Many of you reading this will have either suffered from back pain or know someone suffering from back pain. I think the statics are roughly 60-70% of people end up suffering from back pain at some point in their life. Pushing your body to its limit comes with risks, and as athletes or hobbyists, we mainly accept this and act as if it will never happen to us.
Some may be severe and some not, but I can tell you from experience that it's not only annoying. It's also demoralising. But it doesn't have to be the end. There's a good chance you can make a good recovery and continue to pursue your training or athletic goals.
You are up to this point!
Five to six years ago, I to suffered from a slipped disk. The funny thing was I was only warming up for front squats. I think it was only 40 or so kilos. As I hit the bottom position BOOOM, I got a sharp shooting pain going through my entire low back and somewhat of my leg.
It seems like I just got my membership to the bad back barry club earlier in my life than I had expected. Bailed and dropped the weight, I decided to do the most sensible thing and stop the session there. After waiting for my brother to finish training, he eventually drove us both home, and it wasn't until I got home that I realised just much trouble I was actually in.
Have you seen the wolf on wall street, where he takes those drugs and has to crawl out of his Lambo? Yeah, im pretty sure Martin Scorses took inspiration from me that day. I was in a bad way!
The following day I got an emergency appointment with the physio, and we figured out it was two herniated disks. L4 &L5, due to poor posture, tight quads & hip flexors and a weak core. The years of rugby, impact and lifting wasn't helping the situation. The physio gave me stretches to do and a prescription to get some gentle moving in within pain limits. So I got to work doing it as frequently as I could. I was determined to revoke my membership to the bad back barry club.
I won't lie; it's not a fun process. It's slow, arduous and demoralising.
The first few weeks are the worst because it feels like you're not getting anywhere.
But I was determined not to become a victim of this injury. I'd do a minimum of 5x rehab sessions a day. I was committed to getting back to rugby and lifting again as soon as possible. I know not everyone will be able to fit in that many rehab sessions each day, but do what you can when you can.
It's going to be slow, but to keep yourself focused, make notes of all the minor improvements you're making. This can be the reduction of pain killers to putting your shoes on pain-free. Eventually, these minor improvements won't be a reduction of painkillers, but air squats, loaded squats, and then back to complete training with no pain.
I cannot advise finding yourself a good physiotherapist enough. Having one in your corner will mean that you're doing the right things for your specific injury.
Upon your return to training, the next thing is the psychological barriers you will now face. These can often be worse than the injury itself and certainly longer lasting. You will need to start gently, but eventually, you will have to face that movement that previously caused you considerable pain. Now, it's worth finding yourself a trainer who can work with you at this stage to make sure that you're loading progressively and correctly.
It wasn't an overnight fix; it took a few months to heal fully and get me back to lifting confidently and playing rugby again. But it was so worth all the effort because I no longer have to worry about it.
If you're at the stage where you're looking for a trainer to help you with your training structure and loading strategies as someone who has been in your position, I'd be undoubtedly keen to lend you a hand and help you get yourself back to your regular training routine.