The deadlift is an advanced weightlifting technique to improve both upper- and lower-body strength. A tight lower back after deadlifts can occur for several reasons, and not all of them are beneficial. Learn how to assess your lower back tightness after deadlifts to improve performance and prevent further injury.
Learning proper deadlift form is one critical aspect of preventing lower back tightness. Position the barbell, loaded with weight plates, on the floor near your feet. Spread your legs shoulder-width apart and roll the bar toward you so that it is near your shins. Squat so that your thighs are parallel to the floor and your knees are centered above your ankles. Bend forward slightly while keeping your back straight. Allow your arms to hang toward the barbell. Grab the barbell with a mixed hand grip -- one hand wrapped over the bar while the other hand is wrapped under the back. Push down through your legs and squeeze your glutes while driving your hips forward to stand up with the barbell. When the barbell is halfway up your lower leg, begin to straighten out your back. Stand straight, then slowly return the weight to the floor by slightly bending and squatting.
The initial pull should come from contraction of your legs and glutes; however, a common mistake is to also pull with your back from the start. This places a large amount of strain on your lower back and should be avoided. Another section of the lift that can cause problems is at the halfway point where your back needs to begin to straighten out to the vertical position. A common mistake is to create a hunch or "C" shape in the back for extra help in lifting the barbell. This stretches your back muscles unnecessarily and forces them to bear an excess amount of weight. Your back must remain perfectly flat.
The other reason your lower back can be tight after performing the deadlift is because your spinal extensor muscles were engaged. The tightness and soreness your lower back is experiencing is from micro-damage to the muscle tissue in the lower back. When this tissue repairs, your lower back will be stronger and bigger to allow you to perform the deadlift exercise with heavier weights.
Distinguishing between the two types of lower back tightness after a deadlift workout can be difficult. If the area is tight and you feel a "jolting" or sharp pain when you move, you most likely injured your back. In this case, consult with your doctor for rehabilitation and avoid the deadlift until medically cleared. If your lower back is tight and you feel a dull pain or soreness running to the left and right of your spine, then the tightness is most likely from muscle breakdown. This type of tightness should subside within two to three days. Avoid deadlifts until soreness in the lower back is gone.
Use a spotter when performing deadlifts. The spotter should stand four feet away and observe your movement from a side view to watch your lift and help you maintain proper form, particularly in your back.