Lifting advice

GargGarg Purveyor of Lincoln Nightmares Icrontian
edited November 2008 in Fitness
All this talk of fitness has got me back into the gym.

My old workout habits: use weight machines for 15-20 min or so, get on an elliptical for 30 minutes, and then use the weight machines another 15-20.
There was no method to it, I just did it that way because it was convenient. I never got superb results, but I was certainly in better shape than I am now after doing nothing for a couple of months.

I'm open to using free weights and any advice on cardio/lifting mixing (I've been reading that discussion in Magic's thread). The main question I have is what sort of lifting can I do that won't put strain on my lower back? I've got a minor back condition that cannot be toyed with. I've been told to avoid vertical compression of the spine, so things that keep me mostly horizontal (like bench press) are fine, and things I do while vertical I should probably keep to low weight.

I know nobody here is a chiropractor, I'd just like some food for thought since I'm not really familiar with free weight technique. I've just been keeping myself busy at the gym thinking that it's better than nothing. What's even better than better than nothing?


  • GHoosdumGHoosdum Icrontian
    edited September 2008
    If you strengthen your core muscles does it alleviate the back condition somewhat? How much weight can you generally lift in a vertical position before compression becomes an issue?
  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited September 2008
    The biggest cause of lower back injury or pain is weak musculature. The weakest muscles in people's bodies tend to be spinal erector muscles such as the trapezius, erector spinae and serratus posterior inferior. As a general rule, the day-to-day actions of a person simply do not activate these muscles for much more than is required of standing upright. Clearly that is not a lot.

    I would talk with your physician, but I do not believe squats and other vertically-compressing exercises are outright. Clearly I do not know the nature of the problem, but unless you have some sort of pinched nerve, torn ligament or spinal disc problem, start at 55lbs (bar + 2x5 pound plates) and go from there.
  • GargGarg Purveyor of Lincoln Nightmares Icrontian
    edited September 2008
    Thanks guys. I think I'll go to a physician and make sure the problem hasn't worsened before doing anything too fancy with free weights. I have heard before that strengthening the back muscles can actually prevent further injury and increase comfort, so when I get the OK from a doc, I'll start in on it.

    After I get the okay, I'll post a list of exercises for my new routine for peer review :thumbsup:
    GHoosdum wrote:
    How much weight can you generally lift in a vertical position before compression becomes an issue?

    Not sure. I figure if I hear something snap I'm doing it wrong ;)
  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited September 2008
    One thing that you can do in the meantime are hyperextensions. They're fantastic for increasing the strength of lower back muscles and do not vertically compress the spine. Depending on the nature of the injury, supination of the anterior portion of the spinal column will result in some lower back compression, but it won't be on the entirety of the discs.
  • NomadNomad A Small Piece of Hell Icrontian
    edited September 2008
    Be sure to talk a doctor familiar with your back troubles before committing to anything, but ask for a referral to a physician that specializes in rehabilitation and sports therapy. Whatever happened to your back may be more treatable than you think through some simple exercises.
  • ChipChip Dallas Member
    edited November 2008
    You're off to get fit and you didn't email me? I'm hurt :(

    There are so many different ways to lift that actually decompress the spine.

    For instance, most people do bicep curls standing (pretty tough on the back) or on a curl bench (better). But try taking a bench over to a high pulley machine. Connect a flat, short bar to the high cable pulley. Lay on the bench on your back and pull the bar to you, bicep curl style. Not only does it decompress the back, but you can't cheat.

    Doing chest flies on a decline (kinda upside down) can also decompress your back.

    I also gotta agree with GHoosdum. Gradually build your core. Since it's a sensitive area, you'll have to see what works. I personally like medicine ball work and giant inflatable ball work.

    For lower back pain I also swear by spinal decompression therapy administered by a chiropractor and a dang good mattress.

  • LawnMMLawnMM Colorado
    edited November 2008
    I'll mirror what some of the others have already said. Try for a referral to somebody with a degree in sports medicine or that specializes in physical therapy. Doctors are great but most are pretty ignorant when it comes to bodybuilding, weight lifting, and fitness in general.

    I went to mine for an illness near the end of a bulking cycle and he was concerned about my weight gain. I tried to point out I had put on about 15lbs with no need to let my belt out and he didn't seem to clue in on what I was saying. So I just shut up and told him I'd work on it. :rolleyes:

    Talk to somebody in the know and you might be able to do a lot to help your back condition with the right lifting. You can also look into buying a belt for squats and deadlifts to help stabilize your core and take a little pressure of your back.
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