By: Coach Taylor
Im sure by this point in your fitness or lifting career you know that INJURIES SUCK!
But you don’t have to stop training altogether. I personally have a history of lumbar injuries L4/L5 specifically.
In my former life I was a powerlifter.
I had so many back injuries that I decided to become a bench press only powerlifter. For close to 3 years I trained my lower body very light while pushing the upper body work to extremes. instead of getting bummed out about what I couldn’t do, I focused on what I could do.I eventually figured out what i was doing wrong, and worked my ass off to try and not get injured again.
Becoming a Crossfitter/Crossfit coach helped the recovery process. Moving lighter weights made me less prone to re-injuring my back. I was also strengthening my weaknesses and practiced my technique faults.
As I got stronger I gravitated back towards my true love, lifting heavy! Although I had done some Olympic lifting in the past, I wasn’t very good and did not dedicate any real time to the lifts until my Crossfit days. Eventually the metcons went away and I found myself snatching, clean and jerking, and squatting almost every day. With a history of back injuries the pulling and squatting every day had me cautious and careful. Thats where the modifications really came in.
When my back gets tired i move to the blocks. Block lifts and pulls take most of the stress off of your back but allow you to still do the full lifts. The added bonus is that block lifts also make you a better weightlifter.
Requiring full extension to move the weight and a fast 3rd pull to get under the bar with less time. It’s a win win. Especially if you are staying healthy in the process. Here is a 90 kilo snatch from blocks from a while back.
Need to work your legs with a tired lower back? — Split squats are the way to go.
You can still move decent weight but with an almost completely upright torso taking any real strain (besides compression) off of the back. The plus here is possibly fixing a strength imbalance. Weightlifters always split jerk with the same leg forward. Doing split squats with both legs could help balance your leg strength out and in turn, make you stronger overall.
Again, you’re doing this while avoiding an injury.
Goblet squats and step-ups are fine exercises but you’re not going to be able to hold a 200lb kettlebell with your arms for 10 reps, so you’re not going to get the same training effect. Belt squats are awesome too but unless you have the machine, rigging up a dip belt with chains and weights is a pain.
Exercises that allow you to lie down are VERY helpful….obviously! All bench press variations. Chest supported rows and laterals.
If you’re in a commercial gym there are a lot of options but at home, you’re going to have to get creative. The last thing you want to do is stop moving altogether. If you really are injured, go get an x-ray and an MRI. I highly recommend finding a good chiropractor who does ART, graston, or some form of soft tissue work. Rolfing is amazing.
They can help you stay healthy and help diagnose where you have weaknesses and mobility issues that led to or could lead to more serious problems. Figure it out along with your coaches, then attack that weakness until it becomes a strength.