Lower Back Pain in Left Side

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Neb154
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Lower Back Pain in Left Side

Post by Neb154 » Mon Sep 22, 2008 3:23 pm

Hello all,

As part of Madcow's 5 x 5 I have been doing a lot of squatting these past few months. It all has been going great, until about two weeks ago, when I started to get some lower back pain. It is emanating pretty close to the spine, and is pretty sharp. It was originally only on the first rep when i went down, but today, after last lifting on Saturday, I have felt it all the time. I also think it may have been aggravated by my BB bent over rows. I recently switched gyms (when I moved back to school), and I have been trying to find a usable way to pick up the weight for my BB bent over rows, but I definitely feel the back pain when I get those going. And as far as I can remember, I did not feel this pain while deadlifting.

I am hoping that you guys can provide some advice. I think that I may take tomorrow off, as the pain has gotten much sharper today. Tomorrow is only medium weight squatting, though with heavy deadlifting.

Thanks in advance


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Post by Jungledoc » Mon Sep 22, 2008 4:52 pm

My suggestions to try:

Skip squats for a few days, then start back at a slightly lower load (10=20% or so). Review your form, have others check it, or post a video and get input from the experienced members of this forum. Consider single-leg squats for a while. Often they bother the back less. KPj just posted a link in another thread that I haven't had a chance to read yet, about single leg work. The thread is the one about working out at home.

Change to a different kind of row (seated, single arm, face-pulls, etc.) Again pay attention to technique.

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Post by KPj » Tue Sep 23, 2008 4:48 am

To add to that...

I would love to explain how to test hip rotation but it's too complicated. However, what you can do is some hip stretches and rely on what you feel - it might pull up something obvious. In the following articles, there's a 'piriformis / glute stretch', and an 'upper quad / hip flexor' stretch. If you give these a try and notice a blatant difference fromside to side, with one side being notably tighter, then work on evening it out.

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_art ... ng_part_ii

Also try a side plank (do you know side planks?), making sure your hips are extended during them, and see if there's a difference from side to side.

One sided back pain often indicates a rotational discrepancy in the hips and / or a discrepancy in the obliques / core. If you do try these stretches and a side plank on either side and there's an obvious difference, then it will really help if you work on fixing this whilst your taking a break from squats. Chances are you won't find anything with the stuff above but it's deffinitly worth a try.

If you also go with Jungledocs recommendation of some single leg stuff then these discrepancies will probably become apparent in the form of being weaker or more unstable on one side. Since if you had a tighter hip on one side then on that same side the glutes will be weaker. Side to side discrepancies like this will present themselves during bilateral squats, sometimes you can see it during the lift but it's normaly in the form of pain. So really, single leg stuff is sort of like jumping straight to the solution.

I also strongly agree with the Row recommendation Jungledoc made. One arm DB rows may be the most optimal since the back pain is one sided but any of the examples would be good.


KPj

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Post by Neb154 » Tue Sep 23, 2008 9:04 pm

KPj wrote:To add to that...

I would love to explain how to test hip rotation but it's too complicated. However, what you can do is some hip stretches and rely on what you feel - it might pull up something obvious. In the following articles, there's a 'piriformis / glute stretch', and an 'upper quad / hip flexor' stretch. If you give these a try and notice a blatant difference fromside to side, with one side being notably tighter, then work on evening it out.

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_art ... ng_part_ii

Also try a side plank (do you know side planks?), making sure your hips are extended during them, and see if there's a difference from side to side.

One sided back pain often indicates a rotational discrepancy in the hips and / or a discrepancy in the obliques / core. If you do try these stretches and a side plank on either side and there's an obvious difference, then it will really help if you work on fixing this whilst your taking a break from squats. Chances are you won't find anything with the stuff above but it's deffinitly worth a try.

If you also go with Jungledocs recommendation of some single leg stuff then these discrepancies will probably become apparent in the form of being weaker or more unstable on one side. Since if you had a tighter hip on one side then on that same side the glutes will be weaker. Side to side discrepancies like this will present themselves during bilateral squats, sometimes you can see it during the lift but it's normaly in the form of pain. So really, single leg stuff is sort of like jumping straight to the solution.

I also strongly agree with the Row recommendation Jungledoc made. One arm DB rows may be the most optimal since the back pain is one sided but any of the examples would be good.


KPj
Thank you for the tips on the hip flexor. I have always had a somewhat weak left hip flexor; often times i felt as if my hip was going to pop right out, just while waking around. I added in some hip stretching today, in between squat sets (I decided to go ahead with today, as it maxed out at 75% of my 5RM). While it did not get rid of the pain today (which I think is a further reminder that I really should give it some rest), I think that the stretching may provide some help in the future. As for strength though, will the side planks help? If so, I'll definitely add those into my routine. Until then, I plan on taking at least another 2-3 days off of squatting, and lifting in general, and then reassessing then.

Thanks again for everyone's replies.

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Post by KPj » Wed Sep 24, 2008 3:26 am

You'll probably find that if you can get to the bottom of what's going on in your hips, then you're back pain will mysteriously go away.

Did you feel a difference in the stretches? When doing them, keep an eye on your the distance between the back knee and front foot to ensure you're trying for an equal amount of ROM. Our bodies like to trick us like that.

With most pain like this, and especially one sided back pain, what you want to look for is side to side discrepancies. Then work on getting both sides even. Side to side discrepancies have a much bigger correlation with injury than tightness does, and this is one of the first things a good specialist will look for.

The side planks is really to test the endurance and function of you're core, from side to side. It has an emphasis on the obliques, obviously, but you need to make sure you're hips are extended, too (squeeze the glutes). It can also indicate problems with a QL. But it's too difficult to get specific over the net. An easy way is - test your side bridge, till failure (as long as it doesn't cause pain), if one side is notably weaker, then work on bringing it up to par with the good side.

In terms of planks making you stronger - it depends what way you look at it. I think a foam roller makes you stronger, ya know? Improved tissue quality means better movement, which means better form/technique, which paves the way for better lifts. So it just depends how you view it. A lot of people will spit out their coffee if they read someone saying foam rollers make you stronger.

With the planks, if you're bad at them, then improving them can only help. One of the main functions of you're core is also to transfer force from the lower to upper body, and so getting strong isometrically can only improve this... A lot people have a hard time getting themselves 'tight', which is crucial if you want to lift a lot of weight. Planks are good start to learn how to get tight. Personally I always train planks, you can make them more difficult, too. It's also something you throw in at the end of a work out, so it's not a huge commitment..

KPj


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Post by Neb154 » Thu Sep 25, 2008 10:44 am

Thanks for all the advice guys. I will look at my different ROM of the stretching later today.

I had a question about single leg exercises; which would be the best replacement for a bilateral squat? I am hoping to maintain this Madcow workout (as my progress has been increasing linearly) and I am thinking I may be able to just substitute another squat exercise for the bilateral one. There would just be a few hitches: which single-leg exercise to do? And also, how would I split up the reps if I am supposed to do 5 in a set?

Here is one exercise I was considering: http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Qua ... Squat.html

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Post by stuward » Thu Sep 25, 2008 11:09 am

Neb154 wrote:Thanks for all the advice guys. I will look at my different ROM of the stretching later today.

I had a question about single leg exercises; which would be the best replacement for a bilateral squat? I am hoping to maintain this Madcow workout (as my progress has been increasing linearly) and I am thinking I may be able to just substitute another squat exercise for the bilateral one. There would just be a few hitches: which single-leg exercise to do? And also, how would I split up the reps if I am supposed to do 5 in a set?

Here is one exercise I was considering: http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Qua ... Squat.html
That would work, also these:
http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Qua ... tepUp.html
http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Qua ... Squat.html

If you want to do 5 reps you could do 5 on one leg and then switch to the other leg or you can alternate legs with each rep. The first will be harder but the second will enable heavier weight, almost like cluster training.

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Post by Neb154 » Thu Sep 25, 2008 3:23 pm

I have a question about these single leg exercises:

How would I integrate these into the Madcow 5 x 5 plan? Would I simply estimate a new 5RM, substitute that number in, and use one of these exercises three days a week? Or does changing the squat exercise wholly change the plan?

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Post by stuward » Thu Sep 25, 2008 7:35 pm

Madcow calls for squats. Squats will give you more carry over to upper body work as it stimulates stabilizer muscles throughout the body. Substituting will give you different results but the concept is still valid. Your 5 RM for single leg will be less than half of your squat as each leg has to move most of your body weight along with the added resistance. Start low and get used to the movement and then raise the weight to what you think is right. Leave yourself some room for easy progress at the beginning.

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Post by Neb154 » Wed Nov 19, 2008 10:50 pm

For the first time since I've posted in this thread, the pain in the lower left side came back.

I was erging (using the rowing machine), after over a year without touching (I'm an ex-rower), and I guess the return to a movement similar to bi-lateral squats reignited the stress.

Although I have been stretching my hip before I do my single-leg squats (which are going well.. I'm up to around 110 for 5 on each leg. I was at 240 for 5 on back squat before, as a reference).

I was looking over some exercises on the website, and was wondering if this one would help strengthen the right area of my hip:

http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Hip ... ction.html

Thanks again in advance.


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