Back Pain Training

Movements for a pain-free life

My L5-S1 disc herniation story

If you’re reading this page, you may be going through some serious chronic suffering with your back, and desperately looking for a solution to stop the pain and go back to your normal life.

I’m writing this because I’ve been through that. In this post, I will describe the process I went through when my back went out on me due to a L5-S1 disc herniation a L4 L5 disc bulge.

I will tell you all the things I tried, what didn’t work (or even made it worse), what worked a little and gave me hope, and finally, how I recovered from my herniation life-hindering pain.

A familiar story : following weeks of discrete looming pain in my lower back and buttock, one day, while innocently stretching my left hamstring, my lower back snapped. I felt excrutiating pain in my lower back, buttock, and leg.

The pain did not go away and kept worsening, and I became unable to move, sit, stand or even lie down without much suffering.

Over the next days, I could not sleep at all due to the pain, and had to crawl on the floor to reach the bathroom. For the next 3 months, I was going to walk bent in half, supporting myself with my hands on my knees and dragging my feet so as to move my hips as little as possible.

After the first couple of weeks, my pain became chronic, with a consistent, excruciating shooting nerve pain in my buttock, behind my thigh and knee, along the calf and in my left foot which got numb.

THREE MONTHS OF INTENSE CHRONIC PAIN

I had an MRI and got diagnosed with a disc herniation L5-S1 plus a disc bulge L4-L5. Not only was the S1 nerve root pinched, but the MRI detected a narrow spinal canal (stenosis) which made things worse but reducing the space available for the nerve.

Throughout the dreadful 3 months that followed the snap, I tried A LOT of things in the hope of getting some relief and eventually recovering from my herniated disc. I saw many doctors, including a rheumatologist, a neurologist, a physiatrist, a trauma surgeon, and a chiropractor.

I was prescribed painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, neuroleptics, spinal injections, osteopathic manipulations. Nothing had any effect for more than a few hours, if at all.

Given my permanent forward bent position, the doctors told me my lower spine had lost its natural curve. One doctor even even claimed I had an inversion in my spine’s natural curve, a very serious condition.

(In reality, my bent in half position was simply a result of my body working around the pain, but I only found that out after the pain from the L5-S1 herniation started receding)

For the first 10 days or so, I lied down on my right side on a hard couch, trying to move as little as possible not to stir up the pain, with my legs laid out in the least possible painful position – although certainly not pain-free.

A few weeks after the snap, the pain somewhat reconfigured itself. Sitting with my back slouched became the least painful position for short periods of time – which came as a blessing since it allowed me to scrape by a little bit of work on my laptop.

I was still unable to walk or even stand except in that bent-in-half, hands-on-knee position. Even 3 months after my disc slipped, the max amount of time I could stay upright was 10 seconds (stopwatch). After that I had to revert back to supporting myself with my hands on my knees.

Searching the web day after day, I learned about L5-S1 disc herniation, L4 L5 disc bulge, sciatica, and other similar painful conditions, as well as treatments and drugs. And of course, lots of terrifying horror stories.

I read that in many cases, invalidating sciatica pain starts receding within 6 to 8 weeks, when the slow process of recovering from disc herniation begins. In my case, however, it had already been 2 full months and the pain in my lower back, buttock and leg showed no sign at all of relief.

The acute and permanent pain along my sciatica nerve kept me up at night, forcing me to sit up for long lapses of time, sometimes even trying to sleep in that position. My left foot was permanently numbed. Lying on my back or on my left side was just impossible.

I was really depressed and didn’t eat much. I lost 15 pounds and a lot of muscle mass. I couldn’t leave my house except to drag myself to the doctor’s once or twice a week. My work was reduced to a bare minimum, i.e. a few emails per day.

My prospects were bleak. I felt like I would not be able to walk normally ever again, and that the numbness in my foot and tingling in my calf were here to stay.

Sports had always been a major part of my life, being a passionate surfer, kitesurfer and stand up paddler. That was all history. A new, gloomy life had begun.

FIDDLING WITH MOVEMENTS

It had now been 3 months since my back had gone out with a L5-S1 herniated disc, a L4 L5 slipped disc, and a pinched sciatica nerve. I had gotten used to walking bent in half at the waist, supporting myself on my knees.

My upright standing time was still stalling at around 10 seconds before the pain forced me to bend again. A doctor acquaintance of mine said : “come on, this is ridiculous, 10 seconds after 3 months … Go get your surgery already.”

Yet I refused to get surgery.  My research showed that surgery (laminectomy, spinal fusion etc) for herniated discs is only recommended in case of nerve damage with leg weakness and/or bowel / bladder dysfunction.

That wasn’t my case, I “only” had constant, solid pain and some numbness in my left foot.  And again, the amount of time I could stand upright, my main progress metric, was not improving.

I kept reading about people’s experiences with sciatica nerve pain, and realized many people took to exercise as a way to get over disc herniation, particularly L5-S1. 

Yet I felt I was in no condition to perform any kind of movements, although the idea appealed to the sports guy I was.

I learned about the role of spinal decompression in herniated and bulged discs, and soon decided to get a pull-up bar to let my body hang and help spread my vertebrae away from each other. Giving my discs more breathing space might help them get back into place and away from the nerve.

The initial challenge for me was to stand up with my arms raised in order to grab the pull-up bar, not being able even to stand upright for more than a few seconds.

It was a painful process, but setting up the bar low enough allowed me to keep my feet on the floor for support, avoiding fully extending the spine – which I wasn’t able to do. In other words, I was able to remain bent at the waist while hanging.

I started doing this a few times a day, for a few seconds up to a minute. Soon I noticed my upright standing time started creeping up, reaching a few minutes after 2 weeks – this was about 3.5 months after the snap.

This filled me with new hope. Bolstered by these (tiny) results, I decided to research and experiment with more movements to help get over my L5-S1 herniated disc. I realized I was able to get down on all fours and remain in that position relatively painless.

From this position I tried several things, such as “cat and dog” stretches (too painful), kneeling planks (doable but hard), and diagonal arm and leg raises (OK at low speed and low frequency). I got a fitness ball and continued exploring similar exercises.

About 14 days after getting the pull-up bar, I was able to get out of my house to visit a friend, and sit at her place for a couple of hours. I still couldn’t stand up for long, but things were improving very slowly.

FROM RANDOM EXPERIMENTS TO TARGETED MOVEMENTS

I kept reading about maintaining good posture and strengthening core muscles to support the spine, reduce compression, and avoid pushing the discs backwards onto the sciatica nerve. I suspected this was key to recovering from my L5-S1 disc herniation.

That’s when I stumbled upon the 30 year-old McKenzie approach and decided to try it. I read the book and tried the exercises, whose primary purpose is to centralize the pain in the lower back as opposed to lower down in the buttock and leg.

The main exercise I tried was lying down in prone position (on my stomach) and progressively pushing my upper body up by extending my arms, thus extending the spine.

Lying on my stomach was extremely painful, let alone pushing myself up onto the elbows. I worked on it for a few days, but the pain in the buttock and leg was always there and left me to wonder if the exercise was appropriate in my case.

I guess It depends on the angle of your slipped disc and the direction in which the disc is pressing onto the nerve.

I also tried one of the flexion-based, spine bending exercises, sitting on a chair and bending to touch my feet. Although it didn’t trigger any sharp pain, it felt uncomfortable, like stretching the wrong way.

While I was experimenting with McKenzie, I got an email from Cris Mills, a surf trainer who runs an online surf stretching program and whom I had contacted for advice – nostalgic as I was about my surfing days. He suggested I check out a method called Foundation Training.

At first, the Foundation Training website looked like many others, claiming to offer a solution to chronic pain. I was skeptical at first.

Then I saw the dozens of comments on Amazon from users suffering from serious back issues – including herniated and bulged discs – who had had great luck with the program.

So I watched some of their free videos as well as a TEDx conference that explained the science behind the method. I also watched a demo of the basic Founder exercise and tried to follow along as best as I could.  

UPDATE : click here to learn the details about my experience with the method’s fundamental exercises.

The 2-minute exercise gave me a nice feeling and a subtle sense of relief. I kept doing it for a few days, and soon noticed my upright standing time was improving.

I took the plunge and bought the DVDs. The price was a hefty $70, but I was desperate, as the progress I’d made from my own exercise mix still seemed microscopic. 

The way things were going, I’d never again be able to run, jump, paddle, or exercise like before.

I’m a very patient and disciplined person when it comes to learning. I did the exercises step by step in the recommended way and order, without skipping around, for several weeks on end.

Soon after I started the program, I started noticing some results. I was soon able to stand upright longer and walk better. The pain started to “centralize” (in McKenzie terms, i.e. creep back up from the leg and butt to the lower back). 

I couldn’t believe my herniated L5-S1 was actually responding to these simple movements.  Again, I’ve described my experience in detail in this exhaustive personal review.

After about 6 weeks of doing the FT exercises, at a pace of 10 to 15 minutes per day, I felt strong enough to get on a surfboard and paddle out in flat water.

Fast forward 2 years : my back injury is history, I have fully recovered from my disc herniation, and I’m back to my sporty life, having resumed surfing, kitesurfing, and wave SUP. I can run, jump, work out, play, swim, paddle again.

All those things some doctors (and I) thought I’d never be able to do again.

I’m pain-free, and have Foundation Training to thank for it (the FT site has moved to a subscription-based model but you can still get the old DVDs on Amazon through this link if you prefer a one-time payment). 

The method has taught me to move correctly, fix my hip and shoulder imbalances, strengthen and engage my posterior muscle chain, and maintain good posture in all situations.

It’s not a one-time, miracle pill though. The exercises I learned have become a permanent part of the way I live, move, and train. I do them practically every day, either as warmup before a workout, as standalone abs / lower back workout, or during daily activities such as brushing my teeth.

I can honestly say Foundation Training saved my life.  In my next post, I’ll explain the principal exercises in more detail, and how they actually worked for me.

30 Comments

  1. I’ve stumbled on your site by accident and am finding it so comforting to read. Can I ask how many times a day you initially did your strengthening exercises?
    Thanks

    • Team BackPainTraining

      February 15, 2020 at 11:21 am

      Hi Judith, initially once a day, couldn’t do much more as I was still very stuck. Always did only the movements that did not cause any pain whatsoever, elimnating any movement that did (pain is NOT gain for these conditions)

  2. Thank you for your story and what incredible perseverance you have! I am curious about Foundation Training and will look into it. How long did it take for the numbness to go away. I am dealing with L5 S1 disc herniation for 2.5 months, which meant no sleep, couldn’t sit, meds which were limited in effectiveness, and was limited to what I could do and where I could go in addition to left calf and foot numbness. My physical therapist introduced me to the Mackenzie Method and it has saved my back and my life. Furthermore, my chiro recommended spinal decompression which also helped significantly and I am on the upswing. I will check out Foundation Training as the MRI showed there was some slight degeneration of l3 l4 and I will do whatever I can to keep my body up and hopefully avoid any future issues.
    Thank you for your story!

    • Team BackPainTraining

      February 16, 2020 at 9:31 pm

      Hi Jaimie, it took a while for the numbness to go away, even after I was finally able to stand and walk upright I still had some numbness left in my smaller toes. Don’t recall exactly but it may have been as much as 5 months after the disc slipped. To me it was a reminder I wasn’t completely recovered yet.
      I did try the Mackenzie method initially but I found the flexing part uncomfortable and scary for my situation. Foundation training primarily revolves around gentle spinal extension, you only start doing flexing exercises in the advanced stages (forward fold, windmill). Due the angle of my herniation flexing was bad and had to be avoided (as I found out through experience) so I stuck to FT. In your case though, it seems the Mackenzie approach worked well.
      Spinal decompression I think is always a good thing. Some people use a decompression chair, I just hang off a bar and it works great, I feel it reduces the risk of more issues occurring – as you know herniations don’t really go away but we can manage them really well by maintaining good postures and appropriate reinforcement and stretching.
      I would say FT can only do you good, it’s not one of those things that you feel *may* have helped, if you do it thoroughly you’ll have zero doubt about the benefits. It goes further than just strengthening your back, it teaches you how to live differently (how to sit, walk, pick up things, work out etc). It gives you very valuable knowledge about your body. Just my 2c.
      It sounds like the worst is behind you already, all you need now is good discipline for your exercising and a little patience, you’ll be back to normal in a few weeks. For me it’s already ancient history, though I now know what to do to avoid it repeating. Best of luck!

  3. Oh my goodness! thank you so much for posting this! I am 25 years old and I was a collegiate athlete who hurt my back kind of out of nowhere in November. Once the pain centralized, did the pain just go up and down? Mine started off as sciatica but after chiro was able to centralize to low back. Low back pain has gotten slightly better since going to chiro, but not fully gone and it can flare up in back and low buttocks but I was wondering if you saw it go up and down before fully healing…I just started foundation today, excited about it!!

    • Team BackPainTraining

      February 19, 2020 at 9:28 pm

      Hey Karah, that was 5 years ago now but I think I remember my pain started in chronic form in my left buttock, then when I had the disc slip it spread down the back of my thigh, calf, and foot (with some numbness). Weeks later, after I started doing FT, the pain slowly worked its way back up to the buttock, which was a good sign. It took a long time to disappear completely but I was able to go back to almost normal life even with some lingering pain the hip and some slight numbness left in my left toes. It’s now all gone for good though, mainly due to back strengthening, correct motion when bending forward, and good sitting posture – no slouching nor even resting my back on the chair, as I’m writing I’m sitting exactly like I would on a stool with nails sticking out in it haha. Yeah FT will save your life, you can bet on that, it has for hundreds of people! Hang in there!

  4. Hi , thank you so much for sharing your story and all the great educated tips! I am 33 years old male and I started weight lifting when I was 11 years old naturally and I was doing powerlifting and bodybuilding mix semi pro for about 5 years and I got a herniated disk 8mm about 4-5 years ago doing Romanian deadlift , after that my back was very stiff however not very painful and I was training very light until one day I walk a lot wearing flat shoes and sat for a long time and once I came to stand and walk I was in extreme pain I took some anti inflammatory and pain medications for about two weeks and It got better however the sciatica was still there , I took some time off and doing daily stuff did not hurt my back until I played basketball about 3 years ago and it really hurt my back to the point that I laid on the ground and couldn’t stand and the ambulance came and took me on a stretcher to the hospital , it’s been 3 years since and my back is much better however I’m starting to workout again and I’m trying to avoid workouts involving bending forward as much as possible like deadlifts , bent over rows , my question is doing shoulders presses or heavy over head loads will they impact the disk? It does not bother me as I am advanced and have muscle mass and good form however I’m always worried I am making it worst! I am starting to do core exercises as well.
    Sorry for the long message and I appreciate you taking the time to read.

    • Team BackPainTraining

      July 7, 2020 at 9:48 am

      Hey Kia, first a quick disclaimer, I’m NOT a doctor or fitness pro (like you) so I don’t know s*** about anatomy lol, everything I say here is ONLY my personal empirical experience. One thing I’ve learned since I got herniated discs is that I must do everything to decompress my spine and avoid compressing it. So I quit doing anything that involves heavy weight lifting in a standing or sitting position as that will naturally compress my spine. I’ve replaced all these exercises with decompressing ones, i.e. “pull” exercises, primarily all sorts of pull-up variation, as well as intense core strengthening (e.g. all sorts of planks) which I now do daily. And of course, Foundation Training which saves my life and keeps my back in shape so I can freely continue to surf, kitesurf, stand up paddle etc without limits.
      Again, that’s just me, not more heavy weights putting gravity on my spine – bench press is OK since I’m lying down, but I don’t do that anymore either, I now like body weight exercise and functional stuff a lot better. I also do other spine-compressing activities with caution (e.g. rope jumping, horseback riding, mountain biking) and try to avoid excessive and prolonged impact. It can be a bit limiting but for me, it just led me to other forms or sports so I’m good with that.
      HTH!

  5. So refreshing to hear that there may be alternative to surgery. I had an L4/L5 discectomy after a big herniation 4 years ago. I’ve just had an mri again and found out I’ve herniated the same disc the other side but it’s pressing down so have the buttock pain and all down my leg. I had an injection last week which isn’t helping much other than I’m getting a little more sleep but I’m 9 weeks since doing it and it’s really tough. I’ve ditched the gabapentin as I think I was losing my mind!!! Will start excercising again but the pain is rough at the moment. I was very active. A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner but at 45 thought I may have to quit. Hopefully things start to settle down or I may be back under the knife

    • Team BackPainTraining

      October 19, 2020 at 8:38 am

      I know how you feel, been there. Sounds like you have similar symptoms with buttock and leg pain. I also had a little bit of numbness in my left toes but no full loss of feeling and no “drop foot”, which made it possible to look for alternatives to surgery. If you haven’t yet, give Foundation Training a try for a couple of weeks, really worked wonders for me and helped change the way I sit and bend. It may be hard a first but if you’re anything like me you may see improvements relatively fast. I also ditched the neuro drugs early as they were driving me nuts – in my case I’m glad I did but some people with acute and lingering pain may badly need them.
      Not sure about Jiu-Jitsu and how much it flexes or extends your spine, but I was able to get back to surfing after a few months – still surf and kitesurf years later though I always make sure to stretch and strengthen my back and core. Hang in there!

    • This is such a relief to read this from a fellow kitesurfer!
      I’m an advanced kitesurfer (28yo) and had an injury while working on unhooked tricks 3 months ago. The pain wasn’t intense enough to go to the ER, but having sustained sports injuries many times I knew something wasn’t right — it was a strange local pinpoint of pain just to the right of my L4/5 spinous process, and would sometimes radiate as a dull ache across my lower back. Went to tons of doctors and they told me it was a facet joint inflammation and to keep kiting and surfing and just accept pain management, but that only made it incrementally more uncomfortable over the next month to the point where driving in the car for an hour would result in lower back pain. I eventually went to a sports therapist (www.thewellapproach.com) who started me on something like the FT method and I’m 5 weeks into it now and have been noticing ultra slow recovery and dreading the idea of not being able to return to kiting at the level I was.
      I’m curious, at what point did you go back to kitesurfing? Were you at zero nerve pain altogether? Fully rehabbed strength?

      • Team BackPainTraining

        October 25, 2020 at 10:23 am

        Hey Ben, I also went to many doctors and each of them had a different story which didn’t square at all with how I felt and how things were evolving for me. When I started FT I soon started noticing small improvements, as in being able to stand up for a few seconds. But it still took months before I could get back in the water. Off the top of my head I think I had my disc slip toward the end of August and I must probably didn’t get back in the water until February or March. So yeah it took a few months to feel strong enough (although I felt a lot better before that), and even so I wasn’t at zero pain and had to take it easy. Kitesurfing was better than surfing though thanks to the harness, surfing was a lot trickier.
        Note that I did the training on my own, perhaps if I’d had someone competent to guide me like you do the rehab would have been much quicker. Hang in there, it’s just a matter of a few more weeks. And You may have to take it easy on those unhooked tricks initially.

        • This is So helpful to hear from a fellow kitesurfer – I can’t even tell you how much! The whole recovery feels like yelling into an echo chamber since no PTs seem to agree on anything. I was wondering if I could ask you a few more kite-related questions for recovery? I’m trying to avoid re-injury but also get back on the water as soon as possible.
          – Are you 100% back to normal now after your recovery? can you kitesurf at the level you did before the injury or do you have to avoid certain tricks now?
          – when you went back to kitesurfing did you switch to a seat harness or stay with a waist harness?
          – When you were at the tail end of recovery, did you feel like every week was 2 steps forward, 1 step back? My last few weeks since i started restrengthening my legs feels like some days there’s zero nerve pain or sensitivity, but then i’ll bend sideways or twist and get a little zap at the injury location which will stay sensitive for a few days.
          – did you find kitesurfing conservatively was helpful for re-strengthening toward the end of your recovery? or did it feel like a re-injury risk? I’ve noticed that the nerve sensitivity in my lumbar subsides the most after loosening up the hams and some glute/core strengthening excercises. I know kitesurfing is great for strengthening those muscles, but my PT is saying hold off (seemingly forever) so I’m starting to think maybe he just doesn’t understand the mechanics of the sport.
          Thank you again so much

          • Team BackPainTraining

            November 3, 2020 at 10:06 pm

            Hey Ben,

            – Yes I consider I’m 100% back to normal, BUT I’ve completely retrained myself to always keep a good posture when sitting, bending, etc. I also do core strengthening on a permanent basis – not sure what would happen otherwise.
            – I didn’t switch to a seat harness as the waist harness actually made me feel better, perhaps because it helped pull my spine into extension.
            – Yes as I was recovering I definitely had some setbacks when I pushed my body a bit too far and too fast. When that happened I reverted back to the things that had proven to work well and I tried to be conservative. Slowly but surely. I definitely avoided anything that would potentially trigger that zap.
            – Yes mellow kiting did help me, I actually felt good in the water as the harness was pulling on my spine the right way. My doctor also told me to stop everything – and forever – but obviously he didn’t know s***. I think few people are really able to tell you what will work and what won’t for your specific condition. That said, you need to have a lot of common sense and really listen to your body. If I’ve had a good PT I may have listened to him/her, but I didn’t so I took my own chances, and stepped back when necessary. Also depends on your specific condition. I’m not a daredevil and didn’t want to risk going back to be stuck lying down for weeks. I took very small steps patiently. That approach worked for me, the inflammation healed over time and I helped it with movements that made me feel better – and eliminated anything that increased the pain. For this condition, I find that “no pain no gain” just doesn’t work!
            Hope you feel better fast, ride on ! (but hold off doing crazy tricks for now…)

  6. Wow yeah. That totally makes sense. It’s pretty crazy that this article you wrote is by far the most informative/helpful thing I’ve read after nearly 4 months, thousands of dollars and hours of youtube videos.

    For your specific injury did you find that lumbar extension generally made you feel good? Or did flexion feel better? I’ve always worn a soft waist harness but wondering if maybe a hardshell would give a bit of a locked in extension that would be helpful after all the posture improvement from PT.

    The strange thing with my injury was that my UCLA spine doctor wouldn’t even get me an MRI because the pain wasn’t severe enough (he said I just had facet joint inflammation, and pain management would just be my new normal). But the pain didn’t go away after 2 months the way any other injury would and I finally went to this great guy who is more of a rolfer/sports medicine than a PT (thewellapproach.com) and he was very adamant that I had a minor disc herniation caused by kiting + 10 years of poor lumbar posture.

    His entire protocol for the past 6 weeks has been to aggressively loosen my hamstrings and strengthen my glutes (I’m not even allowed to run) in order to fix my pelvic tilt and give my lumbar its proper curve back, which was definitely the most prescriptive treatment plan any of the doctors I had seen gave me – and has seemed to work pretty well! Now at the end of week 6, it feels like my day is 90% thinking about sitting, bending, lifting and standing with good posture, but all that said it definitely feels great to even be ABLE to sit with proper posture and not have a nerve ache in my lumbar after an hour. Just debating when is the time to get back on a board and not set myself back.

    Can’t thank you enough dude for your thorough responses on here. Huge sigh of relief.

    • Team BackPainTraining

      November 5, 2020 at 9:44 am

      Really glad my experience can serve others, that was the goal. In my case flexion was a no-no, I found that out quickly as I tried things like the McKenzie method. From what I understand (I’m no doctor) it depends on the direction and angle your disc slipped. I tried putting on a lumbar harness for a while but it didn’t really make a difference. I also chose to stay away from a hard harness because I read these keep your core muscles from working to adjust to the situation. Instead immediately started sitting without using the back rest with my core muscles engaged – being doing it for 5 years now, it’s like sitting on a stool while working, relaxing etc. It was hard at first as you have to be careful not to slouch, but after a while it becomes completely natural and an ongoing passive workout.

      Sounds like you were really lucky to find that PT guy. In my case I suspect this was also the result of really bad posture at work (slouching) combined with bad form when stand up paddling in waves – lots of hard strokes and sudden moves with the spine flexed. All the docs I saw were complete quacks and all they did was prescribe crippling painkillers and nasty nerve dulling mind-numbing drugs.

      Based on your description and my experience, it really sounds like your guy’s approach is a step in the right direction of strengthening the core. He has a lot more knowledge than I did so you should even better than me in terms of recovery time. I’m pretty sure I also have some kind of pelvic tilt affecting my hips and overall alignment, probably also a factor in the way the injury occurred. I still have to find a competent PT to help me with that core issue. But yeah, it’s a pretty great achievement being able to sit and walk pain free after something like this.

      Keep at it and you’ll be back on your board soon. You’ll actually be stronger than before the injury with reinforced spine and core and better posture and motion habits. Also if it works for you, keep doing FT, worked miracles for me.

  7. Just wondering how to modify the exercises in Foundation if you really can’t do much? I have been hurting for 3 months and have worked with 2 PT’s. First they thought it was facet irritation, and now a disc issue. So needless to say, I was doing all these different movements.

    I don’t have sicatica and all the reflexes were good. Getting an MRI next week.
    I hurts went i walk and it feels like i have to struggle to keep myself up at the waist. Tired of taking pain meds and want to do something that works.

    I can’t “hang” off of anything for decompression. If I do the pain in my wasit is pretty bad. Getting up from a lying down position really hurt too. So just trying to figure out how to strengthen and stabilize at this point?

    thanks

    • Team BackPainTraining

      November 5, 2020 at 8:03 pm

      Hi Daphne, sorry to hear about your pain, I went through exactly the same thing. I found that doing significant movements while in the pain phrase can be painful and counter productive, I personally spent quite a few weeks mostly lying down and unable to stand upright. During that stage I wasn’t able to do much in terms of strengthening. After a while, even though I still couldn’t stay up straight for more than about 1 minute, I was sort of able to do the Founder exercise but with my hands resting on a chair in front of me – there is a video showing this version in the training series. I was also unable to hang initially without supporting myself with my feet on the floor – since I was permanently bent at the waist and trying to unbend would hurt a lot. Initially, I was also able – with caution — to get on my hands and knees and slowly lift my arm and leg off the floor in a “superman” like position. In short, I did whatever I could do to get my body moving slightly without causing extra pain, until I was progressively able to do a true Founder, and at a later stage, other FT exercises. In my case, I felt that getting off my couch was vital, but many it would be so painful that I would do a 5-minute attempt and stop there.
      Hang in there, it WILL pass, you just need lots of patience, and be careful not to force anything. Pain is NO gain!

  8. OMG thank you! I just came across your page and this has made me see some hope! I too am a surfer, prone and sup. I have an L5, S1 Disc Herniation and the pain can be horrific. I feel it in the back of my pelvis and in my right foot, like being flicked with an elastic band. It is horrible. I am going to research this and hopefully i too will find some relief 🙂

  9. Thank you for sharing! Im 19 years old and have struggled with a disc bulge for 1,5 years now, with little to no progression. I’ve tried several different kinds of medicin but it hasn’t had any effect, and no doctors have been able to give me exercises that help me. I’m starting to lose hope, and i wonder if im going to have to deal with this for the rest of my life.

    I went on amazon to look for the FT cd/book, and it seems to have a lot of content, but i’m a little confused about how it works. Did you use all of the chapters on the cd in order to heal from your herniated disc? Or was it just certain exercises from the program that helped you?

    Thank you in advance!
    Karla

    • Team BackPainTraining

      November 19, 2020 at 9:21 am

      Hi Karla, I started with the first video which teaches you decompression breathing, then the easy versions of the Founder exercise, and get going. Initially I couldn’t do a many things so I just did the first few videos with easy stuff for me. Then slowly, step by step, I went through ALL the videos. I did 10-20 minute sessions once or twice a day. Eventually I became able to do all the exercises as I was getting stronger. This stuff worked really well, if you have a similar condition you should definitely give it a try! Then you’ll use these techniques forever to fix yourself up when things go bad, that’s what I do. Best of luck !

  10. Just wondering if you recall your disc herniatation being a disc extrusion and the size of it? Mine is 13mm and considered large but at the same time I don’t want to go down the surgery path if i can conservatively treat it despite it being large.

    Also, did you experience any slight weakness in your left foot? Not necessarily foot drops but more so the strength and reflexes not being as strong as your right food when you were going thru this ordeal.

    Thanks!

    • Team BackPainTraining

      February 23, 2021 at 9:45 am

      I have no idea how large mine was TBH. I did have some numbing in my left foot which lasted a long time even after being able to stand up and walk again.

  11. Gulshan Khurana

    March 5, 2021 at 1:13 pm

    This is what i was looking for!! Each words are same as i can feel it. But it’s been 9 months from injury, i am able to walk seat for some time. I am not healed up my disc
    If you made it. I can too,
    Please if it is ok with you then can i personally talk with you through email.
    I dont want to go for surgery and i wanna come back to my sports life!!

  12. I feel as if I am reading my own diary. I was recently given the exact same diagnosis. I have always been an active, healthy woman. I am 51 and a personal trainer. Never in a million years did I expect this diagnosis. I never had any back problems until I began experiencing shooting pain down my left leg and butt and random tingling on top of left foot. I honestly thought it was just piriformis syndrome. The news was a bit of a shock and when my radiologist reviewed my MRI with me I felt as if everything was closing in. Too much information for me. He strongly suggested I start contacting surgeons. Well, surgery is my absolute last resort. I am going to try everything else available until surgery is the only option. None of my doctors have suggested an inversion table. I’m glad to see that it has given you some relief. Also happy to see you are doing well after a few years with these conditions. It’s nice to know there are others out there that have not had surgery and living normal lives.

    • Team BackPainTraining

      March 18, 2021 at 9:34 am

      Thanks for sharing. Yes I’m fully recovered from this, but I’ve learned the right moves and postures. For example I ALWAYS sit up straight at work (as I am right now) and never rest my back on the chair rest, I engage my core all day to keep me from slouching, it’s now second nature. I do the FT stretches before and/or after any sport or workout.
      Regarding the inversion table, it’s great for decompression but decompression breathing and simply hanging off a pull up bar also works well. however decompression alone is not enough though, it needs to go hand in hand with stretching and strengthening. My main weapon has been and remains the Foundation Training approach, it did miracles for me (see this post in case you haven’t). You’ll be back in the game soon. All the best

  13. Hello and thanks for a great forum. Lots of great feedback and information here. I too had a herniated L5 S1 about 20 years ago. I went through PT and have had pretty good luck until about 4 months ago. I had been doing wall push ups for a while for strengthening and decided to increase the angle and repetitions to see if I could build some muscle. Shortly thereafter I had a ‘twinge’ in my lower back and have had bad sciatica in my left butt cheek and leg since. Not sure if that was the cause but that is when it started. I have gone through the usual treatments (PT, meds, etc.) but symptoms persist although not as intense as when the episode started. I am now waiting on insurance to approve coverage for an MRI so we can get some more detailed information and decide how to proceed. Once I know more I may try the Founder and perhaps a hanging bar. Seems to make sense. I tried an inversion table at the suggestion of my doctor but it seemed to make things a bit worse. Luckily my wife and kids love it so it’s not going to waste. Anyway thanks for allowing me to share and for the work you have put into this. I would imagine you have helped lots of people. I’ll definitely be using it as a resource. Take care

    • Team BackPainTraining

      May 3, 2021 at 10:26 am

      Hey Ralph, thanks for sharing. Maybe a bad angle made your disc slip back out – or even another disc? Guess the MRI will tell. The human body is a delicate mechanic no matter what some extreme athletes say. I hope FT style decompression works for you, please let us know when you find out. All the best.

      • MRI showed mild disc bulge of L5-S1 and L4-L5 and stenosis. Doctor has recommended steroid epidural. I am researching and thinking about it at this point.

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