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Lower Back Fun!

9:58:57 AM
Okay so this isn't actually an injury sustained on the rock, more of an anti injury! Wait, that makes little sense even to me.....

I was curious if anyone else has a lower back injury and finds climbing with it a little perplexing? Okay so thanks to an incident at work about four years ago (damn pesky performance aircraft!), I compressed three lower lumbar discs. This had all the horrible trimmings of a back injury, barely able to walk, sleep, sit for more than ten minutes sciatic pain worthy of serious pain killers and nine months before I would work at full capacity. According to the surgeon, my injuries would forever kill all the things that I loved to do. Motorbikes, CLIMBING (lets face it, itís the important one!), skating and bizarrely my archery. His treatment, explorative surgery and monthly Cortisone injections. My response, Jam it Doc! Thankfully a close friend of mine, who conveniently is Personal Trainer in Syd, said the same (the Jam it bit!). Then proceeded to hurt me allot to develop my core strength. Thanks Phil, but you suck.

This is where I get confused. Now the act of climbing would ask a lot of pretty much the entire body and one would think would be quite detrimental to the lower back or a pre-existing medical condition. What with all the wacky positions one finds themselves in on a climb, not to mention physical exertion in these wacky positions. It should not be good for a back injury. But, I'm finding that the more I climb, combined with my daily core strength exercises, if I don't climb once a week at least, I start getting really sore not to mention rather grumpy. The more I climb the less I feel any symptoms or discomfort. But by all accounts I should be experiencing the complete opposite.

Itís more of a curiosity than anything else. Iím just wondering if anyone has experienced the same or could even shed some physiological reasons for it (come on you medical types!)?


10:27:39 AM
My medical qualifications are only as patient.

My rooted back injury sounds quite similar to yours although no knives.

Firstly siatic pain is not a sign you are further damaging your back. You've already done that! Climbing offers traction at the same time as core strengthening. The more you hang on your arms the less compression in the spine.I have found it the past deadhanging and pull ups to be beneficial as well but as you know when the back hurts you don't feel like doing anything. Swiss ball exercises work similarly. Laying on the ball reduces compression while the right bits and pieces are strengthend.

At the same time some climbing can hurt my back, particuarly agressive heelhooking and egyptians.

"But, I'm finding that the more I climb, combined with my daily core strength exercises, if I don't climb once a week at least, I start getting really sore not to mention rather grumpy." I think you have hit the nail on the head here. Periods of chronic pain are a miserable experience. Keeping a momentum of activity is important.

Then there is opiates and vodka.

10:34:03 AM
Often disk compression injuries can feel much better if they are extended, this can be achieved by using
a pair of suspension boots and a hang rail, put the boots with hooks on them on your feet, then pull up to
the bar, invert and hook the boots to the bar.
They also make a type of table or rack that is stable to step onto and again fix the feet in position, then
release the clamps and swing the whole arrangement upside down.
I ran into a fellow who also had a similar injury in Thailand, and he would also suffer pain if not climbing
regularly, he put it down the lower lumbar being stretched out by hanging from his hands while climbing.
I hope this helps you understand the mechanics of your injury, and maybe find a solution when climbing
is not available as an option (ie winter bad weather etc)
Cheers and good luck with the healing process.... BP

10:53:24 AM
I get really bad lower back pain (from 10 years of nursing) and I also find that climbing helps. Surgery doesnít always work and if youíve found something that works for you Ė stick with it.

10:57:05 AM
Proof is in the pudding.

Climbing is one of the best things for back conditions because it requires relatively smooth, low impact movt with high levels of body tension. Quite unique in the exercise world.

Muscles are the effector organs your brain uses to move, stabilise, balance AND control pain (the heart is the effector organ the brain uses for pumping blood).

If the discs are below par the muscles have to be even better at their allotted jobs. It's why you feel less discomfort when you climb.

The vast majority of disc injuries are NOT catastrophic and don't require surgery. The discs largely remain intact albeit under undue pressure. Short of unrelenting shooting pain or worse loss of movement due to nerve compression (rare) in most cases damaged discs will settle over weeks/months. If in the meantime the muscles are allowed to atrophy it'll be 1. longer recovery/relapse 2. worse over the coming years. The discs will settle but never 'cure' so caution.

The cause of most low back conditions and relapsing conditions is NOT too much exercise, they are almost exclusively due to inactive/sedentry lifestyles.

Motorbikes aren't a good idea but archery bad for backs? That's new. This particular surgeon needs some updating.

11:02:31 AM
I have had a bad back all my life both lower (worn vertebrae/bulging disc) and upper (the result of a bad MTB accident and four broken vertebrae T2-T5).

Through climbing, and its associated core workout I now only get pain after a long day and bending over chopping food, etc.

Yet another reason why climbing is great.

11:09:16 AM
On 21/07/2008 dougal wrote:
>Motorbikes aren't a good idea but archery bad for backs? That's new.

Back pain is a bugga.

On a m/bike it can help to take some weight on the feet over the bumpy road bits.

In archery it depends on the draw strength of the bow and the shooting style. Lighter draw strength bows are easier to draw back and require less twisting motion of shoulders/back, due being an easier push-pull arm action. Heavier bows (hunting weights, rather than target type), can place a lot of stress on lower back when the classic 1/4 stance for drawing is used. Snap shooting in the field often does not lend itself to the more target oriented style of side on (more rigid) stance.

From posts above it sounds like the logic of climbing for sore backs would also apply to bungy jumping?
11:10:49 AM
Similar experience here. Have twice injured my lower back in the past year or so - one a mild 'twinge' that left me sore for a few days, unable to bend, and the other one more major, unable to bend over, affected my walking.

In both cases despite some people thinking it was silly I went to my usual gym session and was very surprised to find that climbing relieved the injury and, short of being unable to do anything involving a high step-up, my climbing was barely affected - counter intuitive.

Kinda reminded me of a wheelchair victim who is a great swimmer - I was a sorry state walking up the stairs, but once tied on everything looked OK again.

Eduardo Slabofvic
12:00:22 PM
As with most of the above posts, my back pain results from an old accident (Imbedding my motorcycle
into the side of a car). Pain comes and goes from one day to the next, but generally the climbing does
not make it worse. Swimming has been the best treatment, and learning to love core training (Although,
I'm still to do this last part).

12:06:32 PM
Thanks for replying so quickly. I just wanted to clarify a couple of things (and not ina grumpy way!). Surgery was never an option for me. It seems the first point of action for any condition that confuses defence medical staff. It's good for compensation payouts, but that in my experience thatís the only benefit. Although doctor I had was against anything invasive, the surgeon I think needed to justify his over paid existance. The sciatic pain, I know to have been caused by the inflammation of the muscle around the prolapsed discs applying pressure on the S1 nerve. I know it was just a crappy symptom of the injury. Mostly non existant now thanks any higher power that want's to claim it!

It's funny that the medical professionals I have encountered along my journey of injury and rehabilitation, have all become seemingly pale when I mention the rock climbing. Warning me against such an activity. But here I find out that it is in fact, in some way at lest, beneficial. It honestly hadn't occured to me that climbing was a form of traction. It explains alot, and convienently give me a fantastic reason to climb. Said reaching down to grab my CB and boots, 'Sorry boss, I cant. I have to head to Physio!'

Thanks guys.

12:33:33 PM
I too have back problems and have found climbing to be really good. I'm no doctor but I think your less likely to hurt yourself when doing something on purpose as oppsed to doing something without thinking as you engage your muscles more. As for motorbikes I ride one every day and agree with standing a little over the bumps and keeping good posture. Besides there's not much good for your back in driving a car! I bought a good book recomended to me by a physio, Fix you own back by Robin.A Mckenzie, it's not really technical but I think it's good. Check out or spine universe too.
12:37:06 PM
At my age many people have bad backs but I can't think of anything much better to prevent or improve
back issues than climbing. A friend has a worse back than mine from years as a builder. Climbing is
almost always a good thing for him but during a period of soreness the other week he was trying a high
quite tough throw to the R (on Family Feud at Araps). That got him - he could hardly get out of the tent
the next morning.

12:49:08 PM
Add me to the list. Over the last 4 or 5 years, every time ive had an injury that has stopped me climbing for more than about 6 weeks (4 times of the top of my head), ive ended up with back problems.

I twigged on this last year, and just kept climbing through a recent broken finger. I probably looked a bit stupid climbing with one finger daintily pokeing out to the side, but touch wood the back is holding together.

Adding fitball exercises to my routine in the last years also seems to have helped me.

There are 13 messages in this topic.


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