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Back Pain Center

Lower Back Pain During Deadlifts

by
author image Grey Evans
Grey Evans began writing professionally in 1985. Her work has been published in "Metabolics" and the "Journal of Nutrition." Gibbs holds a Ph.D. in nutrition from Ohio State University and an M.S. in physical therapy from New York University. She has worked at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and currently develops comprehensive nutritional and rehabilitative programs for a neurological team.
Lower Back Pain During Deadlifts
A woman performing a deadlift in a crossfit gym. Photo Credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

A certain amount of discomfort ia par for the course following a heavy deadlift workout. If you feel nothing a day or two after performing one of the most difficult barbell exercises, you did not train hard enough. The difference between injury and soreness is important, however. If you suspect an injury, see a physician and follow your prescribed treatment plan. Several options help you relieve and avoid general pain, or at least minimize it.

Hip Position

Keep your hips down when deadlifting. While the deadlift is primarily a back exercise, that does not mean it is exclusively a back exercise, so use your legs. Get your hips down at the start of your deadlift by bending your knees and pushing your hips back and down. The weight of the bar will help balance you, so sit back until your shoulders are in back of the bar. If they are over the bar or in front of it before you start to deadlift, you are using too much of your back and will probably experience pain.

Arch

Do not allow your back to round; keep it arched if possible. While you do not need to arch like a gymnast attempting a backbend, maintaining a tight arch or flat back while deadlifting reduces the chances of your vertebrae grinding together. The chance of this is increased if you allow your hips to rise during the deadlift. Even though you start with your hips down, you need to work to keep them low during the lift. When standing up, do not attempt to lean back to pull a deadlift; instead, push your hips forward and your head and shoulders back. By utilizing proper mechanics, you can keep your spine neutral if you cannot quite maintain an arch.

Deadlift Style

Some people have trouble with the conventional deadlift style. To find out if you are one of them, attempt the sumo deadlift. Place your feet at least half-again as wide as your shoulders with your toes pointed out at a 45-degree angle. Your shins should be against the bar. To grab the bar, keep your hands inside your legs and get low enough by pushing your knees out in the direction of your toes. Pull the bar off the floor by keeping your hips low and your torso vertical and by driving with your legs. This style puts far less strain on your lower back, according to a 2000 study published in "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise."

Dealing With Pain

Light exercise can help relieve the localized pain from a brutal deadlift workout. Go for a walk. Do not attempt to set any speed or distance records, just get out and get your blood flowing faster by increasing your heart rate. Light exercise for your lower back, such as reverse hyperextensions or hyperextensions, can help relieve some of the pain. Supplementation with branched-chain amino acids has been shown to limit muscle soreness, according to a 2007 study published in the "International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism."

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