Back pain - what did I do?

actually I do like a six-pack whenever I hurt my back…:)

When you’re untrained and already injured the best equipment to look into for both strengthening your midsection and relaxing your spine is the so-called Roman Chair. Cheap, no moving parts, fits in a corner. Roman chair situps and back extensions are a great supplementary exercise when you’re already doing weightlifting, and a safe basic introductory exercise when you’re not.

But all this talk about exercise assumes that you’ve got clearance from your doctor to do ANY exercise, so definitely ask first!

Aside - why does all exercise equipment sound like a medieval torture device? I kind of want to make a game out of it. Torture or Weight Lifting.

Roman chair?

Mouth apple?

Preacher seat?

Sit-ups are an incredibly bad idea for anyone with an injured back. If you’ve injured your spine or back, do not begin any course of exercise without consulting your doctor, preferably an orthopedic specialist. There are a great many regular exercises that can injure or worsen your condition, if you suffer from a damaged or weakened spine. Most importantly, do not take exercise advice from well meaning people on a forum. Your spine is nothing to fool around with, and if you fuck it up, that can literally dictate the rest of your life.

I said he should get his doctor’s clearance before doing any exercises. You don’t know the exact nature of his injury, and neither do I.

I suspect most of the exercise advice in this thread is Ghost of Christmas Future advice: That could be YOU, Ebenezer!

If you ARE healthy, and DON’T have any problems with your back yet, get your abdominal (core) muscles all nice ‘n’ strong, so you minimize your chances of having back injuries in the future. And like Houngan said, squats are the best way to do that. Unlike situps or crunches, it’s an exercise that’s strengthening your muscles at their main job (keeping your spine straight), not at putting your spine into flexion; unlike machines, it’s forcing your muscles to do all the little micro-adjustments of keeping your body stable and balanced (I’m a bit bemused at the notion that lying on your back and kicking a sled is a good back exercise).

Most of them aren’t reading the thread most likely, the doomed fools.

Well the doctor didn’t really think my back was a big deal - they are giving me some pain meds, muscle relaxers, and sending me to physical therapy. I am just surprised because I figured with the level of pain I was getting when I moved the wrong way that I was worse off.

Nah - that sounds about right. Just one word of warning - if you’re on SSRIs (many of the more common kinds of antidepressants) you’ll want to maybe not take those muscle relaxants. My pharmacist was the one who had to make the call that those can, you know, cause a seratonin storm, which is generally not what you want when you’re on those.

Sounds similar to my back injury.

So… what exactly was it? Just a muscle cramp or fiber tear?

Recognize that is the stock answer for this type of stuff as it spends the least amount of money and medical care on you and they don’t want to spend the money, unless absolutely necessary, to do an MRI.

I hope you do get better Nathan. If not, force them into doing an MRI …

The sciatic nerve is a wonderfully evil thing. It can send pain down your leg to your foot and make it feel like it has been shot with a laser, or it can make it impossible for you to tie your shoes or get up out of a chair.

I never found muscle relaxers helped any better than just a couple advil.

If this is the first time you have done this, unless you gently start exercising you will probably have it happen again. So ask the therapist for a exercise or stretching program.

Motherfuckin’ THIS. I have had lower back (and sometimes upper back) trouble my whole life, including episodes of spasm that made it damned hard to move in any way, causing me to take half-days off work lying in bed on massive ibuprofen doses, the whole bit. I’ve always been skinny as a rail (6’4", right around 150 - 160 lbs), so in my case it wasn’t an overweight issue.

What it was, was a weakness issue. Simply, I wasn’t getting any serious weight-bearing exercise. That, combined with my sedentary programmer’s job, meant that my body was literally too weak for perfectly ordinary life activities. Like, you know, bending over to pick up a heavy suitcase, or twisting the wrong way in bed. I’m 42 now, so it wasn’t going to be getting any better on its own.

Then Houngan suggested lifting weights casually in one’s office at work, and I tried it, and damn if it didn’t actually start increasing my muscle mass.

Then, about this past April, I happened to see someone link this fucking excellent Men’s Journal article on the critical importance of basic, simple strength training. I read it and I thought it made ten tons of sense, and I started doing this workout. I’ve kept it up, three times a week, a bit less than an hour in the weight room per workout.

Now I’m doing dumbbell squats with 70 lbs in each hand, one-armed (standing-on-one-leg) rows with a 50 lb dumbbell, two-minute planks, and just generally more studly maneuvers than ever in my life. My gently inflating spare tire has converted itself into more muscle. And awesomest of all, my wife has gotten inspired too, and she is in by far the best shape of her life. It has literally done wonders for our relationship – we are very, very into each others’ new buffedness. Eroticizing fitness is one of the best maneuvers we’ve ever made.

And just about the biggest win of all is that I don’t have back pain anymore. I mean, it’s fucking gone. Not even a hint of it. I can bounce my kids around, piggy-back them, toss them in the air, and not worry about that terrible twinge that signals a few days of pain.

TLDR: Lift. Weights. Get. Stronger.

(Of course you have to heal the acute injury first, and you should talk to a good therapist or trainer to get a safe initial workout figured out, but seriously: you deserve to be stronger, and your body needs you to make it strong enough for you to live in.)

Doctors don’t pay for MRIs, patients do. If anything, the incentives often go the other way around because some doctors will order an MRI, read it themselves, and then bill you (or your insurance company).

Unfortunately for people with back pain, an MRI won’t make it go away. It will almost certainly show an abnormality, or two, or three. But it generally won’t affect the treatment. Surgeons are reluctant to get involved until there are symptoms other than pain (i.e. leg weakness or numbness) because they know that surgery has a good chance of causing more long-term pain. That leaves you with physical therapy and pain meds, which was also the plan before the MRI.

So why do so many doctors order an MRI for back pain? I’ve asked dozens, and they always give the same answer: to make their patients STFU.

Take your doctor’s advice, Nathan …

Unfortunately, Magnet is right about surgical outcomes. I certainly wish my doctor had been straight with me about how inappropriate surgical fixation was for my pain issue. It was like throwing water into a grease fire.

This post is baller. Let’s all take a minute to thank our heavens that people who know things are willing to post here.

Yeah, don’t push for surgery. An MRI is harmless if you don’t use it as an excuse to operate immediately, but you don’t need to push for that either.

From what I understand, surgery is has decent outcomes at restoring sensation. Like, if you have numbness in your leg or lose feeling in your wrist. It’s not nearly as successful at fixing pain and carries a risk of making the pain worse.

You’ll have surgery in your back pocket if it comes to it.

In the short term, I really recommend the face down stretch described here:

And the wall test here:

Who are you again?

Which exercises do you do? Dead lift, squat, and bench press plus plank?
This article seems to have bad things to say about the dead lift, if you’re doing it how did you learn to do it correctly?

Does that raise your heart rate enough to be getting cardio or do you not worry about it?

Do you do basically the same exercises each time you do them, just adding weight when you can?

I’ve been searching for the right exercise routine for longer than I can imagine but some little injury always sets me back. Right now it’s knee and ankle tendon pain which is exacerbated by pretty much any cardio I like doing. It’s extremely frustrating to get into an exercise groove then get derailed by some stupid injury. Maybe slow strengthening exercises can work without joint related issues.