back-pain

Hey Alfonso,

I had a back injury a year ago and was told not to perform my workout while standing and to avoid some exercises like dead lifts, sit ups, leg lifting, etc.

Would you mind preparing a workout for those who had a back injury and need to keep exercising while avoiding possible back injury?

I really enjoy all the good information you post.

Thanks you.

Paulo

 

Hey Paulo. How are you today?

I’m going to give you some helpful tips but first I must stress that I am NOT a doctor, a physical therapist, orthopedist and I don’t have any formal medical training.  What I do have is a huge amount of experience with injuries and vast knowledge of exercise variations. And while you haven’t given me any specifics to what exactly your injury is, I can still point you in the right direction.

I have to tell you that I’m a bit surprised that your doctor said to avoid standing during exercise. Perhaps this is just a short-term suggestion to reduce inflammation and promote healing? I can totally see avoiding exercise like deadlifts and sit-ups. These are spinal flexion and extension exercises that can exasperate an injured disk. But to indefinitely stay seated and avoid standing during exercise doesn’t follow. I believe that sitting causes more back related injuries than any other habit. It lengthens the muscles of the back, shortens muscles on the front of the body and overall contributes to terrible posture. It also weakens your core and will eventually make you terribly unstable.

If you have a disk related issue then sitting may seem like a better option but I’m not so sure. If you were to sit on a bench and perform biceps curls, you’re body is essentially locked in on a rigid surface. When you stand, you get a bit of give in the knees, feet and in general your body will ‘flex’ a bit. So in my mind standing is the better option as it reduces stress on the back and puts the spine in better alignment. Of course this is assuming use of appropriate weights, perfect form and not pushing yourself too hard. When you think about it, the human body isn’t designed to perform tasks while in a seated position – it’s just unnatural. And it’s a bit contradictory that you’ve been asked to avoid exercises that involve spinal flexion, yet are told to sit. See my point?

You have to remember that most doctors will follow a protocol that covers a broad spectrum of patients. They just don’t have the time to get into specifics with each individual and every injury. So what they ‘prescribe’ for you is most likely similar to what they’d prescribe to others. I’m not dismissing what’s been told to you, but I am telling you that you may need to become more pro-active. What I mean is that you need to do some research of your own, find online resources for your injury and read what’s worked for others in your situation. Whenever a trainee suffers an injury that causes them to avoid certain primal or organic movements like standing, there will almost always certainly be long-term consequences. You may feel a bit of relief in the short term but in the long run the avoidance of certain movements and disruption of how the body functions will eventually lead to further issues. So I personally urge you to consult another doc, preferably a sports medicine orthopedist, seek physical therapy and don’t take anything at face value.

With my little rant over, this is an example of a full body workout you can do based on doctor’s orders:

1. 5 minute on recumbent bike

2. Dumbbell or machine Chest press x 15 reps

3. Seated machine row x 15 reps

4. Seated dumbbell or machine side laterals x 15

5. Seated dumbbell or machine biceps curls x 15

6. Floor hip bridge x 15

Repeat ALL for 3 sets.

Now I know this doesn’t look like much or seem very interesting. And I nearly never recommend machine use. BUT I’m following your doctor’s prescription to the letter. I’ve also avoided nearly any leg work or anything that involves overhead activity because I’m unsure of the nature of your back injury. However when you speak with your doc, ask them if Swiss ball squats and hamstring roll–ins are safe for you. And if you seek physical therapy, they’ll surely be able to show you more exercises that comply with your needs.  The routine that I’ve given you will help maintain some strength, burn calories and if you perform it correctly, should be fairly challenging while remaining safe.

Good luck Paulo! I know being injured is hard. But I urge you to focus your drive and attention to what you CAN do as opposed to wasting energy dwelling on what you can’t.

And if you have a question – please just click here. I’d love to help you!

 

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