Working Out Through My Herniated Disk Injury

Warning: I am not a doctor and I cannot speak to your injuries. Please seek medical advice before doing your workout. I was given the ok to do certain things/moves and my doctor knows that I am very tuned into my body, so he was ok with me going slow.

I had been going merrily along my fitness journey, and made one simple mistake stepping off a ladder. I thought I was on the bottom rung, and I was not. I ended up landing improperly and herniating a disk in my lumbar region. The pain was bad but I as able to mitigate it a little with ibuprofen.

I continued to to do my Muay Thai workouts and even forced myself through sit ups for three days after that. You see I have scoliosis and deal with back pain daily. I don’t let it stop me generally, so this time I tried to tough it out. That night and into and into the next morning. I was in excruciating pain. I had exacerbated my injury and could not move much. As a matter of fact any movement sent shooting pains down my leg. Any movement in my back, hip, and leg would cause pain. I ended up going to the doctor to find I had a herniated disk that was pushing on my sciatic nerve. That the pains I was feeling and the instability was normal with this kind of injury.

I had to lay down on the floor of my living room with my legs propped up barely moving, only to get up to attend to my human functions. I was in pain walking, in pain sitting, in pain laying there. I had to convalesces in home for 2 weeks. I saw my chiropractor 3 days a week to keep things in alignment and it was a game of waiting. I kept asking when I would be able to get up and do anything again. I even had a bit of depression, thinking that I would never be the same and never be able to move again. Because you see, when you have incredible pain, it is hard to see to the future. Depression is also I am told is normal in an extreme injury.

My doctor said it would take 3 months for it to heal completely. After the second week, I was given the ok to do what I could. No kicking, no bending, no twisting, and absolutely NO jumping.

I started slowly. I informed my trainers that I was severely injured, and what my doctors said I could do. They worked with me helping me, and giving me alternatives to my training. I made sure to ice my back before and after work outs. They let me lay down on the mat when needed, and they were there when I had questions. They helped me work around my injury. When I first started it was painful, and I paid for it afterward. However, I kept going. I kept going to my doctors appointments. I pushed through. My doctor was surprised at how fast I was healing. How my pain and numbness was ebbing. It would get better and I would aggravate it. But I was making steady progress towards better. Every two weeks or so my pain in my back and hip, and numbness in my toes would ease if just a bit.

My doctor truly believes that my activity though painful, and sometimes tear inducing, was what lead to my rapid amazing recovery. Because I did not lay and only let my muscles atrophy, I was able to ease back into the workouts I do now. It kept my spirits up, and I as able to keep working at it. If I had to lay there and not move for 3 months I might have given up on a whole lot of things. I enjoyed realizing that after a week, the pain of just twisting and moving would be slightly less, even if just a bit. Through out my training I had to lay on my back, no sitting, and only standing when I needed to. The only time I was up on my feet was to work and to workout.

See this article from about tips for working out during injury. This is a great article to get you started.

“It is very important to know the difference between a real injury and pain. During a workout, you may tweak something and experience pain.
Your initial reaction might be, “Ouch … but OK, I’m not bleeding, let’s tough this out.” If you have pain, stop working out right there and evaluate your symptoms to check the severity. Don’t just try to walk it out and hope for the best.
Of course we all want to be tough and gut it out, but the consequences for continuing to train and not taking enough time off to heal can be severe. Most of the time, it is a good idea to just stop and heal up before training again.”


  • First and foremost… listen to your body ( I admittedly have a hard time doing that. The drive to excel can make me blind to my pain. )
  • Inform your coach/trainer. (Let them know what you are going through. Let them know what your doctor said. A great trainer will understand, and tell you to let them know when you need to stop, or the movement is painful.)
  • If you feel a pain stop. (Learning what muscular pain is vs. skeletal, or joint pain is important. There is a difference between tired muscle and pain of injury.)
  • Be kind to yourself…(You are going to take time to heal, so do the things that you can. If you are not able to do everything, know that after you heal you will be able to.)
  • Don’t loose hope
  • Work around your injury
  • Keep your nutrition up (Don’t just let your nutrition slide cause you have been hurt)
  • RICE method is good to use ( If your injury is such that Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation will help your injury)
  • Use lighter weights if you are weight lifting
  • Warm up
  • Ice before and After injury (If it is applicable to your injury. If you have just had a say hysterectomy, icing won’t help. =) )
  • Stretch after workout
  • Use proper form when working out (Go slow and make sure you use proper form. Using proper form will prevent more injury.)

My back is much better now. I am back to running, and can sit for a few hours without pain. I train hard now, and kick at 100% now. When my back starts to hurt or feel not 100% I lay down, stretch and try to rest it. I also go to my chiropractor often to keep back and hips in alignment.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions let me know.

3 thoughts on “Working Out Through My Herniated Disk Injury

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