Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Low Back my case..the disc

Intelligent Quote of the Month:
"To me, the sign of a really excellent routine is one which places great demands on the athlete, yet produces progressive long-term improvement without soreness, injury or the athlete ever feeling thoroughly depleted. Any fool can create a program that is so demanding that it would virtually kill the toughest marine or hardiest of elite athletes, but not any fool can create a tough program that produces progress without unnecessary pain."
Dr. Mel C. Siff

This quote is great. My twin brother Keats recently put it in his excellent newsletter. If you have not signed up for his newsletter, you can do so at
I agree with the late Mel Siff. How easy it is to design a program that can easily SMOKE somebody. But how difficult is to design a program that get someone super strong yet with no injuries. Something to think about, espeically me with my back issues.

Disc Injuries -

The majority of disc injuries are caused by repeated flexion with rotation. I'm not sure this was my reason for injury, although with heavy deadlifts (which is what injured my spine this time)I know I lose lumbar lordosis. However the majority of disc disorders are caused by poor habits and lazy postures. I wouldn't consider my posture to be lazy, although I have established some poor work habits while working with my clients. Flexing my lumbar spine while doing bodywork, picking up dumbbells and weight plates with a flexed spine. Done once or twice is not a big deal, but done repeatedly day after day for years will destroy the integrity of the disc. I'm convinced that 95% or more of back injuries are result of bad lifting and postural habits. These injuries can be prevented with correct postural exercises and changing habitual movement patterns.

Spinal Instability -
Tissue is damaged from joint laxity, and joint laxity leads to instability. With decreased disc height comes ligament laxity which causes this instability. So when people injure their backs they often feel that there back is too tight, which is often a total fallacy. These same people will try to "stretch" out their pain and this often makes their condition worse. I have experienced this in my own body. The more I stretch my lumbar spine, the more I hurt. If I do too much Joint mobility, Z-heatlh, etc..., I hurt. Most people need more stiffness in thier lumbar spine, not less, especially if they are lifting weight and playing sports. The older I get the more I benefit from stability exercises in the lumbar area where the focus is maintaining a neutral spine.

Much more to come on this topic.......


Mark Reifkind said...

do not forget that with your scoliosis( which I also have) you have a "built in" flexion/rotation situation to deal with. even when you are "square" you arealy are not. so when you do heavy back centered lifts( read:deadlifts)that promote flexion, especially with no belt, you have the potential for accumulated microtrauma at the very least.

if not a situation for an acute incident.I still have to be very very careful about which exercises I do,especially abs and heavy bilateal lifts, or my disc get too much pressure and get irritated.

also, I truly beleive WAY too much emphasis is placed on atheltic performance trainng and far too less on regular training for regular people. Just think , if one is VERY VERY luck, they might have a ten to fifteen year period IN THEIR ENTIRE LIFE, when being a performance athlete is important. The rest of the time small goals and basic fucntion rules. Just something to thinka bout. esepcially easy when one is hurt :))

heal well

Mark Reifkind said...

oh yeah, I NEVER can stretch my lumbars, just my abs/front panel.I contract my posterior chain and stretch my flexion chain to stay in balance. your back is probably "taut" not tight.

Franz Snideman said...

So true. With my short leg, bilateral execises have always hurt me. As much I love to do heavy deadlifts, obviously my body doesn't tolerate them. Squats either. Light weight KB squats are fine, but barbell squats, out of the question.

I actually need more lumbar mass. I have much lumbar mass a baby kitten. Any ideas of adding some mass back there when my back gets healthier. Reverse hypers? Bent Over Rows?

Tom Shook, RKC said...

Franz..that quote by Mel Siff is right on, and has been my approach for quite a while. I can say that I have never injured myself seriously through training, although I have plenty of "dings" that are work related.
If you add a little to a little, over time you will have a lot. That was something I had to learn about myself in terms of volume-like I posted on my blog, volume tears me down, so I have to build up slowly, although I can be up the intensity much more quickly?
Anyways, take care of your back and if something hurts..don't do it! (No shit huh? LOL!!)

Tom Shook, RKC said...

P.S. I want to start competing in Master's T&F...need some info/ advice. Are you competing or planning to?

Geoff Neupert said...

Great thoughts, Franz. Have you considered the idea that a lack of lumbar stability (hyper-mobility?) could be due to a lack of mobility/too much stability somewhere else in your body?

If you have the R-Phase, I strongly suggest you perform the ankle tilts, toe pulls, and hand and wrist work. See what happens. Just remember to be slow and precise.

Keep healing and posting your progress.

markrif said...

for safe lumbar hypertrophy training I would do 5-6 sets of varying reps in the back extensions with weights either behind the neck or held in from

2-3 sets of 5-8 reps
2-3 sets of 10-12
2-3 sets of 20-30

obviously buildup to this workload slowly and do it at the end of the workout at least once but could be done twice a week.

Franz Snideman said...


Hopefully if my back heals up and I can back stronger than before, I would still like to compete in some 60 meters/100 meters comps.

that is great that your are thinking of competing is T&F. It is a great sport, as you already know. What are you Q's?

Geoff, For sure I must have some hypomobile joints above and below my hypermobile joint(L-4/L-5). My feet are very stiff as are my toes. Hips are not too bad. Upperback is brutally tight as are my wrists and fingers.

Mark, thanks for the advice. Right now I am still doing some very minimal loading but when my back feels better I must implement those exercises in. Physiologically my spine won't allow me to extend right now.

Geoff Neupert said...


No surpises there--just as I expected. Please surprise yourself by performing the Z for hands, wrists, feet, and ankles. Also, playing devil's advocate, be careful about only training in a neutral spine--you will eventually need to train outside of neutral, otherwise, you will open up yourself to more injuries.

Keep on keeping us updated.

Franz Snideman said...


Started to do some Z-health on my ankles, hands and feet today. Also rolled my feet with a tennis ball and it did have a nice effect on the whole nervous system (less neural tension). I will keep you posted as I am tryting to work on my wink links which I am discovering are in large my feet and ankles.

Do you recommend the foot rolls? or the ankle mobility or both?

Joefitness said...

Nice dialog gents, very informative. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, ideas. That Z stuff has me curious

Royce said...

Franz thanks for reading my blog.
I have been working with grippers since 4/21 of this year and I couldn't close the #1 when I first got it. Now I can close the #2 if I hold the spring. I am doing KTA for grippers. I want to close the #3 within the next year.