Deadlifts are one of the most popular weightlifting exercises, and they have significant benefits for strengthening your core, back, and legs – so it’s no surprise that more people than ever are trying out this powerlifting exercise.
But deadlifts do have a number of risks, due to the heavyweight used, and the techniques required to lift heavy weights safely. If you perform deadlifts incorrectly, you could be at risk of back, shoulder, and leg pain.
Lower back pain from deadlifts are especially common among people who have just started.. So in this article, we’ll discuss the mistakes that can lead to lower back pain, and how to correct them! Let’s begin.
1. Start By Learning Proper Deadlifting Technique
The importance of this cannot be overstated. If you are not deadlifting properly, you will hurt yourself. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. Eventually, your improper biomechanics will lead to pain your back, legs, or shoulders – and could even cause injuries.
Here’s a basic outline of the steps you should be taking when performing a deadlift.
- Begin by holding the bar using a straight-arm, shoulder-length grip. Your mid-foot should be placed directly underneath the bar, with your feet firmly planted shoulder-length apart.
- Bend your knees, lowering yourself until the shins contact the bar
- Assume a neutral back position. Keep your back flat, no “rounding.” Brace your core, and take a breath
- Tighten the lats and shoulders to prepare to accept the load of the heavyweights
- Pull. Keep the bar against your legs, pulling the weight up while using your hips as a “hinge,” until you are standing completely erect.
- Lower. Maintain your neutral back position, and lower the weight to the floor in a smooth motion.
Need further tips, or to see a proper deadlifting technique in action? Take a look at this video from Mark Rippetoe, author of the Starting Strength weightlifting guide.
2. Improve The Range Of Motion Of Your Hamstrings
If your hamstrings are tight or inflexible, you may have lower back issues, even when lifting properly. Tight hamstrings increase the tendency to “curve” the back when deadlifting, which can lead to lower back pain and damage.
You should use a variety of hamstring stretches to improve your range of motion. Note that you should not stretch your hamstrings immediately before deadlifting, as this could lead to weakness and injury.
3. Activate Your Back And Shoulder Muscles Properly When Lifting
This is another common cause of lower back pain during deadlifts. If you’re not activating your lats and shoulders properly, you’re putting excess strain on your lower back, which can lead to pain.
When lifting, you should pull up the “slack” on the bar, until you hear the “click” caused by closing the gap between the bar and the plates loaded onto the bar. When you hear this “click,” tense up your lats and shoulders – before pushing up with your legs. This is the best way to ensure that your back and core are properly tensed before lifting.
4. Don’t Let Your Ego Control You – Know Your Limits
We’ve all been there. You’re feeling good about your lifting abilities, and you want to challenge yourself – or you’ve had to take a break for a few weeks, but want to get back to lifting the same weight you were in the past.
Don’t overdo it. Every human body has limits – and when you push past these limits, you’re at risk of hurting yourself.
If you are experiencing lower back pain, don’t just keep lifting the same weight. Lower the weight, refine your technique and keep at it until you can lift pain-free. Then, begin raising the weight slowly to ensure you do not repeat the past mistakes that caused your pain.
Listen To Your Body – Get Help For Lower Back Pain Caused By Deadlifting
In some cases, lower back pain cannot be resolved by simply changing your deadlifting technique. If you experience either acute or chronic lower back pain, see a specialist physician right away. Deadlifting incorrectly can cause major damage to the spine, and it’s critical that you address any pain before you try to lift heavy weights again.
Listen to your body, change your technique, and get the help you need. Therapies can include physio, stretching and specialist infrared heat pads. You’ll be back to lifting heavy weights in no time.