would have me reintroducing squats and deadlifts back into my training within six weeks. And now in week seven I can say that it was a success. I’m back doing both regularly and my lifts fee stronger and are progressing at a speed I’m incredibly happy with. This hasn’t been easy. In fact it’s been incredibly frustrating and my daily training has trained dramatically I these two weeks.

Firstly the amount of mobility work I do has increase tenfold. I used to be one of these ten minute warmup people who would walk on the treadmill and then jump straight into my workout.  Now however, I have to spend at least ten minutes warming up my joints with mobility work. I spend most of my time working on my hips, glutes and lower back but generally do a full body warmup every session. It’s a ballache but I know it is what’s best for me. Yes I get weird looks with some of the stuff I do but I am determined not to get injured again.

I dropped both deadlifts and squats once I realised they were the two moves aggravating my pain. I incorporated more breathing techniques into my training. Making sure that I was engaging my core throughout the breathe and in turn retraining my body how to brace my core. I then began incorporating single leg work. Single leg deadlifts and walking lunges with kettlebells became staple in my workout. I discovered a great strength difference between my two legs, my left being significantly weaker. Coincidentally this was the side the majority of my back pain was situated. So single leg work was probably my main focus.

Alongside this I worked on posterior chain work. Hip thrusts, lat pull downs and upright rows were just a few of the moves I used to strengthen this. Strengthening my posterior chain has massively helped with the pain I have experienced in my lower back.

So for four weeks I followed this pattern and then I decided I wanted to incorporate veriations of the squat and deadlift that I was craving. I started off with a box squat. This allowed me to completely relax at the bottom of the squat taking all pressure off the lower back. I built it up so that I held it at the bottom, ensuring that my core was braced. It took me two weeks to attempt a normal squat. I managed to squat 40kgs without pain. 40Kgs six weeks ago was causing me agonising pain to the point where I was sa on the floor crying. So this was quite the achievement. I aim now to do squats every week and am putting on an average on 5kgs a week. I feel I could go heavier but I don’t want to push it too fast.

Deadlifts however did not go so smoothly. I had a massive fear that they would pull my back out and would cause me to be in pain again. I booked back in with my PT, more for reassurance more than anything. I had him watch my form with just the bar and there was no pain whatsoever. As soon as the weight was put on the bar I felt sick to my stomach. I just knew that it would cause me pain. I had a great PT who sat there and told me that if it hurt I can just drop it but I won’t know until I tried. So I stood there in front of a 30kg bar and deadlifted it for ten. I could feel that my back was fine but my head just kept telling me that it would spasm if I carried on. But yet again more weight was added onto the bar and this time at 40kgs after four reps I dropped it. Purely because I was scared of my back being sent into spasm. I have begun deadlifting on my own but there is still a sense of fear with the move. I know in the long run it will be beneficial to my lower back strength. I haven’t managed to push 40kgs but I’m in no rush at this moment in time.

My back injury set me back in progress by six-eight weeks. I aim to come back stronger with better form and I have actually really enjoyed working on my own rehab program and using what I know to help myself rather than hinder myself.

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