Running with back injuries - anyone else? (Read 1002 times)

A Saucy Wench

    I threw out my back changing my son's diaper.   That was a fun time.  I was home alone with him and couldnt pick him up off the floor.


    Make sure you find a PT who specializes in backs.  Because as you said, causes can be different. 


    One of the things I was told was to NOT do crunches.  Planks yes.  Back extensions yes.  Crunches absolutely not, no way, no how.  I was put on a regimen of NO forward bending including sitting for 3 weeks.   Any time I HAD to forward bend - like to drive my kids to school, I had to add a set of 10 backbends to counter it. 


    I wasnt cleared for active forward bending (i.e. crunches or other ab exercises) for several months.

    I have become Death, the destroyer of electronic gadgets


    "When I got too tired to run anymore I just pretended I wasnt tired and kept running anyway" - dd, age 7


      I herniated L3-L4 - was a complete nightmare. i feel your pain! Anyway i tried everything to avoid surgery and was lucky to avoid it. Two things that helped me - 1) Book - Back Rx by Vijay Vad and 2) Yoga - hot yoga - 2-3x a week - I did it religiously for 3-4 months with a qualified instructor - it worked really well for me.  Everyone is different though. Good luck.


        Running actually helped me find a back issue I wasn't aware of - a pinched nerve in my lower back that didn't hurt unless I ran. I was able to go to a chiropractor and go through a few months of rehab and now running is much more enjoyable.

        A slow-moving phoenix...

          I am currently struggling to resume running again after a spate of back injuries and surgery but it's not my back that's the problem now - it's completely pain-free for the first time for 10 years - it's the calf fatigue caused by S1 nerve root damage from the original disc herniation!


          I had a bad episode of sciatica down the right leg in August 2010 following an ill-advised leap onto an inflatable in a swimming pool. Ended up with a steriod epidural to numb the pain. I'd had this same procedure in 2007 and it sorted me out; I got back to running and ended up fitter than I'd ever been in my life at 43, cycling 26 miles a day on my commute to work, doing triathlons and playing football every Saturday. Unfortunately that all had to stop abruptly following the swimming pool incident! Cry


          When the steriod epidural wore off I was pain-free again but I had a numbness in the right foot and slight loss of sensation in the calf and thigh. When I started a gentle jog a few months later I noticed I seemed to be 'dropping down' on the right side and I mentioned it to a physio who did some tests and said it looked like my S1 nerve root had been damaged by the disc bulge and I ought to see a neurosurgeon, which I did. After more tests and scans I had a microdiscectomy and decompression of the L5/S1 disc (Feb 2011). The numbness didn't go away but started to improve a bit after a few months. But 8 months later I was really struggling with my back again and another MRI scan showed the L5/S1 disc had 'completely collapsed' and needed to be removed. So I had a lumbar fusion (Nov 2011) with the L5/S1 and L4/L5 discs being taken out. The numbness in my right leg and foot was almost unbearable after the operation; it was like having a block of ice strapped to my foot and it often kept me awake at night. The surgeon explained that he had to disturb the nerves a bit and there was scar tissue round them following the last disc surgery, so yes it would be very numb for a few weeks but would improve.


          3 months on from the lumbar fusion surgery and the numbness has improved a lot; however there is no guarantee that it will clear up completely - depends on the extent of the original nerve damage, he said. I may only get 50% or 75% of the nerve function back. It's most frustrating because it means I can only run a short distance before my calf just gives up completely. I ran 2k on a treamill yesterday and today I am limping around.


          On the plus side, the lumbar fusion has COMPLETELY cured my back pain and it is as if I have a new back! Big grin I get a bit of general lumbar stiffness in the early morning and late at night but no pain as such, and it wears off after a short while of moving about. It's absolutely marvellous. I am back cycling to work again and feel great.


          However whether that nerve root recovers sufficiently to let me run the 5k and 10k distances I used to do regularly, only time will tell.


          I wish I had seen this neurosurgeon earlier instead of an orthopaedic surgeon, as if I had, I would have had the surgery before the nerve got damaged whilst the pain was being treated with the steriod epidural painkiller, and I would probably have made a full recovery by now. But there you go. "You pays yer money and you takes your chance."


          Oh, and I thoroughly recommend Pilates for core strengthening. If you can get to a good Pilates class at the gym, do it. It is absolutely vital to have that core in tip-top condition. But there are varying styles of Pilates teaching - if you don't feel like you have had a good workout at your Pilates class, try another one. Some are just way too gentle. You need to really feel the burn and to know you've been pushed hard!

          If life was really like a box of chocolates, mine would be over very quickly.

            I had surgery last May for a herniated disc at L5-S1.  My doctor told me it was critical to have it as I was experiencing shooting pain down my right leg with numbness and tingling in my foot. I was also having bladder issues which he said was a warning sign that there were no other options than surgery. The results were remarkable. The next day the pain was gone and my back felt completely back to normal.


             It was a miserable summer though,  not being able to run, golf, or really do anything besides walk. After 8 weeks, he cleared me to start using the eliptical again with no resistance, but nothing else. I was a pretty good "patient" for about six months. My doctor told me he knew the runner mentality, that "if you give them an inch, they'll take a mile." And that was really true with me. As soon as my doctor said it was okay to start back up, I was off and running. On a follow-up visit, he again showed me my MRI and told me I was at risk of herniating L4, and pointed out all of the areas with arthritis in my back. I signed up for a half marathon this May against his advice, and I have to admit that the training is causing me problems again. I'll be 60 this year so I try to keep everything in perspective, but I will not give up running.


            I agree that a strong core will help eliminate back problems, and I've been working on making mine stronger. I've also been more faithful about stretching out before and after a run. I'd like to find a good PT to help me keep everything working.


            It really sucks having back problems. Good luck and I hope you find something that works.

              A poster above mentioned 'hot yoga'.  From what I understand it's just yoga in a room that's heated to 104 deg.

              There's a yoga place near my house that just renovated their studio (or whatever you call them) and it looks really nice, also seems very popular as there are a lot of people going to the sessions.  They have an introductory special for new members  - 30 days of as many sessions as you can handle for $40.  Franchise is called Bikram Yoga. I might try it but I don't see myself as becoming a member as it seems really pricey.


                I have had two back surgeries and run probably three to four half's a year. Last surgery was a spinal fusion L5, my surgeon isn't thrilled with my running but says I would probably be much worse off if I didn't. I run for my sanity. there are worse things than physical pain. I won't say that I am not in pain, that would be a lie, but for me its worth it and you can do it. I stretch, walk as much as possible, I am in my mid fifties and probably run around twenty miles a week. I also ride my horses, hike and do strength training. What is really odd is, that the things that are supposed to be good for your back, like yoga, particular exercises are worse for me. I have a very hard time with doing a lot of bending, reaching etc. I do what I want. I am not saying that everyone should, I think its up to the individual to decide what they want to do and not do. It does help if you have a sympathetic doctor that runs !