View Full Version : Training after low back injury - Struggling with higher frequency/volume

08-16-2013, 05:49 AM
So a couple of months ago I pulled my low back pretty badly. I got it checked out by a chiropractor (who luckily is a powerlifter himself). I had some SI irriations but nothing serious, it was just very sore and inflamed, so I took it easy on deadlifting for a month and slowly it got better.

The weird thing was I was able to squat and bench okay, just deadlifting was a no go. I managed to PR in my squat last month with a 180kg raw (belt and sleeves only) at a bodyweight of 70kg which was awesome. I usually pull with a conventional stance, but have switched over to Sumo (again). My numbers for both stances are equal, but I prefer conventional because its a more consistent lift for me, however, I can't pull heavy on them any more without hurting my lower back.

The issue I'm having is I'm really struggling to follow the RTS template as my back just gives out after my main lifts for both squat main and deadlift main so I can't perform my secondary movements very well. Because of the lack of recovery, its meant that my deadlift keeps on yo-yoing from good to bad. Last week I managed to pull 170x5 Sumo which is my current 5RM, but this week I could barely pull it off the floor. It seems that my low back just gives up on me when I want to hit a reasonable number.

My injury isn't serious, I'm just struggling to recover from the high frequency, especially during my volume phase. What should I do? Should I reduce my training frequency on the main lifts? My training sessions have been awful lately because my motivation is pretty low from the constant setbacks.


- Mehrad

Mike Tuchscherer
08-27-2013, 03:57 AM
Sorry to hear about the SI, Mehrad. I know those injuries can be frustrating.

I have injured my SI joints a few times while deadlifting and it's always related to rounding my back. Do you have any video of your conventional pull? Another possible issue is that it could be that it's not getting time to heal. The first time I injured my SI, it took forever to get back to deadlifting. Partly it's because I'd try to come back too soon and injure it again. And the other part is it just takes it a long time to heal.

I'd say schedule 4 weeks and re-introduce slowly.
Wk 1: 15% x10
Wk 2: 30% x10
Wk 3: 45% x10
Wk 4: 60% x8
Each week should be entirely pain free and feel like you could move a lot more, but keep it slow. If it's not pain free, then rest more and start over.

08-27-2013, 09:32 AM
Just wanted to add some things that help when I tweak my back.

You can try smashing the high bits of ur hammies with a lacrosse ball and maybe try some stretches. Tight hammies can put tension on the SI joint. The first one is my favorite but I never do the second part (IT band stuff). U can try the second stretch after if u want.


Oh, and hit the piriformis as well.

12-10-2013, 03:12 AM
Sorry for the late reply, I just saw this now (been busy with my new job at a gym). Thanks for the help Mike and r1smith. I'm more or less recovered now although I still get some discomfort sometimes but as long as I do my mobility work on a daily basis (quads, IT band and piriformis) its managed ver well. I've found that switching over to sumo again with a tweak has helped prevent further injury too. Here's a video of me pulling a pr of 180kg x5 pain free :)


Damien Thompson
12-16-2013, 07:30 PM
I've never had a back issue myself, i think mainly cause i have a very pronounced anterior tilt. In most back issues i've seen similar to your, the person has a flat back.

Something i've been playing with myself and a few of the people who have injured themselves where i train, is always prioritizing the back position from the set up. A lot of people grab the bar in a shit position, and then try to set a good position before they lift... some can do it... but alot can't.

I will have people set the back in a standing position, and maintain the arch/anterior pelvic tilt while they are lowering themselves to reach the bar.

One thing i have noticed, is that the process to getting down to the bar can have an impact on your ability to maintain your arch... for example. I'll use the conventional deadlift for my example, but it may also be relevant to the sumo. I'm not sure, cause i haven't played with it yet (and even my thoughts on this are still a little scrambled)

Assuming you have set the back in standing, and by set i mean creating a global extension along the entire length of the spine (if the ribs flare, you are only extending in the lumbar, not the entire spine).

From this set position, if the first movement is hinging at the hips - you are loading the hamstrings and creating a force that is posteriorly tilting the hips.
I feel this makes it harder to maintain the arch throughout the movement.

If however, you set the position, break at the knees first, you are loading the hip flexors, which are pulling you into a anterior tilt. This secures the anterior tilted position which we are trying to maintain.

Obviously the hips have to go back at some point, but its almost like a squat to start, and then halfway down your hips push back to the deadlift starting position with the spine always staying set.

I found that loading this is like giving the hip flexors a head start before the tug-a-war beings between the hip flexors and the hamstrings for the direction of the pelvic tilt.

Of course, it goes with out saying that other things matter as well like your ability to get the thighs out of the way for the asis to come through so you can actually get into an anterior tilt and obviously all the other technique cues for a successful deadlift.
But this little tweak on set-up has worked well so far with fixing starting position on the deadlift, and with the bottom of the squat too with the people i have tried it on. For some it took away the pain. For others, once they were able to lift again pain free, it prevented the injury from reoccurring.

Damien Thompson
12-16-2013, 07:33 PM
For sumo, i like Dan Green's set up. Quite deliberate, and very conscious of his positions by the look of it.