Public service announcement

It seems I need to clear something up. I got a comment recently from an acquaintance that went something like this:

I can’t believe you’re WEIGHTLIFTING again, after you were in the HOSPITAL! Are you CRAZY?

I paused (probably not long enough to gather myself so that I wouldn’t sound like I was being rude I’m afraid) and replied: “I’m not powerlifting. I’m not that stupid.”

But I realize that to someone who doesn’t know what powerlifting is, let alone the difference in that and what I’m doing now, that was a meaningless response. I also realize that if one person thinks that, and is concerned about my safety and (evidently mental stability), there are probably others  as well.

So if I can get on my high horse for a minute, I’ll try to explain.

My injury came from excessively loading my lumbar spine. That was too heavy squats too often, and too heavy deadlifts too often. I listened to and trusted someone I shouldn’t have, and didn’t pay enough attention to my body’s own warning signs, and I went too far.

The orders from my orthopaedic physician are to never load my lumbar spine again. That mostly means no more powerlifting (no squats or deadlifts) but there are other exercises that could trigger a recurrence as well. That does not even come close to meaning: Dana, you can never pick up a dumbbell again.

I’m working with a new trainer, an experienced lifter who’s been doing this for some 20 years and I have full confidence in his knowledge. And he respects (and helps enforce) my limitations. I’m also backing off any time and every time I feel like what I’m doing is somehow wrong for me. That means I stopped my Krav Maga lessons. My physician and spine surgeon both know what I’m doing, and I have clearance from both of them. The pain has returned, but neither of them think it is related to my activity. Two points on that:

The most important thing a person can do to prevent recurrent back injuries is to build or keep a strong core and back. Also,  staying lean and flexible are important factors.  Lying around atrophying as I age will result in a brittle, injury-prone spine.

Secondly, I’ll repeat something from yesterday’s post.

Recurrent herniated discs are not thought to be directly related to a patient’s activity, and probably have more to do with the fact that within some disc spaces there are multiple fragments of disc that can come out at a later date …  the hole in the disc space where the disc herniation occurs (annulotomy) probably never closes because the disc itself does not have a blood supply. Without a blood supply, the area does not heal or scar over. – Microdiscectomy Spine Surgery: Risks, Complications, and Success Rates

That second part is a fancy way of saying sh*t happens. The pain has returned. But it was probably going to return whether I lounged around all day eating macarons or whether I went back to a life with physical activity.

So. I’m not crazy. I’m trying to take care of myself. It’s a tricky, scary new slope I’m on, and I’m in a constant battle to know and to do what is best, while keeping myself in the best physical condition I can. I’m relying on experts, and listening to my body. I promise people, I’m not crazy.


7 thoughts on “Public service announcement

  1. All I want to say is: go you for continuing to lift weights! No matter how much you loved powerlifting it had to be a little bit scary to go back to what hurt you in the first place. I say kudos to you for making sure that your injury didn’t stop you from doing what you know you have to so you can be healthy and fit. I think you’re an inspiration 🙂

  2. It sounds like you want keep your body limber and fit while still listening to it to make sure you don’t push yourself too hard. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me…

  3. Hey Dana,

    I recently read a book called: Beyond Brawn by Stuart McRobert.

    He is a professional powerlifter, and most of the book is on tips for training. However he also talks about how he destroyed his back pushing himself while doing deadlifts and was incapacitated for over a year.

    He wasn’t able to start lifting (and I’m talking powerlifting!) again until he tried Trigger Point Therapy. He swears by the healing powers that it had on him. Specifically he recommends the book – Myotheraphy: Bonnie Prudden’s Complete Guide to Pain-Free Living.

    I can’t say I’ve tried Trigger Point Therapy myself, but it might be something you want to look into 🙂

  4. Thanks for sharing what actually happened as the cause of your injury. I don’t remember if you specifically laid it out for us all before now. Either way, I have loved following along on your journey… Thanks for being real and continuing to be an inspiration to us all!

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