Your low back and the deadlift
You have the power.
This is what you should keep in the front of your mind when it comes to pain and injuries.
Any doctor or expert that tells you they have the magic button that will rid you of pain forever is lying to you. The only person that truly has that button is you.
That being said, let's get into how you can take control of your low back pain when deadlifting.
1. It’s too heavy
Don't lift with your ego.
Trying to deadlift a weight that is entirely too heavy for you is a great way to start demonizing the deadlift. Take your time in progressing to heavier weights. There's no rush; you literally have the rest of your life to get to a three times bodyweight deadlift.
Maybe you did manage to get the weight to the top of the rep. This is not the time to lose tension; a weight that causes you to lose tightness at the top will make you regret picking it up on the way down.
2. Your back is in flexion
This is where most of you will find the answer to your pain.
Your lats aren't firing. Watch the video to learn how to turn on those lats with every rep. You'll stop putting extra stress on your low back if you are properly engaging your lats.
Even though the deadlift is considered a pull, there is still a push aspect to it. Spend some time actively pressing your feet through the floor in your next session. You will immediately notice the difference as well as a relief in your low back.
The deadlift is a hip hinge movement. It isn't a squat. Learn how to hip hinge using the drill in the video above. It will prevent the bar from getting in your way during the deadlift and causing extra stress on the low back as opposed to the glutes where you should be hinging from.
3. It’s you not the deadlift
You're so special that maybe the conventional deadlift isn't good enough for you. If you have a hard time getting into position in the straight bar deadlift try another variation. The trap bar can be your friend here, as can a kettlebell.
If your shoes have the word "air" in their name, or the word "comfort" anywhere in their product description take them off when deadlifting. The cushion creates an unstable base that your body needs to compensate for. That compensation takes away from your form and can cause pain in the low back.
4. Your set-up is jacked up
See 5 Steps to Deadlift Perfection
Commit these steps to memory. Some of the most common mistakes include:
- Not keeping the bar in contact with the shins
- Not bending knees enough
- Not setting up each rep AKA bouncing the bar
- You're looking all over the place AKA not fixing your gaze
See full breakdowns of these mistakes in the video above.
5. Your back is in hyperextension
90% of people are in flexion (see #2). The rest of you may be in hyperextension at the top of the movement. If that's the case, check out the video and learn how to wake up your glutes so that you can engage them instead of throwing all of your weight into your low back.
Here's the full video to correct all potential low back issues in the deadlift. Get in the gym, apply your fix, and keep training!