Two Saturdays ago, I was bending down to put something into my freezer when a severe pain shot through my lower back.
In the words of Forrest Gump, it felt like something jumped up and bit me.
I knew what it was right away. Every one to two years my lower back goes into spasm. It’s been happening for at least 20 years. That was long before I started strength training.
I don’t even have to be lifting anything. Simply bending down will trigger it.
It’s probably due to one of the discs deciding to go AWOL and then engaging in a dust-up with the nearest nerve root.
The muscle police immediately get involved, and everyone is told to cool it for a time.
Debilitating Back Spasms
If you’re prone to back spasms, you know what it’s like.
You’re momentarily paralyzed. After a minute or so, you can make it to a couch or a bed where you remain for hours until the initial pain goes away.
Then you see if you can walk.
If you can, you measure your steps very carefully.
Every step you take can initiate an agonizing shock of pain radiating throughout your lower back and doubling you over.
Even though you can walk a little, you intuitively know that you’ll be out of commission for at least a few days if not a whole week.
Because of the severe initial pain, I thought I wouldn’t be able to train for at least a week, maybe longer.
A Surprisingly Quick Recovery
That night it was difficult to sleep. Every time I turned, I would experience some pain.
I spent Sunday basically glued to my living room sofa. Surprisingly, by the evening, I was feeling about 80% better.
On Monday morning because I was feeling so much better I considered training later in the afternoon.
By 5:00 pm, I was ready to bench press.
I experienced a little muscle soreness but not a lot.
Thankfully, it was a deload week so I didn’t have to really exert myself.
After bench, I did three sets of dumbbell rows. I had no back pain at all.
After my workout, there was no pain or spasms. My back felt fine.
This was the fastest I had ever healed from a back spasm.
And, get this, I never took any medication for the pain. Because my back was getting progressively better as the hours passed, I didn’t need anything.
By Wednesday, I was able to squat with no soreness at all.
Now, that was amazing. On Saturday and Sunday, I was literally immobile, but on Wednesday, I was back to doing barbell squats pain-free.
Why Was I Able To Get Back To Lifting So Quickly?
I believe the reason I was able to recover so quickly was due to the strength training I had done over the years.
The muscles in my lower back were strong enough to stabilize my spine and limit the irritation on the nerve.
With some ice therapy, the disc went back to its rightful place, and things were back to normal rather quickly.
Am I Crazy To Lift Weights At My Age?
There are people who tell me that I’m crazy for lifting heavy weights at my age (60).
I respond by asking, “What’s the alternative?”
Should I not train and instead allow my body to “slowly dwindle into an atrophic puddle of sick fat”?
Should I allow my muscles to waste away and subject myself to a potential fall that could make me prisoner to a wheelchair?
Remember, if you’re a couch potato, you can lose as much as 3% to 5% of muscle mass each decade after age 30.
Do the math. By the time you reach 70, you could lose 20% of your muscle.
For me, the choice is an obvious one.
How do you see it?
See my current strength training workout here.
See how I started training here.
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