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I have finally sorted out my lower back injury the best that I can and have started the process back to full health. Shortly after the Arnold Classic I found out that I had torn my thoracolumbar fascia on the right side of my back. Fascia is a thin layer of connective tissue that envelopes muscle and kind of holds it all together. Fascia surrounds all of the skeletal muscle in our bodies, so when I tore the fascia I did not just tear one muscle. I found out that my right spinal erector, right internal oblique, right external oblique, and right gluteal fold had been torn. Needless to say, this has made the rehab process very slow.
My mindset going into the rehab process is to take things very slow and make sure that every step taken is forward. The first cycle of rehab was a three-week cycle aimed at increasing work capacity and getting in shape to train with higher volumes. The staples of this cycle were medicine ball circuits, sled dragging, barbell complexes, and escalated density training (increasing the volume each week in a set time period for antagonistic exercises). Reverse hypers have still been key to the rehab, along with various hip girdle movements. As usual, soft tissue work, flexibility work, and mobility are still performed regularly. The two most productive movements for specifically rehabbing the torn fascia have been squat shuffle sled drags and running. I know this sounds out of place for powerlifting, but I started performing 3000-4000 yards of tempo running per week and it has worked wonders for the healing of the fascia.
I have just started my second training cycle of the off-season. This cycle is a six-week accumulation phase. In other words, the volume gradually increases from week to week. The staple of this cycle, as far as rehabbing the lower back goes, is an RDL Russian cycle. Arched back movements do not seem to bother the fascia. This Russian cycle will consist of RDL’s three times per week in order of medium intensity, low intensity, high intensity. This should provide a good strength base to build off of when I start pulling from the floor again. I have posted my last heavy RDL session on my You Tube site. http://www.youtube.com/user/BDERM1?feature=mhw5#p/u. This is a good step forward. The most difficult training will be pulling heavy out of the rack and off of the floor – I am guessing the lower back will not be ready for this for a number of months.
The typical process for most rehab programs is to gradually increase the amount and intensity of stress that the injured tissue is exposed to. If you do this gradually and over an extended period of time, the injured tissue will slowly and gradually adapt by getting stronger and stronger. The key to the whole process, of course, is recovery. HMB has been absolutely crucial to the recovery process, not only to be able to handle the volume of a Russian cycle, but also to the actual healing of the torn fascia. Fascia does not have the same exact properties as skeletal muscle, but there are similarities and since fascia and muscle are so closely (and literally) connected, the same things that HMB does to enhance the performance of skeletal muscle (i.e. increase protein synthesis and decrease protein degradation) it does for fascia (soft tissue injuries) to a great extent. HMB is an absolute staple to the rehabilitation process!