Bad back

Suffering with back pain at the mo. Got worse after training, but don't think it was the running that caused the intial injury. Apparently it's due to herniated degenerative discs. Got bad muscle spasms, so it's pretty painful and I'm on anti-inflammatories and anti-spasmodics. Seen the physio and have strengthening exercises to do before I'm allowed to run again. Got a place in the FLM2006, but I guess that's out now. Just wondering if anyone else has had a similar problem and how long I can expect to be out of action.


  • Very highly variable.

    Some of the star runners on the forums have back problems.

    Something like Pilates is of tremendous value, particularly since all the little muscles that are there more for feedback than for strength or movement tend to pack up and go home following back pain. They need to be re-educated.

    Probably it will be more fun to defer to FLM 2007 than do less than your best this year and fret about it, although there is no need to make a decision about that for a while.

    Just don't give up, right?
  • (((trude)))

    I'm recovering from a back injury at the moment (caused initially by lifting then exacerbated by running when not quite better). I asked both my physio and my GP about recovery times. Unhelpfully, the answer from both was "anything from 2 weeks to several months".

    Just as well I didn't get in to flm2006! I agree with Stickless - defer and have a good, injury-free FLM2007.

  • trude, if you have degenerative disc(s) then it is not likely that it will just go away with a bit of rest or a few exercises.
    You really should look at including some regular core strengthening & lower back exercises into your routine.

    I second the pilates, after recently having a micro-discectomy for herniated / degenerative discs, it has been invaluable.

    I was also on diazepam (sp?)& anti-inflammatories for back spasms, and has so far taken me a number of months (and counting) to get running fitness back. (I was doing mara distance before op.)

    Your recovery though is personal to you, i know someone who had a similar prob & was back to fitness in half the time it has taken me, peoples bodies react differently.

    I certainly would not rush into any decision about FLM 06, just try and keep your fitness up doing something (even if its not running) and don't put any pressure on yourself to be fit by a 'must race' date.

    Don't underestimate the value of your core exercises! Keep fit & you will be back running mara's in no time! Good luck. :-)
  • Thanks for the replies. Saw the physio again today and it seems that it will be a long careful road to recovery. She's given me some pilates type exercises to do, but at the moment it's too painful and in too much spasm to do anything more than that. The threat of a steroid injection has given me the motivation to be disciplined with doing them - even though I am doped up with diazepam! Think deferring the FLM until 2007 will be a good idea :-( Pilates definately sounds like the way forward, and hopefully it'll enable me to get back to the training within a couple of months (she says optimistically).
  • trude,

    have a look at this site. email me if you need any advice regarding its content.

  • Thanks Chris. Interesting site. It fits in well with the problems I'm having as it's the muscle spasticity that's causing the pain. I've also got the associated disc & nerve involvement which is giving me leg numbness and tingling. Some of the exercises described on the site are similar to those given by my physio, so will persevere and hope it eases up soon (it's been a week now). I'm also going to try deep relaxation as the brain is a very powerful tool in healing the body.
    Unfortunately I'm still having the problem that I can't be mobile for more than about half an hour before the spasms get so bad that I can barely walk. I had a look at back supports today but I'm not sure how much benefit they actually give. Any ideas??
  • The worst time I had I was bed ridden for a week, and about 6 weeks before I could walk reasonably comfortably for short distances.

    That was before I got hold of good anti-inflammatories, which make a huge difference to recovery times.

    But there is a lot that can be done in terms of making day-to day living more comfortable, and thereby delaying the return of spasms.

    I did a lot of reading lying on the bed with the book on the floor. Scheduling regular half hour flat times before you feel desperate helps.

    I still don't sit in conventional chairs unless I have to: Pilates ball at the computer, typing chair or rocker at the dinner table, kneeling chair at my desk.

    I don't stand still either. If I must wait in a queue, I keep moving, doing exercises.

    I spent a very useful 45 minutes getting physio instruction in a pool. The first couple of years I did those exercises three times a week - they helped enormously. Moved on from them to Pilates, which as long as I don't do anything too stupid is sufficient to keep the back in good shape.

    You sound like it is still early days yet. Hope you can see some progress soon.

  • Hi stickless. Thanks for the advice. I like your idea of using different types of chairs as I think that's been part of the problem that's aggravated my current problem - I'm doing a masters degree at the mo and have been spending hours hunched over a computer with bad posture, and having to sit through 6 hours of lectures twice a week on rubbish chairs! However, I think my tutors and colleagues would give me an odd look if I turned up to lectures with a pilates ball !! As you can imagine trying to study is extremely difficult at the moment, which is slightly worrying as I have 2 essays, a professional portfolio and a presentation due in after christmas. Eek.

    Re the anti-inflammatories I'm on regular diclofenac, which is pretty good but not good for long term use due to gastric irritation. I've also been taking diazepam (valium) for the spasms, but I try and limit it as it sends me to sleep within half an hour of taking it. It's tricky trying to find the balance of medication vs exercise vs rest. As you say it's early days but I'm trying focus on doing the various exercises and getting enough relaxation to ease the spasms. Boy, it's frustrating though. Bang goes my ideas of a new year windsurf and using my 'study leave' to get some extra marathon training in :-(
  • Trude,
    The movements on the somatics site, and those used in teaching Hanna Somatic Education are not in any way unique. They are basic natural human movemnts, when people habituate to say hunching over a desk muscles habituate to that posture, tighten and then move vertbrae and impinge on nerves etc etc etc.

    The movements given by your physio can be "exercises" to make you stronger by pulling harder, further for more repetitions or in a somatic manner which is education "an experience"

    "if you know what you are doing you can do what you want" - moshe feldenkrais

    so do movements slowly noticing tightness, jerkiness of movement.

    Lie on the floor, a firm surface and notice are your shoulder blades touching the same amount, what about your pelvis, thighs, calves, feet etc etc etc

    often you are given strethening exercise but , if one side is tight it is due to one thing.

    The brain!

    Muscles are just contractile units. They contract varying amounts, and unless paralised have some level of tone at all times.

    What controls the muscles - the brain. If you severed the spinal cord which links muscle and organs to the brain what happens?

    so involve the brain, anything you do can be somatic, sitting, walking, running etc etc

    One thing that strikes me is the way many runners just run without sensing,

    "Why am i making so much noise when my foot strikes? [if they were barefoot, they could run fast but not pound as the modern footwear softens this force, but the body still receives the forces]

    just become aware of your self, do the movements slowly.

    all the best chris
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