Friday, 8 April 2011

I - Day

If you follow me on twitter, I am sure you are aware by now that I have suffered some sort of injury, as I have spent most of my time moaning about rehab. Some of you might be wondering what has happened to me; others wondering what I am doing to get better, and some of you might be thinking about how this might affect my training and competition performance. Well, over the course of a series of blogs, I will answer these questions.

Injuries are a part of sport, and a large number of athletes suffer one big injury at least (and hopefully only) once in their career. These injuries are career and possibly life-changing. They alter what you can do on a day-to-day basis both in training and life. I fully believe what happened to me is my “big” injury, so hopefully now that is out of the way. Ready? Here we go:


In 2005, aged 18, I suffered a spinal injury which was diagnosed as a left sided SI joint strain. There was no x-ray or MRI to confirm this, it was just a working analysis. It is highly likely at this point that I also suffered some sort of lower spine disc bulge, but at a very low level. In 2007, I was suffering from intense muscle spasms in my back, which at some points got so bad I couldn’t get my hands to my knees. This was happening mid-season, and so to stop it I had a couple of injections, and had to stop doing blocks, which was a part of my race that needed work – as Imp sure you can believe, this was very frustrating for me. I had two MRIs that year – one before and one after the season. They showed a couple if disc bulges, at a fairly low level. So, due to this, I modified my training slightly, added in a whole host of back and abdominal strength exercises, took good care of my back, and, over time, suffered no symptoms at all. As far as I was concerned, that was the end of my back problems.

Day 0 – Injury

So now we move forward to March 4th 2011, the first day of the European Indoor Championships, for which I hadn’t been selected. So, I was back into my first week of training, and I was in the gym. I had already done some push-press and hang cleans, and was feeling good. I was doing some deadlifts, at a very light weight of 140kgs, and as I was preparing for the third rep of my set. I locked in my back position, and prepared to begin my pull. As lifted the weight off the floor, I was aware of my back rounding ever so slightly. Straight away, I then had a really weird feeling, like something was moving backwards out of my spine, followed by a strong pain either side of my lower back, which immediately became a shooting pain across the whole of my back. I yelled out a few choice words, dropped the weight, and stood up, and which point my back completely locked up. Every muscle from my hamstring to the top of my ribcage had spasmed, in order to protect my spine. I made my way (slowly) to the physio room, and they set me up with an appointment for later in the day, gave me painkillers, and sent me to get a warm shower. The idea here s that the warm water would help my muscles to relax.

The shower was very hard work. Because my back had spasmed, I couldn’t get my shorts off, and it took me fully 5 minutes of hard work to get my socks off. As I stood in the shower, I was about 75% sure that my career was over, the pain was that bad. Getting out o the shower wasn’t much fun either, as I had to stand still to allow my shorts to dry, and spend another 5 minutes getting my socks back on.

The physio appointment didn’t go much better! This was about 3 hours post-injury now, and there really wasn’t much the physio could do for me. As I got off the physio bed, I then went into shock, because the pain was so bad. That was a weird feeling, as I went dizzy, lost my hearing, and couldn’t stop shaking. Anyway, my girlfriend came up to look after me, which was necessary as at this point I couldn’t even dress myself, and I tried to get some sleep that night, but I slept terribly as every time I dosed off I jolted awake because my back seemed to spasm.

Before I went to bed, I looked at myself in the mirror. I was in an horrific state. My stomach was distended as my core musculature had completely shut down. I had a very significant lurch in my spine (which I common in disc injuries), which caused my pelvis to be significantly outside of my body’s centreline.

Next time, we will look at my first week of rehab, and what I did during that time period.


  1. Craig, I followed your training log on ET, and I noticed that you never use any deadlift variations in your training. Perhaps you simply omitted it from the log, but I thought it might be a philosophical difference between the Euro method and the US/Caribbean method that I'm familiar with.

    I had some chronic hamstring problems last year similar to yours. I would rest up, rehab, and then get injured again. Even when I switched to a Clyde Hart-type program consisting almost entirely of tempo runs <90%, I would eventually reinjure it.

    Over the winter, I took 3-4 weeks off the track and just worked on strength and flexibility in the weight room. I had never used Romanian deadlifts before, but I incorporated them heavily during that period, and my hamstring strength and flexibility improved dramatically. Now I use them in my regular training scheme, once a week after power cleans. They are the best change I have made to my training in a long time. I think they're the best hamstring exercise there is. It is a more functional movement than GHRs or similar exercises, just as squats are more functional than leg extensions.

    Of course, that's just all just my opinion. I'm sure you and your coaches know much more than I do. I'm curious as to what you use in place of RDLs as a hamstring strengthener, and what the Euro method says about them in general. Or perhaps I was wrong to assume you don't use them.



  2. Hi Alex

    I have used RDLs alot in the past, but I can no longer do them due to my back injury detailed above. I think they are a useful exercise if you have weakened hamstrings, like you mentioned you did, and I used them alot when I was getting hamstring issues.

  3. Sounds horrible mate. How's the progress going? And where have you vanished to?