Anvil or Hammer

So far

Posted in Uncategorized by Mike on May 30, 2008

So, how’m I doing?

Physically, good, well, pretty good. The last few days I have awoken with little pain in the morning. I have debated whether I should or should not go for the ibuprofen (I take 2 four times a day). I always did just to stay on a schedule and because I had to sit at work all day. Yesterday I actually awoke with no pain, for the first time in months. At work I am doing decent. I take ice packs and rotate them 30 – 45 minutes on then the same off. It manages the discomfort. I’m sitting on the couch but it a semi reclined position most evenings. It’s not “normal” but it beats lying on my side on the floor like I was for weeks.

When I first heard the suggestion that it was a herniated disc I pretty much dismissed it. I figured “I’ll let her do the MRI and we won’t find the disc but maybe we’ll find some other problem we can fix.” Boy was I wrong. Then when I saw what was clearly a herniated disc on my MRI I was really disappointed, depressed really.

For the last 48 hours I have been googling every combination of herniated disc I could think of. There were a lot of people who made it sound like they checked out of life after that. That was depressing me further and kind of ticking me off. I’ve come too far to just go and quit. I’ve always said that living life was more important that training but, what I haven’t said is, some training was also important in living my life. The idea of not being able to move my own furniture or carry a suitcase is an awful one.

I did get a couple pick-me-ups though. First, talking to my PT, someone who has seen her fair share of ruptured discs, seemed to feel that with some patience and time, I should not feel like I can’t enjoy life quite a bit. She also indicated that there is still a piriformis issue that we will work on. That’s ok by me, gives me something to do to feel like I am actively working on it.

I also came across an article on Dragondoor that I found relevant. Brian Copeland an RKC had two herniated lumbar discs and through stretching and kettlebells is back to full steam. He’s a personal trainer in the Denver area. I emailed him to see if he had any thoughts on the topic, given his experience. He got back to me in a matter of a couple hours and has been really helpful.

Your best approach is to:

  1. Find a Z Health certified person, preferably a Level 4 or Master level person and have them work on you.
  2. Buy the R Phase DVD and manual off of my website if you don’t have a Z person near you. There is a link on the left sidebar if you scroll down.
  3. Practice your Z Health with the intention of “not moving into pain or startle reflex” to reeducate the nervous system
  4. Practice your kettlebells in the exact same way.
  5. Do Windmills, Get ups, swings, deadlifts, perhaps even working to imperfect round back deadlifts with very light weights to start. All of these must NOT send a pain signal. If they do then make the range of motion smaller and move slower. You will reeducate your nervous system not to send a pain signal.
  6. I have written in the past about some stretches to do. The stretches are fine but remember that you must not feel pain from them. You must not get overly tight. Think a mild stretch.
  7. Us guys have a hard time with this concept, deal with it as it is your best bet for a quick recovery. How quick? I have seen pain go away from litterally one repetition of a Z Health movement and I have also seen it take a little while. I have done this with my clients who have back pain and they couldn’t touch their toes and a few windmills done in this fashion and they are touching the ground with their knuckles.

Brian Copeland, RKC

I thought and thought and obsessed and obsessed. My poor wife has been a good sport the last 48 hours as I have had little else on my mind and she’s heard more permutations of what I could or should do. I settled on a few things and I’m still thinking about other things.

  • Strongman – over. Let’s face it, the weights involved were stupid and begging for an injury. I mean 800lb yoke walk, no thanks. I can’t say I’ll miss it a lot either. I liked some of the odd objects and stones but I could leave the super heavy stuff and be just fine.
  • Powerlifting – over. At some point I may add some squats and deads back in but those are the highest risk maneuvers I can do with a herniated disc so when I add them back, they need to be done with sensitivity and not with an emphasis on highest weight possible. When they are added back there will be rules. Currently I’m thinking bodyweight or maybe 300lbs eventually, but rules, whatever they end up being.
  • Sandbags – These will take a break but they’ll come back eventually in small pieces.
  • Kettlebells – These, I think, will be my primary modis operandi in the future, but it’s gonna be a little bit before I start in on them again.

I still have a doctor’s appointment this coming Tuesday that will be very telling but from what my PT has said, this doc favors the nonaggressive/noninvasive approach which is exactly what I would like to see. As I mentioned, I’m still under going PT for the piriformis business but it seems to be improving, I’ve had probably 5 “good” days in a row, I’m just trying to not change the momentum right now. I’ve got a couple other emails out to people Jim Bathurst regarding bodyweight training and Mike Yuhaniak about Z Health training.

I still have a lot of info to gather in the coming weeks. Training will be cardio, stretching and recovery. 

9 Responses to 'So far'

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  1. Scott Styles said,

    Mike, you have access to some of the best doctors and medical care in the world. This is a routine problem in their field. Alternative health solutions and anecdotes on the internet are not your starting point. Your medical team is. Don’t lose sight of that.

    Look at the injuries elite powerlifters bounce back from. This is something you will learn to manage and train around. Trying to decide what you need to write off forever does nothing for you. Work with your medical team to create a plan for the next 1-3 months and make it happen. They have the knowledge. Your job is to integrate their expertise into a successful program.

  2. Karianne said,

    Dear Mike,

    I so agree with what Scott just wrote you !!!

    < Karianne

  3. Mike said,

    wow, I must have done a shockingly poor job of conveying my intentions. I apologize for that.

    I have a doctors appointment on Tuesday, that’s my next biggest milestone. I had PT twice this week, I have it twice next week and then on for however long from there. I’m doing my prescribed stretches and everything is vetted through them. Well, through my PT primarily so far, as I’ve spent about 5 minutes with the doc. But, I’m not getting off the western medicine train anytime soon.

    That said, we (all the lifter guys) have talked many times about how the medical community stops short. They don’t deal with “healthy” people trying to progress beyond that. I’ll take the medical professionals advice for as long as they will give it but it will end at some point.

    At that point I have to choose what I do. Until then it’s all just talkie talkie. To me, bodyweight training in the next couple months seems like a reasonable progression, if not something that would be prescribed. I have a couple exercises now and they are, in fact, bodyweight. I could do 1,000 words on the question marks in my head about Z health but that’s not a reason to not ask about it. Personally I suspect the guy will come back trying to charge me $100/hr and that’ll be the end of it. Kettlebells seem like a reasonable transition after that.

    I guess I’m a little surprised by the strong response. I’m probably missing something.

  4. Scott Styles said,

    I got the impression you were looking on the internet towards Z-health or fitness professionals as a primary treatment option for the problem, probably because of Brian’s email. Sounds like I was wrong, which explains the disconnect. Sorry about that. You likely have a lot of the same questions and concerns about Z-health as I do. I didn’t think much of the DVDs I saw.

    Your PT may be willing to provide ongoing evaluation of approved and contra-indicated strength training exercises, even after your official therapy is over. The guy I saw offered it and followed through when I asked.

    I think starting with bodyweight and kettlebell stuff is a good idea, but it also comes down to how you exercise. Moderate weight front squats might be easier on the back than aggresive burpees or 30 minutes on the Concept II, for instance. Most imporant in the near term could be choosing a training modality where you can moderate the desire to put in maximum effort.

  5. No. 6 said,


    Your naivete regarding the injury and the entire concept of recovery and not trying to ‘force things’ is really apparent.

    Scott’s right. And I know that you will still go to the doctor on Tuesday, and continue with physical therapy, but you *have to* deal with the arc of injury and treatment. And I know that you know better, too, than to use solely anecdotes off the internet–even from those who are injured and have recovered. I know that there’s a lot on your brain regarding all the possibilities of what your recovery arc may look like, and I know that you are trying to keep your options open. However, that REALLY means that you have to take your time, and not force anything–even your options. Take it from someone who’s been there, and done that.

    Or not.

  6. Karianne said,

    Dear Mike,

    I am sorry if I shocked you. I cannot imagine how frustrated you are right now about having to go through all of this..

    Please keep us posted on what you decide to to do. We want only the best for you.

    < Karianne

  7. Chris Rice said,

    You might consider calling and talking to Louie Simmions of Westside – I know he has experience dealing with such injuries. Email me and I’ll give you his number if you want it.

  8. Rob said,

    Recently scared myself whilst doing atlas stones. Has really given me a wake up call to say I’m not invincible (anymore), so will have to take it steady for a while. Also, has anyone got the Z Health course? I’ve been checking it out recently. SOunds really good but still not made the decision to get it yet.


  9. Mike said,


    Thanks. I have taken some time away to heal and recover. Hopefully, it’s time to get back at it. It won’t be exactly the same ever but that’s not such a bad thing. It should still be a lot of fun though.

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