Hi, my name is Kevin, I’m not a power lifter, but love building strength and am a former competitive BMX bike rider. After 3 years of a back injury from bmxing (made worse by poor spine hygiene and working out with poor form) that made me flexion and extension intolerant, in April of 2017 to December 2018, I had finally developed enough pain free tolerance and strength to start make significant progress at the gym and was riding my bmx again for short periods of time with a more neutral spine posture mostly pain free. In December I was feeling so great that I started pushing myself really hard at the gym, shovelled a ton of snow early in the morning, and had a near-fall on some ice where I didn’t slip but engaged my back to what felt like 100% in some extension. To nobody’s surprise, my intolerance to flexion and extension returned in January with a vengeance and some sharp pain as well as some sciatica. Though I have made some progress since then after reading the Back Mechanic, I never fully embraced the desensitization period. I continued to do some push-ups, dips, body weight rows and squats twice a week in addition to the walking program and the big three daily and my back as stayed quite sensitized. After a couple weeks of feeling much better I tried some pull-ups that only resensitized my extension intolerance, I realized that I need to put my ego away and give this a real shot. So, for the last two weeks I have been doing only the big three (with quite a modified bird dog, as anything more than raising my arm in front of me causes pain) walking and practicing as much spine hygiene as I possibly can as a kindergarten teacher.
My plan is to continue doing this indefinitely until I have enough tolerance to make progress with the big three, but I am curious as to when I can start adding push ups, bodyweight rows and squats, as I know my tendency is to jump the gun. Should I be completely pain free throughout my entire day before trying them? Or is it okay to integrate them if they are pain free and do not agrevate my back during and after?
Thanks in advance
First of all it’s very refreshing to read such a knowledgable question and obviously you have done your home work with GOI and Back Mechanics! I went through a very similar experience with a severe spine injury after years of contact sports and Strongman, so I feel your pain! Literally haha. My personality type and impatience is exactly why I reached out to Brian for coaching and guidance as years of these bad and rushed decision only compounded my back injury. I’m not 100% on the specifics of your injury but I will tell you what I learned the hard way and was reminded constantly during rehab. Spine recovery is very specific and changes from person to person. That being said, one underlying rule that I feel is valuable to everyone is to be pain free for a very long time before loading the body with knew variables. These “months and months” vary from person to person and injury history but it wasn’t until I was pain and symptom free for about 5 months (in a row) that I starting to get some barbell and body weight work back. There are no clear cut answers during recovery but one thing is certain, as Brian told me, there is nothing free in physiology, so be very judicious about what and when you add movements into your training until you are pain free for quite sometime. This fact remains the same going forward as well. Hope this helps!!