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Confession of a Tweaker...

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  • Confession of a Tweaker...

    For full disclosure to the reader, I am currently a 6 month lifter and am not the guy to go to for lifting advice. However, for the last 15 years I have been all too familiar with back tweaks and the havoc they have on everyday life. Like most of you in a similar position, I tried to find answers and quick fixes on forums and YouTube videos. One of my guilty pleasures is coming across another lifter's post on a forum about back pain. It might be as simple as misery loves company, or the hope that this might be the one that will finally shed some secret insight on how to fix the horrors of back tweaks.

    Monday, while squatting, I tweaked my back for the third time since starting my LP. Luckily, I have a garage gym and no one but my wife saw me laid out on the floor. Lying there in pain, contemplating on how I was going to get to my bed, I decided that this was going to be the back tweak that didn't stop me from training. My wife had that look on her face, like OH SHIT, NOT AGAIN. Instead of making a two-person conga line and having her help me to bed, I stood up, wished her well with the rest of her work out, and hobbled my ass to bed.

    Lying in bed, trying not to move, I decided to watch the 19th and 20th episodes of the Barbell Medicine podcast and Alan Thrall's I HURT MY BACK! What do I do now. I had watched these before and I knew what advice was waiting for me. I knew because the last time I tweaked my back, I didn't take it. Shamefully to say, even after watching those episodes I went to the doctor, got the prescription for ibuprofen and a painkiller shot into my ass cheek, and told myself that I just could not risk re injuring myself and needed to rest.

    Having been here before and knowing this was an acute injury without red flag signs, that requires no imaging, I made up my mind to give the Docs' advice a honest chance. Every thirty minutes until I went to sleep that night, I got out of bed and walked up and down the hallway. I had to use a 5 foot long piece of PVC pipe as a duel handed cane, and every step I took sounded like Gandalf at the bridge of Kazan-dum. On my last trip down the hallway, I thought to myself that there was no way in hell I was going to work out on Wednesday.

    I woke up Tuesday dreading getting out of bed. I laid there until my bladder was now the worst of my problems. To my wonder I was able to get up unassisted. Let me tell you, every step hurt like hell and I had to brace myself on the bathroom counter to take the pressure off my back. You're probably thinking that sounds horrible, well it was. The thing is having been through this so many times before, day 2 of a tweak has always been to crawl to the bathroom combined with a Herculean effort to get on the toilet. What I had just experienced was a normal day 4 or 5 of just letting myself rest in bed.

    I spent the rest of the day doing sets of 5 box squats on my couch and using the PVC pipe to imitate the deadlift every hour. I decided to push myself and ran some errands because the pain was tolerable. The best advice I ever got from a chiropractor was to use your weight lifting belt when you drive. The only downside is that you look ridiculous when you get out of the car.

    Wednesday came and I actually got out of bed pain free. Normally I like to work out before work since I work nights, but I decided to give myself as much time moving around before I attempted to touch a barbell. I have never felt so much joy squatting or pulling 135 as I did that night. I had accomplished what I thought would be impossible.

    People talk about the character it takes to get under a heavy load but don't talk nearly enough about the character it takes getting back under any load 2 days after it ground your ass into the ground. If not being able to train is not enough motivation to push yourself when the inevitable tweak rears it's ugly head, know that 2 days of uncomfortable air squats and unloaded deadlifts can keep you from crawling to the toilet to take a piss in the morning.
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