Sarabeth Phillips took 2nd place the USA Weightlifting National Championships on Friday May 12. Just four days later Phillips felt a sudden pain in her back on a 125-pound power clean. While doing front squats after that, it felt “like something was squeezing my spine and I couldn’t breathe.”
Phillips knew immediately that something was wrong, but believed it might be related to some existing piriformis issues she had been dealing with. Doctors agreed that it could be related so Phillips continued to train through the pain.
Phillips knew deep down that it was likely more serious. The only time she wasn’t in pain was when she was working out. When she stopped, the only thing that would stop the pain was laying down.
She would go on to compete at the Atlantic Regional this past weekend, but would end up with only one top 10 finish. Phillips ended the weekend in 21st. As a comparison, she was 8th in 2016.
Phillips went into surgery this morning to fix a herniated L5-S1 disk and sequestered fragment. According to Phillips, “Turns out my symptoms and the herniation are bad enough to warrant surgery immediately. Prayers are greatly appreciated!!”
😏Well definitely not how I planned my summer or how my regionals would go but it is what it is. I know God has a big plans for me still and I’m trusting that. 🙌🏼💙Surgery to fix a herniated L5 S1 and sequestered fragment tomorrow morning. Turns out my symptoms and the herniation are bad enough to warrant surgery immediately. Prayers are greatly appreciated!! 🙏🏼 •••• •••• On May 16, I started a normal morning of training with a heavy snatch complex. I stripped the bar to 125lb to rack it for front squats. I did a power clean and on the catch something just didn’t feel right. I brushed it off as nothing and started to build up weight in front squats. It was 5 x 3 at tempo supposed to be heavy for the day. I built up like usual and by my 3rd set, I felt like something was squeezing my spine and I couldn’t breathe. I ditched the bar and knew something was really wrong. Couldn’t bend at the waist, hamstring pain, butt pain, foot numbness. I couldn’t sit without severe pain. The pain in my back was only momentary and went away. The main issue was my leg. I was already having piriformis issues on and off on the right side and thought it could be piriformis syndrome which could be pinching off my sciatic. After talking with multiple PTs and getting their evaluation, they also thought it could be the piriformis. With regionals so close, I didn’t want to believe it was my back but I knew deep down something was really wrong. Training for regionals had been going so well, I had just returned from USAW Nationals where I had taken silver. Everything was leading up to a perfect peak for regionals. So I pushed through. The only time I had no pain was when I was actively working out. All other times I was miserable with severe hamstring pain unless I was laying flat. I still ignored it. Thought it would go away. Not sure if anyone told me told me not to compete that I would have listened. I didn’t think it was a spinal problem so just brushed it off still. By the time regionals weekend came, I didn’t feel like myself. Exhausted from trying to deal with this pain every day. I stepped on the treadmill and couldn’t pull with that foot/leg…to finish reading go to Facebook!!