My 2019 hasn’t started off the way I intended. Shortly after winning Strongman Corp Nationals this past year I began noticing a slight tingling sensation in my right upper Glute area. At first, I didn’t think much of it, I stretched, spent extra time warming up and focused on keeping braced during each lift. After a few more weeks I began competition prep for the 2019 Arnold, as the weights went up the tingling sensation moved down my leg and into the foot area. I decided to see a Doctor, Chiropractor, and PT. All of them told me it was Piriformis syndrome and the tingling will go away with proper stretching, so I continued training. They were all very wrong. In early December I was taking a long 700-mile commute to see family in Illinois when all the sudden I felt like something stabbed me in my hip. I could barely finish the drive and upon arriving at my destination I couldn’t walk. Long story short, an MRI proved I had two lumbar disk herniations with one severely compressing a nerve.
When I first heard the news all I could think of was my grandma telling me I was going to hurt my back if I keep lifting heavy weights. I was scared and started to question whether I would be able to compete in strongman again. Luckily, I found a good team of Orthopedic doctors in the Dallas, Texas area that works with a ton of athletes. My biggest take away from them is that back injuries are NOT a death sentence and anyone that says otherwise has been misinformed or failed to put in the necessary work to get better. Doctors estimate that nearly 7 out of 10 people have some sort of disk herniation most are just asymptomatic. A person can live, lift and run with a herniated disk he or she just must be more aware of their body and how it's moving. Studies have proven that surgery is not the most effective means of healing the injured area (although it can be the quickest to alleviate symptoms). I was given an epidural steroid injection to relieve the swelling in my lumbar spine, avoided surgery and immediately began Physical Therapy at an Olympic Training facility. I am now on the road to recovery and training six days a week. I learned that I had a plethora of issues starting with my feet and up the kinetic chain that most likely led to my injury.
Some takeaways I can give to you on preventing back injuries:
• If you don’t fully understand bracing and unsure if you are doing it right, stop and tell your coach even if you
think you sound stupid. I have pulled 825 lbs. without bracing and didn’t know any better
• Work on your hips and core every single day, especially abductors
• Deadlift and yoke are not core exercises despite what you have been told, they need to be trained directly
• Dorsal flexion and ankle mobility
• Knee tracking and alignment - If you are feeling sciatica see a doctor immediately and ask about a disk
herniation. Get ahead of it before it gets too bad
These are the things I am now working on every day and have little to no symptoms.
** If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach me on IG @Montfort_strong. ***