Returning after back injury

Hope you can help me please.  I have been off running for three months due to a back injury which has finally been diagnosed as a degenerate disk and which gives me much pain and stiffness.  In my head I am frustrated and really want to get back to my running, but I don't know how to get back out there and what is reasonable with this injury.  I am not an experienced runner, but I would still like it to be part of my life. I have lost my mojo image  Thanks for any advice you can give.


  • I have struggled with my back for around 3 years, I have a very reduced L5 disc, I am still able to run, some days its good others bad but I am always as stiff as board regardless of what distance I have run afterwards,I do the usual stretches and core work to help manage the situation although I have how resigned myself to the fact that 13.1 miles would be the longest I could do now. I can usually tell within the first 5 mins of my run if its going to be ok and sometimes give up and go back home because it is too uncomfortable. I do get frustrated as have no idea why some days I can run and other days I cant!!  Fingers crossed you are able to get back soon xx


  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    How much common sense is involved in persisting with an activity that causes pain and discomfort?


  • To RicF. I came to running very late. It liberated me. I found something I loved doing and became the fittest I had ever been. That's why I don't want to give up. The absence of that boost is unimaginable. Therefore, I was hoping for some encouragement and hope. Thanks anyway.

    Thanks Geri h - I hope you have lots more good days than bad. And keep loving your running. C

  • mr fmr f ✭✭✭
    Hi, I'm awaiting the results from my MRI but after receiving osteopath treatments for he last four weeks I appear to have a similar problem. My L5 is possibly prolapsed or significantly degenerated with a couple of others showing signs of degeneration too.... The osteopath has helped no end and what with all of the stretches and core work that she has prescribed I'm starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Incredibly frustrating, I've not been able to run in about 3 months now!!

    I've now been given the do ahead for gentle gym work, ie yen minutes in the cross trainer, stretches and then ten minutes on a bike as I've got lots of strength etc to build up again.

    It's taught me how weak my core was and how Vital your core really is!

    Good luck on he recovery guys...
  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    I stand by what I say, however all is not lost. There's plenty of evidence to suggest that this is a condition that can be sorted. It might need surgery, perhaps not.

    A women around the corner from where I live has run several marathons, and that was after having more than one vertebrae fused.

  • Thanks mr f and RicF.  It sounds as though there is hope after all.  My osteopath has said he has written to my GP and one possibility is a steroid injection in my back to calm the inflamation around the problem.  However, since the diagnosis, I have been following my old routine of stretches and sleeping with a roll under the small of my back - and taking ibuprofen temporarily and it does seem better. The weather was so lovely today, I had planned to go out and try a short run/jog, but our builder came round and it was late when he left.  Tomorrow maybe....... and I agree about the core, I am weak, so will do more varied exercises to get strength up.

    Good luck mr f.  If you love running, go gently and stay well, but hopefully you will be back outside again soon. 


  • mr fmr f ✭✭✭
    Well... The results are in! My S2, L5,L4 and L3 are all degenerated and dehydrated. Also have spinal stenosis. Osteopath appointment tomorrow to translate it all into English as here other things mentioned which I don't quite understand!

    Has anyone had any experience of injections? Either anti inflammatory or pain relief? It may be something I enquire about tomorrow cos I'm really struggling at the moment, the only pain free position is laying on my front resting on my elbows!
  • mr fmr f ✭✭✭

    Hiya folks, how are we getting on? I'm 24 hrs out of spinal surgery now having had inter laminar spacers inserted at both L3/4 & L4/5 disks. Incredibly sore and stiff but fingers crossed my problems are behind me and I can now start the very slow process of recovery and back to full strength. 

    Hope others conditions are easier cos it's a bloody frustrating time I know!

  • I have suffer from 3 bulging discs and degeneration of one of my facet joints, this has gotten worse over the years(about 20 of them actually) However after many years of osteopath treatments, physio and a ridiculous amount of pain relief (which I no longer have to take as much of) I am finally at a happy place with my back and running. Like Geri h said, I have days where everything is good before and after the run and days when I grab for the painkillers.  Its all about managing the pain and if you have a day when you think "this is to sore" then turn back and go home, there's no point in aggravating it more, there will be other runs.  I did do core exercises which has helped a great deal, my tummy is nice and strong now so this supports my back, my mum used to say its your belly that holds your back up and she was right.

    It is REALLY frustrating and I would get really annoyed with myself but you get passed that.  Good luck .

  • p.s I came into running late as well so I aint giving up now!!


  • mr fmr f ✭✭✭
    Good to hear from you Claire. I'm so glad that you're back running! All is good this end, physio happy and I head off for a two week stay at a rehab hospital (through work) a week Monday so I'm hoping they're gonna work wonders! Initially estimated that il be running 9 months ish after surgery but I reckon it may be sooner. But little steps they say, I'm only 35 so plenty of years running left in these legs I think! ????
  • Mr F that's brilliant news, 35 is very young so don't despair, not only will you have lots of time running you'll heal quicker.  Onwards and upwards as they say.  Best of luck and enjoy the rest, keep us posted ximage


  • I know there has been a long time since my last post.  I have really struggled with my back and have only managed about 3 shortish (3 miles) runs between March and May.  We went on holiday in May and I fell on the second day and have badly sprained my ankle.  I was on crutches for six weeks and am just off them. It is still swollen and painful.  Now I am really frustrated as I can do absolutely nothing and have been advised that I will not be able to run for about 9 months (I tore several ligaments completely).  I have put on a stone and a half as I am comfort eating because I am so down.  

    Life is pretty difficult and bleak at the moment.  I had got myself into a really good place.  I was slim, fitter than ever and really enjoying my running.  Now I am just a blob with a very sore foot and back.  

    Any wise thoughts would be really welcome.



  • mr fmr f ✭✭✭
    Ahhh Claire I have been exactly there. I'm now 7 weeks post surgery and still can't run but am able to be more active. I put a lot of weight on whilst I couldn't exercise, similarly due to comfort eating and also cos my metabolism just seemed to just come to a grinding that. Il be able to use a cross trainer soon so I'm focussing on taking things slowly and building my fitness back up and hopefully starting to she'd some weight.

    What's the current situation with your treatment?
  • Hi all,

    I had lower and upper back pain for years when I was younger. Tried lots of things which helped a little but what got me permanently pain free was doing exercises which rebalanced by body and got everything working properly.

    Back pain happens for a reason, there is a root cause, and I know how much it can hurt, but taking medications or injections are not a long-term solution as they don't address the root cause, which very often is some imbalance in your structure.

    You may have degeneration, and stenosis, and a disc issue, but many people do and don't have pain and can run, so don't give up!

    This video has 4 exercises which I still do to this day:

    Good luck


  • Not quite the same situation as all you guys, but prior to starting to run I had had chronic back problems since birth. I was born with spina bifida and myelomeningocele, which was repaired at birth. Fortunately, I never had any real mobility problems when younger, but did begin to experience worsening back pain as  I progressed into adulthood. Despite my medical history, I was pretty much labelled a malingerer by a succession of GPs and told to take paracetemol/ibuprofen and sent to pointless physio sessions. By my early thirties the pain was so bad it was affecting my mobility and I was also suffering from weakness in both legs. Luckily, I was sent to see a private occupational health consultant by my employer, who reviewed my medical history and wrote to my GP demanding why further investigations had not been undertaken. I was subsequently sent for MRI scans, which showed that my spinal cord was tethered. I was referred to a specialist, who operated to detether the cord, but also found tethering of nerves to the scar tissue from my original repair at birth. Following my op I was pretty much bedbound for the best part of 18 months, incontinent and very dependent on morphine for pain relief for a large proportion of that time. I also had 2 young children under the age of 5, who I couldn't pick up or play with. After a number of false dawns, where I would be able to be a bit more mobile for a couple of weeks before ending up in excruciating pain, I finally started to recover. However, a combination of a lack of exercise and medication had seen my weight rise from around 175 lbs to almost 280!!!

    So, I started going to the gym in early 2012 to try and shift some of the weight. I never planned to run, as I had always hated athletics and cross-country at school, but got on the treadmill and managed a massive 2 minutes @ 8 km/h!! Eventually I started running outdoors and by June had progressed to being able to run 6-7 miles @ 9 minute miling and so joined the local running club. In November 2012 I ran my first marathon, the Cornish marathon, in 3.53 and since then haven't looked back, running various distances including more marathons and a couple of ultras. I've got my weight back down to 195 lbs and this weekend I'll be running the Plague, the furthest yet at 64 miles, and am already thinking of trying a 100 miler some time in 2015. I hope that all of you that suffer with back problems get to be as lucky as I've been and that some form of medical intervention can get you back to running. Good luck to you all!!!

  • Wow!  This is a very inspiring story Mazeman. You put us mere miserable mortals to shame with our problems.  I have been seriously thinking for a while that I need to get some proper medical help for my back and now for my poorly ankle, which is also taking ages to mend.  This can't be right that my body is in such pain for so long.  I must, really must start to move again, even if I just start really slowly.  However, I have worked my way into such a mental pit that it is getting harder by the day.

    I am trying to take Ruth Field's advice (from the book 'Get Your S*** Together' and proverbially 'just clean one shelf' - in other words, just do something.  Walk, swim, pedal - anything.  And for Heaven's sake I need to stop eating my way through the European Food Mountain as compensation.  No matter how logical my brain is, a nice packet of gluten free chocolate biscuits takes the misery away - but only for the 30 minutes it takes to eat them.

    Talk about a mess!!!!!!

    Thanks for keeping putting the odd post here.  I like being not alone.........

  • I had a back problem which stopped me exercising completely for a while.

    Started piling on the weight big style.

    Then decided enough was enough and had a major look at my diet.

    Not rocket science stuff but basically cut out crisps choc and sweets.

    I could not believe it the weight started falling off after a week even though was doing no exercise.

    For years I had run/cycled/swam for hours every week and the weight had reduced but never as quick as this.

    Anyway the point of the post is although I still love exercise I learnt a valuable lesson, it really is more down to what you eat that influences weight gain. 

    Just be prepared for a week of "pain" as your body/mind adjust image

  • ... this is most bizarre reply. Once had 2 slipped disks. 6 months in bed. Also have calcification on lover vertebrae. Suffered painful lower back all my life and insomnia of course!

    Allllllllllll gone! Stopped grains and dairy. Bread, pasta, rice, maize, etc. Went Paleo, Ketogenic, LCHF. 3 years now and perfect health. Grains are inflammatory and compress nerve endings. Especially lower back. Soooooo modified and evil for body. do 4 weeks without grains and you will thank me and be a happy lifelong runnerimage


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