View Full Version : A train wreck

Steve Shafley
01-09-2007, 01:58 PM
Yesterday, I was warming up, using the circuit that Dan John stole from someone other than G.G.

Haloes+Goblet Squats+Windmills

Doing the windmills, I notice a tightness in my left lower back. It was tight through all three runs of the circuit.

I think the initial tightness was from painting my bathrooms, and from getting into unnatural and cramped positions to paint along some of the moldings and around the toilet. I am a evil genius with a paintbrush, much to my wife's delight, and my own chagrin.

I started doing a thick bar deadlift/1H kb swing couplet, and, on the second set, I felt a bit of a twinge in my lower back.

Being older and wiser than I once was, I stopped doing that sort of stuff, and finished off with stuff that didn't involve me bending over.

Over a period of a few hours, my left lower back got sore and tight. So sore that it started to aggravate me when I stood or walked.

So, since one thing that's been drilled into me ever since I'd met physical therapist Matt Spiller (another Dan John friend, and who has an article about this very topic in one of early Get Up newsletters), is to do McKenzie press ups.

So I did.

Still things stiffened up, and I went to bed being quite stiff and with a low grade of pain.

I woke up, and my back felt slightly better, but I must have slept on my neck wrong, because my neck was stiff, on the left side (which is where it gets stiff...this is due to old rugby abuses) and my left knee was sore (once again, due to an old rugby injury, it's prone to soreness after exertion)

So, today, it's been:

Sore neck: performing self-myofascial release and hitting some seriously inflamed trigger points, some jumpstretch band traction work, and applying heat rubs.

Sore back: once again, sMFR with a tennis ball against the wall really reveals some nasty trigger points. My evil dog ate my foam roller. That, press ups, a hot shower, and some heat rub have significantly improved it over the course of a day. Also did some traction stretching with a jumpstretch band.

Sore knee: nothing to do but slap some DMSO on it and do DROM stuff for it.

I'm feeling better, but for about 6 hours today I felt like I'd gotten run over by a truck.

Ron Nelson
01-09-2007, 03:39 PM
What's a Mackenzie press up?

Mike ODonnell
01-09-2007, 05:19 PM
Double the ZMA, drink a Guinness and call me in the morning......Dr OD says

Steve Shafley
01-09-2007, 05:39 PM
Basically spinal extension:


http://www.1backpain.com/back_exercises.htm (scroll down to McKenzie back extension)

Matt Spiller's Get Up article


Ron Nelson
01-09-2007, 06:13 PM
Thanks. It's one of those movements I knew about, forgot about, and have heard it called a hundred different names.

I think I've read that Spiler article as well. Have to give it another look.

Good luck with the back.

Robb Wolf
01-10-2007, 02:20 PM
You've got to love a Scottish spinal rehab method! Put things into hyper extension. It will either pull any bulging disks back into place or send the bloke into such fits of agony they will operate immediately. Genius.

I hammered my back doing DL's after a week after I think 75 Jim Baker sit ups. My abs were still sore and just did not fire correctly. Still suffering the consequences 2 years later.

If you have an ART practitioner they can really work some magic in the acute phase. The Guinness sounds like a very good idea. I wonder if they will ever make a wheat free version...

Steve Shafley
01-10-2007, 05:28 PM
It's actually feeling quite good tonight, but was stiff this morning (third day of injury).

My regimen, every few hours was:

McKenzie spinal extensions (with towel under left hip)
-McK is from NZ, not Scotland, though, Herr Wolff.

Light JumpStretch band back traction was used:

(loop band around one knee, behind back, then around other knee while sitting down. Lay back and you can feel the band pulling your pelvis down. Push against your thighs with your hands to increase the traction even more)

The sequence:

-press ups
-knees to chest (with band still on)
-knees to left side (band on)
-knees to right side (band on)
-glute bridges (band on)
-press ups

This sequence loosened up the back nicely, and felt like it helped unload the area.

Then I'd take a tennis ball and massage the area while leaning against the wall. Very painful contact, so I'd start light and go deeper and harder as the discomfort eased.

Pretty sure this is a muscle pull, not a disk event.

James Evans
01-11-2007, 04:51 AM
That's a great exercise. I know it as a 'dorsal raise' from circuits I used to do based around a pretty good book based on Royal Marine training. Excellent counterpoint if you are obsessed with sit ups.

Very good for cyclists too. Don't cringe Robb. Perform a standard rep, then move your hands and torso to the left, repeat and then repeat on the right.

I might even show those links to my useless physio. Her remedy for lower back pain? Sit to stand. That will be sitting down and then standing up then.

I work in a ******* office. That's what I do all day.

When I told her that my back was uncomfortable during overhead squats she asked me to explain the exercise. So I did. I could see the horror in her eyes.


James Evans
01-11-2007, 04:56 AM
Oh, and for my current knee problems she has got me on the ham curls.

How I laughed when my knee started hurting in a totally different place.

The leg press was mentioned too but I told her to get stuffed.

She also, very probably correctly, linked the knee to my back problems of over a year ago. The back problems she supposedly cured with Office Desk Monkey Squats.

Steve Shafley
01-11-2007, 05:52 AM

I find that a knee flexion movement is useful for maintaining my knees in a relative pain-free state. I use a band for leg curls, though, and they are kind of a partial movement, due to the nature of the bands, and the limited equipment in my home gym.

I have also found that tractioning out the knees with a jumpstretch band seems to help provide some relief from the low-grade continual ache as well. Basically this is just looping a band around your ankle and stretching the band out until there is a significant amount of pull on your knee, then you slowly move and twist your knee. The JS band people (Dick Hartzell and company) insist that doing this improves blood flow and helps open up the joint space, albeit minutely, to provide relief. This works well for me, and it works especially well if I do it every day.

While you have the bands out, go ahead and try some TKE's with the band.


If one of your problems with your knees is a weak VMO, then TKEs are definitely one of the things that help solve that problem.

James Evans
01-11-2007, 06:19 AM
Cheers Steve,

I'll have a dabble with that.

Steve Shafley
01-11-2007, 06:42 AM
What I was getting at is that the hamstrings need to be stronger to help stabilize the knee. For those with tricky knees, they need to consider both of the hamstring actions...the hip extension (i.e RDL, OLs, etc) and the knee flexion for optimal knee function.

I think the wrong kind of leg curl machine is worse than doing anything, though, so I am right with you on that part.

James Evans
01-11-2007, 07:35 AM
I accept that point regarding ham strength and over the last couple of years have done a lot more work on the deadlift variations. This can be a real problem for cyclists who become quad dominant and ham tight.

Of course the dl work is hip centric and not flexion based. The RDL, for example, obviously doesn't hit the hams in the same way.

Am I right in thinking that working on the hams in this way is a 'movement not found in nature'? Ok, I'm fooling around a little with that but I've always thought that the leg curl machine wasn't really replicated by anything else. You can use a physio ball. You can drag a plate across the floor with your heel. You can use a band. But when do we use the hams like that naturally?

Obviously the big lifts mirror life to a degree (I'm not going to call them functional). Even the maligned bicep curl is a movement we mostly do every day. Perhaps I'm just being obtuse but this has puzzled me for quite a few years and I've only just thought to ask someone.

Steve Shafley
01-11-2007, 07:55 AM
I don't see why plate dragging with you heel, etc, won't do the trick.

That's an interesting point regarding the hamstrings, however, the muscle and the motion is there. I think during a sprint, the hamstring is engaged strongly and as both a knee flexor and hip extensor.

James Evans
01-11-2007, 08:06 AM
The plate drag is good.

That's a fair point about the sprints. I think I read something by Mike Boyle on the subject. There has always been a fixation on the hamstring being a flexor or an extensor when in fact they do both. Hence they get sore when you squat.

Trouble with having two arts degrees not science degrees, read a lot, don't understand or remember it all.

I gave some thought to the antagonistic relationship of the biceps and triceps recently when I notice soreness in my triceps from pullups. Didn't give it too much thought though. That could get dangerous.

Ron Nelson
01-11-2007, 10:43 AM
Here's a link to some of the traction work Steve referred to:

Dave Tate had an article, either on EFTS or T-Nation, about the traction work he did with his shoulders. Good advice if you suffer in that area as I often do (old dislocation injury tore the hell out of my right shoulder).