If you’ve ever hurt your back deadlifting or are afraid to do deadlifts in fear that you will end up hurting yourself, you’re not alone. There are 5 reasons why injuries are common on the deadlift. I’ll share with you what these reasons are, how to determine the right deadlift form for your body and how to perform this proper deadlift form safely to help you, not hurt you. Learn how to properly deadlift without fearing lower back pain here.
First, the problem with deadlifts is that it’s very easy to lose a neutral spine position – which contributes to injuries. So what can we do about this? Well, today I’ve brought in world renowned back pain expert Dr. Stu McGill, who has studied the science of back pain for over 30 years. The first reason you struggle with proper deadlift form may have to do with your hip structure. Those with deep hip sockets tend to have the most trouble getting into and pulling from the bottom position of a deadlift, especially when using a narrow foot stance. Those with deep hip sockets will thus need to modify their stance.
To find the optimal stance and type of deadlift for you and your hips, get onto all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders, knees under your hips, and ideally with your feet against a wall. Sink your hips back into heels as deep as you can without rounding your lower back. Then, try to find that sweet spot position that feels the best and allows you to get the deepest without rounding at your lower back. Once you’ve found that position, stand up and make note of how far apart your feet were and the angle your knees were turned out at. That will now be the safest deadlift stance for you to use.
Next up: using standard 45-pound weights on each side forces you to have the required range of motion or the right body structure to be able to safely deadlift from that height. Don’t have either? Rather than forcing your body to pull from the ground, find a way to elevate the bar to shorten the range of motion to a level where you can perform the deadlift without compromising on correct form. Then, after a month or so, try lowering it slightly and see how that feels. If that goes well, great, build from there and continue lowering. If that however causes back pain or breaks down your form, then go back to the higher plates.
Third, you need to create what’s called the “lifter’s wedge” to create stiffness before you pull for proper deadlift form. When at bottom position, find a neutral spine and the bring bar as close to shins as you can. Then, think about bending the bar to engage lats/pecs. This will provide the counterbalance needed to “pull” your chest up and hips down, “wedging” yourself between the floor and the bar. You’ll have already performed 95% of the lift. From here, you simply apply 5% more effort by pushing your feet into the ground and bringing the hips through to complete the lift.
Fourth: perfecting your deadlift technique and strengthening your protective back and core muscles takes time and repetition. During this process, many let their ego get in the way and try to lift loads that exceed their ability to maintain a neutral spine and stiffness throughout the pull. So, earn your right to have more weight. Focus on keeping good form, rather than how much weight you’re lifting.
Now, what if you’ve applied everything we went through on deadlift form and are still experiencing lower back pain? Well, if it’s not a sharp shooting pain, your lower back muscles may just be adapting to the exercise. Pay attention to the level of soreness you get after your first few sessions. If it is just a matter of your back muscles adapting, then the soreness you experience after a session will decrease more and more overtime. If it doesn’t or if one day you feel a lot more low back soreness than usual, it’s an indication you’re breaking that neutral spine position during your lift and need to modify your form.
I hope you guys were able to see just how much the details matter for every exercise you do. It not only keeps you healthy and injury free in the long run, but it gets you results faster. And if you’re looking for a program that applies this to transform your specific body safely and effectively with science, then take the analysis quiz to discover which science-based program would be best for you and where your body is currently at below:
Big thank you to Dr. Stuart McGill for his help on this video. This man’s knowledge is incredible!
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