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Deep scars

I'm living with the deep scars of reckless youth. It is difficult to write this. At 20 years old, I found that with great determination and effort, I could deadlift 300 pounds. This continued on twice a week, year after year.

When I felt a thoracic disc rip, I assumed my muscle had been strained. When I herniated L5-S1, I believed my muscles were once again at fault, so I took on more exercises to strengthen my core.

The tipping point came while moving furniture, and then I learned the terrible truth. Now I live with the guilt, the questioning, and a kind of PTSD toward heavy lifting. I imagine how the scenario might have played out differently, but I don't think there are any alternate universes where I turn away from entering the gym or decide not to test my own limits.

To be honest, I find some solace in knowing I'm not the only one. There is an epidemic of extreme fitness. I see this reflected in articles about marathon runners who are damaging their hearts. The FDA can't work fast enough to ban new detrimental supplements. Who knows how many young men are drinking tainted breast milk, upsetting their hormonal balance, or ravaging their livers.

Hello to everyone on these forums. Thank you for reading and for writing about your own experiences.


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,832
    edited 06/22/2015 - 5:20 PM
    I think many of us have some deep scars from our past.

    If we could have taken that back, do it somewhat differently, or handle a personal situation better

    The deep scars are many times emotional. Those scars cN be much deeper than any physical things we have had to endure.

    The important thing is that we bounce back. We learn from our mistakes

    If I only did this and didn't do that. If I was a better kinder person to ABC. Heck my list of those are longer than my list of surgeries and physical problems.

    It doesn't matter what or how you feel about A-Rod. He committed a crime and paid a price. I just don't think how much of a price that will include in the future.

    But watching him this year it is easy to see he is not dwelling about the past. He plays with a new life, someone that was given a second chance.

    That really. Could be all of us. BMAN. Many thanks for creating this thread. It has or can have so much meaning to all of us!
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 1,802
    BMAN, I personally think that every person who can trace their existence in chronic pain world to one event does have a form of PTSD. I mean yes there are many things I wish i did different , college early on, etc etc, but they did not have a huge lasting effect on my life that was not manageable. Outside of that I can trace all my health issues to two single, very quick moments in my life and for these I will deal with them, sort of manageable at times and unmanageable others , for the rest of my life. When I think of those moments and the loss, pain and suffering they cause so many years later I just would like to ball up in fetal position. I have heard PTSD from physc before ,but refused to beleive it as I associate it with war veterans. When my dr said similar things I began to take notice and try to get the help I needed for those scars along with still looking for help with the physical. I am better mentally than I was a year ago, some of that has to do with understanding my condition now and realizing I am lucky to not have permanently loss use of my arms, some has to do with some improvements allowing me to get back to gym, and much of it has to do with addressing these PTSD like symptoms some created by the life changing injuries and some created by doctors who told me everything was in my head. Its still a work in progress , but I am not crying daily so that alone is a good thing. I dont think its worse or better if you gradually lost your health or instantly lost it from an event (tipping point as you put it) , I just think it has different impact mentally. Those scars are at our core now and its about trying to heal. Good luck to you in your healing, wish it was easier for us all.
    Do your due dilegence, trust you know your body and question everything if it does not fit. Advocate for yourself and you will be suprised what will be revealed trusting your body and instinct.
  • I recently registered with one of the most popular bodybuilding forums (if not THE most popular) so I could tell my cautionary tale to a few injured weight lifters. It's surprising how many people on the forum's Exercise Injury thread are complaining about back pain. I just want to shout at them, "STOP doing what is giving you pain! And while you're at it, STOP loading your spine with hundreds of pounds!" God bless!

    I'm venting.

    It's an impossible mission. Too many treat working out like a religion. Heck, I'd love myself to squat a heavy barbell, try a 250-pound sumo deadlift, or just work calves to exhaustion on a standing machine. Turn up the MP3 player, put in the earphones, and get the adrenaline going. It's a train wreck. So, what advice have I seen? How about:

    --"See a doctor." This seems like good advice, but there is no guarantee this will stop the self-defeating behavior.

    --"Work on your form." Again. Seems good, but there is no agreement on good form. It can help, but form still won't stop physics from squashing your discs.

    --"Work out related muscles. Strengthen your core." Then feel confident you can have another go at your high-risk exercise that could send you to the ER this time.

    The problem is pervasive, and because it can take years for spine damage to accumulate, there are plenty of heavy lifting devotees to help the fitness and supplement machine churn up sludge before it spits them out its back end. Someone who tries to buck this trend is mocked online. The most dangerous exercises (or exercises that 90% of people do dangerously) are praised for their healthful benefits.

    All right. Rant over for now. Expect more weight lifters incoming.
  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 1,802
    It's like anything else the amount that don't get hurt in spine seriously outweigh the ones that do so not taken as serious,. I've seen studies of those true body builders and drs were saying their bones had formed a harder exterior and the discs were actually in better shape considering weight they lifted vs some sedentary job. I never lifted all the real heavy stuff when I was normal but form has to factor in on contributing to the injury. I read that I think Ronnie Coleman suffered a bad back injury but I think he came back from it.
    What worries me is that crossfit , the form is so neglected there . The chiro I used to see said business is up strictly on crossfit injury. But is give anything to be someone with that strong passion vs the predicament I'm in so can't say I blame them , hopefully they take heed and make adjustments.
    Look at that old Chicago Bears team with refrigerator perry and McMahon , they lived in the glory but now are a shell
    Do your due dilegence, trust you know your body and question everything if it does not fit. Advocate for yourself and you will be suprised what will be revealed trusting your body and instinct.
  • EnglishGirlEEnglishGirl Posts: 1,825
    edited 07/10/2015 - 1:28 PM
    I wish I had film of my physical therapist doing his lecture. I was there when a marathon runner came in. When asked why he ran he replied "For health!", my PT hit the roof! "Say it's vanity. Say it's addiction but don't try to tell me you're destroying your body for HEALTH!". That's when he gets out his little models of the human spine!

    We live in an era of extreme exercise. Extreme everything! Little girls are starving themselves to death because actresses & models have taught them that an anorexic size 0 is fat! It's a strange, strange world. I had a vent recently at a poor body builder on these forums. Even if just 1 person listens you could be making a difference. When all of this started for me I was given a list of restrictions, running, jumping, lifting etc. the usual for severe herniations from DDD. My husband (Ex marathon guy! Ugh!) will be sedenrtry for months & STILL throw himself back into exercise when body image hits him! He lives with me!! It's soooo hard to tell people. I wouldn't wish this pain on anyone! Is it really worth it?

    My husband promises he's taking it slow this time. A couple of years of piriformis syndrome & a glimpse of what pain is really like has hopefully taught him a lesson. Fingers crossed! Exercise can be an addiction of sorts & dealing with addicts is notoriously hard!
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Betty65BBetty65 FloridaPosts: 83
    When I was in my teens I did the Jane Fonda aerobics (barefoot). Then throughout my twenties and thirties I tried so hard to keep up with keeping "fit" by dieting and adding more exercise. In my forties I went to a local cross-fit type gym where I ripped a shoulder muscle the first time I tried to do a pull up. (surgery followed)

    Some of my friends in their 50's are running half marathons, full marathons, and working out like mad. I am envious of them because I've lost a lot of my fitness because of my back problems. But strangely, in another way, I'm glad I'm happy with myself now and not trying to maintain the appearance of a 25 year old.

    I do want to continue to stay healthy and fit but it's a struggle as many of you know. My PM doc says walking is NOT a good exercise for me, but it's something I enjoy. Swimming is better but it is so much easier just to put on shoes and walk out the front door. Oh well.

    I'm glad I found this thread because exercise (and my inability to do it like I used to) has been heavy on my mind lately.

    Thanks all.
  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 1,802
    The thing is realistically no kid should play football but it's something loved and worshipped that can wreck havoc on a body. We are looking from our injured lives but we all wouldl love to be back trying to be healthy and feel good about ourselves than this. I wish I could do all the stuff I used to and never once said I don't miss it. It's life but for many people it's such a passion that they can't stop
    Do your due dilegence, trust you know your body and question everything if it does not fit. Advocate for yourself and you will be suprised what will be revealed trusting your body and instinct.
  • I posted the message below to the BodyBuilding site forum, and I'm inviting feedback from you experienced and knowledgeable people. Those folks could really use your help.

    I might do this more often in order to provide more accurate info to others. You might consider it a waste of time, and maybe it is, but if I can help alter the life course of one person who would not have to live a life in pain...that's good enough for me.


    Hooray! Here is a thread where I can provide extremely valuable input because my spine is a disaster.

    When people worry about back pain, they are usually concerned about damage to their spine. The most common spine injury is damage to the cartilage in the spine (discs between vertebrae). These discs are made of avascular tissue, which means they have a poor ability to heal and do not provide the kind of pain/soreness stimulus that warns us of bodily damage. (Just imagine--they are shock absorbers. Could you imagine feeling pain every time your discs absorbed some shock for you? You'd be in constant pain.)

    With that said, we ask the wrong question when we wonder if pain or soreness will warn us about back injury. I cracked a thoracic disc, and it wasn't sore and didn't hurt at all. It was a subtle tearing sensation. On the other hand, I had a massive L5-S1 herniation that felt like an explosion in my lumbar that took my breath away and nearly dropped me to my knees.

    If you are truly curious how the spine operates, look into disc micro tears. These are small traumas that occur to the discs over time. They silently accumulate, setting the stage for a herniation. The herniation stage isn't a warning, it is a full-blown injury that at it's worst can lead to paralysis and chronic pain. Calling it an "injury" almost seems like an understatement because spinal degeneration can be so life-altering.

    So...no...if you pick up something your discs aren't going to come flying out of your back. BUT if you lift something heavy (which is probably lighter than you think) enough times the tears will accumulate and really screw you over. As I type this, my lower body is burning from deadlift-induced sciatica that feels like nails being raked down my thighs.
  • I would never make a body building physiqe
    As an endomorph,iban big..and fluffy
    But i got tremendously strong.
    1350 lef press
    900 lb calf raises
    650 working shrugs

    Then i had my accident
    Doc said my musculature had saved me,from terrible injuries.
    I believe in strength training for having had an acid test.
    That said,idid train some folks thatbwanted too much too soon,and blew themselves up in the process
    Time and cognition build the heart
    Which gives the courage to the mind
    Which tells the body to push beyond and grow.
    I am,3 stone
    I look like 250 lbs
    Everything in moderation and persistence
    I hope the future iron atheletes the best.
    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod

    Welcome to Spine-Health

  • You are the fly in the ointment, Ranchhand. I've been telling people not to lift any more than their body weight. I hate our discs for making us play this guessing game. They are lousy engineering. I'd rather be in a quadruped species incapable of lifting.

    I've read studies on the force applied to discs during lifting. Who knows when the microtrauma starts? (I guarantee it's lighter than the heavy deadlifters have in mind.) The problem is "excessive mechanical stress." What's "excessive"? Well, it's the point "where the structure exhibits a decreasing level of resistance for the first time before reaching its ultimate load-carrying capacity." What is the ultimate load-carrying capacity? My last unholy flare-up was at 150 pounds, and I now know I could never have handled 300 pounds injury-free. My mind was very capable, but the body is weak. In fact, I could have done 50 reps of 300 pounds if I wanted to. (So, God has created a machine that can reach its ultimate load-carrying capacity and then continue operating as if nothing has happened.)
  • Ibwas caught up in wanting to be like the Dorian Yates. Ronnie Coleman,Nasser El Sonbaty..RIP.
    or me.
    I was into a new stage of using my own body weight for strict form,reps
    Reverse dips,150 dumbell press,up to 200
    I was afraid to use that much weight on the,bench because,of some defect that my left arm would fail and,it all falls down.
    Weak upper body..relatively
    Gifted legs.
    High reps,did nothing..abbsolute waste of time
    So,i followed my natural course.
    Like,i said strong,not big
    And it was all peaches and cream until my accident.
    It all ended
    I am not bitter
    I do miss the mind over matter game
    I carry that with me,for,all time.
    A strong body
    A strong mind
    A stronger will

    Ide seen kids destroy tnier bodys with roids
    Instead,of hard work,they took shortcuts
    Wrecked joints,boobs(sorry mods) and other maladies.
    I am an advocate for strength training
    If i am,a,fly in the ointment,i cant find an apology for what worked for me,and saved,me from further mental and physical anguish,
    My support structure was superb..
    Enough thateven under superficial fluff,i can still show some musculature

    If there is one,word i could use
    I feel if for the right reason my body was needed to perform some,vital task
    I could..once.
    It comes down to what price i am willing to pay.
    I sit here with my nethers in pain
    My thoracic area,aflame and,my neck burning
    My right knee in pain from,sciatica
    My right arm/wrist in pain and my thumb..numb
    I wont go on about my feet prickling or my lurching. Walk..Lol..yrs i laugh at,myself
    But as i can remember all the,past glories
    I balance with the pain of now,
    My last pain free,day
    I had done reverse,bench,dips for,reps,with 45 plates in my lap
    I remember..Power
    I remember..Pain

    Your right about bodyweight training
    But i was right about my training as well

    I hope,all spineys find strength

    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod

    Welcome to Spine-Health

  • Hooray! I think I've finally found someone reputable to help me champion my cause. You wouldn't believe the number of weightlifters who insist you only hurt yourself when you lift with improper form. They also insist you should rehab to get back where you were. This could be a great resource for helping the next person on the forum who says, "I hurt myself weightlifting, and I'm looking for help in getting back to exercising."

    Here is a quote from Bill DeSimone's book "Congruent Exercise." (Where was he when I needed him.)

    "The consequence of mis-loading the discs may not be immediate; it may just accelerate long term wear. You may voluntarily try to keep your back tight during a squat, deadlift, (etc.), you may appear as if you are, but the weight is definitely trying to bend your spine forward. Since you can’t see into the spine, you don’t really know if each of the deep muscles is holding the vertabra in place; they may not be, creating the impingement/herniation, just not yet at a noticeable level. You may squat/deadlift/etc. for years, then tie your shoes and “throw your back out”."
  • "The consequence of mis-loading the discs may not be immediate; it may just accelerate long term wear. You may voluntarily try to keep your back tight during a squat, deadlift, (etc.), you may appear as if you are, but the weight is definitely trying to bend your spine forward. Since you can’t see into the spine, you don’t really know if each of the deep muscles is holding the vertabra in place; they may not be, creating the impingement/herniation, just not yet at a noticeable level. You may squat/deadlift/etc. for years, then tie your shoes and “throw your back out".
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