Deadlifts for lower back pain.
Most people think deadlifts cause lower back pain – but this is misguided.
In fact, deadlifts can improve lower back pain.
It is just a matter of doing them correctly.
By Coach Hunter Bennett
Lower back pain from deadlifts
Before anything else, it is worth discussing why some people may experience lower back pain from deadlifting.
1. Deadlifts and Lower Back Muscle Soreness
When you perform deadlifts, the muscles of your lower back are working hard to stabilise your spine.
As such, deadlifts can lead to muscle soreness of the spinal erectors.
For some reason people get a little worried when they feel muscle soreness in their back. But this isn’t something we seem to worry about with other muscle groups.
Hell, most people perceive it as a good thing.
If your arms are sore after the gym, you often think of it as a sign that the right muscles were working.
And it the same as deadlifts.
Muscle soreness is normal.
So, if you are getting sore spinal erectors 1-2 days after a deadlift session, there is nothing to worry about.
2. Deadlifts and lower back pain: Technique
Although I don’t have any research to back this up, anecdotally, I have seen some people get lower back pain after deadlifts when they do so with specific technique deviations.
- Arching excessively through the lower back throughout the movement
- Arching the lower back excessively at the top of the movement
- Moving from a rounded spine at the bottom of the movement to an extended spine at the top of the movement.
In these scenarios we are seeing the spine move excessively during the movement (and often under load), which can cause lower back pain during deadlifts in certain individuals.
But in brief, this can be corrected by maintaining a solid brace, keeping your ribs locked down, and stopping the movement when the hips reach full extension.
Deadlifts for Lower Back Pain
So, considering the above, you might be wondering why and how deadlifts can improve lower back pain.
And honestly, it isn’t that surprising.
1. Deadlifts increase back strength
This sounds like a no brainer, but that doesn’t make it any less important.
As I have already alluded to, deadlifts increase the strength of your spinal erectors and the surrounding musculature.
This can reduce the load placed on the passive structures of your spine during movement, reducing pain.
In fact, there is good evidence demonstrating that increasing lumbar extensor strength can reduce the severity of lower back pain in a big way.
2. Deadlifts strengthen the muscles of the hips
Like the above, the muscles of the hip contribute to spinal stability. They also play a key role during daily tasks like walking, and athletic tasks like running, jumping, and bounding.
With this in mind, the stronger they are, the less load that goes through the back.
All of which explains why building the muscles of the hips have been shown to cause significant improvements in lower back pain.
3. Deadlifts reduce fear of movement
Having a general fear of movement, often in response to past injury, increases the likelihood of experiencing lower back pain.
This fear has been said to contribute to undesirable movement patterns that may increase injury risk. More importantly, it seems to heighten the normal pain response, making pain feel worse.
However, strength training has been shown to reduce this fear of movement, which can have a positive effect on pain perception.
And really, it makes sense.
If you know you can deadlift 100kg off the floor without any issue, are you really going to be scared of general movement?
Deadlifts for lower back pain: Key Points
While some people think that deadlifts cause lower back pain, this is seriously misguided.
In fact, when implemented with the correct technique, deadlifts can help alleviate lower back pain in a big way.
So, get deadlifting.
And if you want to read more about deadlifting, we suggest checking out our “article is the sumo deadlift cheating”.