How to CrossFit while recovering from injury?
May 21, 2010 4:40 PM Subscribe
I love CrossFit, but I'm recovering from a lower back injury (herniated disc + sciatica). How can I stay active and strong without making my back worse?
posted by buckaroo_benzai to health & fitness (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've been going to a really great CrossFit gym for the past 3 months. I *LOVE* it. Unfortunately, 5 weeks ago I had a relapse of left-leg sciatica associated with a herniated disc that I got from being rear-ended on the interstate 6 months ago. The pain returned a day after I went rock climbing.
Mostly I have generalized pain going down my leg that is sometimes accompanied by a sharp pain near my left pyriformis muscle. I haven't really had any pain directly in my lower back since a week or two after the accident.
I read many previous threads here about sciatica and lower back pain. I got a good lumbar support for my office chair. I take stretching and flexing breaks at work. I sit up straight and tall. I got the book "Treat Your Own Back" by McKenzie. I'm going to physical therapy twice a week (though I don't think it's doing much). It all seems to be helping...
BUT. Every time I go to the gym, even though I'm "taking it easy" (by CrossFit standards), the pain in my leg flares up and moves down my leg the next day. If I lay off the gym for a few days, I feel like I'm making progress since the pain subsides a lot (not totally but maybe 50%). Then I go back, and have pain again. I've even tried eliminating the exercises that I know will aggravate my lower back like kettlebell swings and dead lifts. It doesn't seem to matter.
So my question is:
What exercises and cardio can I do that will help me stay in shape, but NOT impede the healing process of my lower back? What has your experience been with this type of injury?
I love to go road cycling, but I heard that's bad. I don't like to run, but I hear it's bad anyway. I heard swimming can be good, but I don't have access to a pool (I could see if the local YMCA has one and join that, I guess). Other than that, I can't think of a way to get my heartrate up and burn calories. Help!!!
(I already asked my doctor and physical therapist, and they both pretty much think CrossFit is nuts to begin with. They "strongly recommend" that I don't do any exercise, but I get the feeling that's because they don't want to make the effort to work with me and so it's a cop-out. Plus everything else I've read says that not exercising at all can actually be bad since your muscles, tendons, scar tissue etc can get locked up.)