Deadlifting with L4 and L5 Bulging Discs.

I have bulging discs in my L4 L5 lumbar spine. Will I ever be able to deadlift again?

Yes you will. With time and the right frame of mind your back will be back to near normaI. I have bulging discs in my lower back and I’m deadlifting.

Here is my story: I damaged my back playing outfield in a game of softball. The year was 2010 and I was playing center field. In the bottom of the fifth inning, with a man on first, the batter hit a line drive right at me. It was well hit but I’ve seen a hit like this before. I knew if I timed it just right I could scoop it off the ground and make the play at second. As I was bending over to scoop up the ball I felt an unfamiliar sensation in my lower back. It wasn't pain but something I’ve never felt before. The feeling wasn’t debilitating so I decided to finish the game.

The next morning, I was temporarily paralyzed. My wife Joanna made me canes out of a pair of golf clubs so I can get around the house.

That morning began my journey to recovery. I saw many “experts”. The advice ranged from, taking 800 mg of ibuprofen a day for 30 days to surgery. The former was less scary than the later so I never opted for surgery. But the ibuprofen never worked either.

Over the years, my back would re-spasm and my spine would take the shape of a sideways question mark. Hiking one side of my pelvis up and causing severe pain and a limp. One day at home by myself, I suffered one of the most painful experiences to date. A lighting rod of nerve pain shooting down my right leg. The pain was so intense I drove myself to urgent care. I remember weeping in the waiting room as I waited for them to give me pain killers. The protocol is to not administer pain killers without designated driver. I now have peripheral neuropathy in that same leg.

It took seven years after my initial spinal injury, but my lower back finally healed. I now can go a full day very comfortably. Every now and then I get occasional tightness but nothing that keeps me from being active.

If you take anything away from this story, it is that it took about 7 years to recover from my injury. Your body wants to heal itself. Even if it takes 7 years. As long as you feed your body the correct building materials, keep moving and stretching, you will deadlift again.  



Regarding surgical intervention. A friend of mine did opt for surgery, but the surgery never fixed his back. Surgery requires many months of physical therapy but the physical therapy is often never carried out.

I have heard that back surgery is a 50/50 chance. If you are considering surgery, or it is being suggested to you, look for other alternatives. Often the piece of you the surgeon is going in to cut out is important and in your body for a reason.

David Shirley

CrossFit Upland is an Official CrossFit Gym in Upland California. Since 2014, CrossFit Upland has been guiding its members to find their fitness.