It was the third day in a row doing deadlifts. Not smart.
I had around 405 lbs. on the bar, nothing to fret about (my max back then was around 515 lbs).
I walked up to the bar, pulled it, and right when I got to my mid-shins I felt an excruciating pain in my lower back.
I dropped the bar immediately and lay on the floor.
It was all my fault. My training program didn’t make any sense. I just did whatever I wanted, which led to a nasty low back injury.
The next 6 months post-injury were painful, stressful, and very frustrating.
I lost 20 lbs. of muscle. I couldn’t lift. Everything hurt, even doing bench presses.
I tried acupuncture. I tried chiropractors. I tried rehab. I tried EVERYTHING you can think of, and nothing worked.
I went to the “best” spine doctor in my country, full of hope. I waited for two hours to see him.
I walked into a room with my MRIs. He came in and after 5 minutes of looking at the MRIs, he said:
“Your injury doesn’t require surgery. There’s nothing I can do for you. My advice is for you to stop lifting forever and come back in two months to see if you qualify for surgery.”
What a damn assh#le.
I cried. I love lifting. I was running a gym back then, and couldn’t imagine a life without lifting.
One day, I stumbled upon a back rehab program created by a powerlifter named Bill Starr.
I followed it and after three months I was back in the gym, lifting with zero pain.
Today, I’m going to tell you exactly how to get rid of low-back pain, and I’ll outline the exact program I used.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not a medical professional and this method has not undergone any medical studies. What you will read next is based on my own experience. Follow this program at your own risk.
Things You Will Need to Get Rid of Low Back Pain and Build a Back of Steel
What’s cool about this program?
You don’t need fancy tools, you don’t need expensive electrode machines, you don’t need people your cracking bones, and you don’t need fancy doctors.
You will get rid of your low back pain with TWO exercises. That’s it!
But let me warn you, this will not be an easy program. You will get sore. You will get tired. You’ll feel like quitting at times. It’s part of it. Deal with the discomfort.
IMPORTANT: You need to learn to differentiate between sore muscles and sharp pain. Your lower back will get sore from the exercises. But if at any point you feel sharp, stabbing pain, then you must stop whatever you’re doing.
The progression will be slow, and you will start with no weight at all.
Here’s a list of things you’ll need:
1- PVC pipe or broomstick.
2- Inversion bed, or inversion boots.
The Two Exercises You Need to Get Rid of Low Back Pain
The thing that surprised about this program is its simplicity.
Just two exercises and an inversion bed is all you need to heal your lower back, and get it stronger than ever.
Here are the two exercises:
Exercise #1: The Rounded Back Good Morning
The first exercise is a rounded back good morning.
Bear with me here.
I know you might be cringing at the word “rounded,” but I urge to give this a try. It will feel like someone is splashing holy water on your lower back.
How will you do this good morning?
Here’s a checklist:
1- Stand with your feet a little closer than shoulder-width apart.
2- Your toes will be pointed slightly inward.
3- Bend the knees slightly and don’t move them.
4- Without dropping your hips, lean your upper body forward and try to touch your thighs with your chest.
5- Round your lower back at the bottom. Don’t let your hips drop lower.
6- Come up slowly and place the weight on your toes.
Here’s a video that explains it:
Honestly, I’m not sure about the exact mechanism with which this exercise helps your lower back. All I know is that it relieved the pain and it made my back feel AMAZING.
Exercise #2: The Halting Deadlift
I can almost hear you thinking:
WTF! Deadlifts to fix your low back pain?
Yep. But again, you will start with no weight and a lot of reps, and you might be surprised by how tired you can get without using any weight.
This exercise will give you one hell of a burn.
Your back will burn, your legs will burn, and you’ll be VERY sore the next day.
How will you do the halting deadlift?
Here’s a checklist:
1- Stand with your feet under your shoulders, using your conventional deadlift stance.
2- Start with the broomstick (or PVC) at the top of your shoes, then pull it to the top of your knees, and then go back down to the top of your shoes.
3- Keep a flat back the whole time.
4- Repeat as many times as prescribed.
Here’s a video that explains it:
The Rehabilitation Program.
While you rehab your lower back, you can still train your upper body. Just make sure that none of the exercises you’re doing aggravate the pain.
If benching hurts, then don’t bench. If curling hurts, then don’t curl. Only do exercises that cause ZERO pain.
Also, don’t perform overloading training. Train ONLY to maintain your current levels of muscularity.
Your number one priority is to get rid of the pain and heal your lower back, and get back into lifting normally asap.
The more resources your body uses to recover other body parts, the fewer resources your body will allocate to recover your back. Keep training your upper body to maintain your current levels of muscle, but don’t do overloading training.
Here’s the program:
NOTE: This program is created for someone with certain levels of strength. If you have a low back injury and have never lifted weights in your life, then the progressions shown here might be too fast for you. Feel free to stay longer at each stage to make sure your back recovers properly.
Nutrition To Recover from Injuries
When you get hurt you shouldn’t diet for fat loss or muscle gain.
Firstly, if you diet for fat loss you will be depriving your body of the nutrients it requires to heal your injury, and you will hinder and extend your recovery process. No bueno.
Secondly, if you get injured your number one priority should be to recover from that injury. To gain muscle you need hard training, which will pull resources and nutrients that could be used to recover your injury toward building muscle and will extend the recovery process. Plus, if you’re hurt you will not be able to train properly, which will end up in unwanted fat gain.
What to do instead?
Eat enough calories to maintain your current bodyweight and levels of muscularity.
Here’s how to divide the calories into macros:
- Protein: 1.2 grams per pound of bodyweight.
- Fats: 0.3 grams per pound of bodyweight.
- Carbs: Rest of the calories.
Make sure you’re eating plenty of fruits, veggies, lean meats, healthy fats, and whole grain carbs.
If you follow these nutrition guidelines you will nourish your body to promote recovery.
How to Continue Your Lifting Journey Post Rehab Program
By the end of the rehab program, you’ll be feeling a lot better and eager to continue your lifting career.
Well, I’m gonna have to stop you right there.
Preventing this from happening again should be your top priority.
You can’t neglect your lower back again because you’ll only get hurt. Again. And you don’t want that.
What’s the best way to avoid injuries?
Well, the easiest way to protect your joints and your spine is to build more muscle. The more muscle you carry, the smaller the chances of getting hurt again.
My advice to you is to focus for at least one year solely on building muscle and improving your body composition (more muscle, less fat). That means that you will do dedicated muscle gain phases, fat loss phases, and maintenance phases.
The more muscle you carry, the better protected your joints and your spine will be, and the healthier you will age.
I hurt my back three times, and the last time I couldn’t even walk without pain. It was very frustrating.
Since then, I’ve dedicated two years solely to building muscle and improving my body composition. My back feels better than ever, and I am stronger than ever. I can squat, I can deadlift, and I can do almost ANYTHING without pain.
After finishing your rehab program, building muscle should be your top priority.