BLOG TAKEOVER: Is the deadlift bothering your low back?

It is a heavy deadlift time of year and I couldn’t be more pumped to talk to you all about the deadlift to help foster your goals, with TSC or with other being your most fierce self.

The good news is that the deadlift is a very safe exercise. It uses pretty much every muscle in your body. Got shoulder pain? Deadlift. Got hip pain? Deadlift. Got back pain? Deadlift.

Yep, I said it, deadlifting can actually be incredibly valuable for treating back pain. I know, I know, for many of you, it has actually CAUSED some back pain. Understandably so. When you do a deadlift, you recruit an incredible amount of muscles in your low back and spine. And muscles in your back can get sore and injured, just like muscles in your leg.

So, what can you do? The first thing, is to remind yourself that you are a badass. After that, step towards a deadlift modification. Modifications to the deadlift can change the mechanical properties of the lift, resulting in decreased strain on the lower back.

Move from conventional to sumo stance to reduce low back strain.

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The sumo stance deadlift brings the hips slightly lower to the ground, and if you check out the images below, you’ll see that the angle at the spine is more vertical with sumo stance, making the biomechanical properties of the lift, a bit lower through the lumbar spine/low back.

Ok, so maybe you’ve tried that and you’re still having trouble. Don’t fret, there are still some things you can do to foster improving your strength and resiliency, particularly through your spine.

Unload the bar a bit.

This is hard for people to do, because it feels like a concession. Like you are slowing your progress. But guess what, this is actually a great way to foster recovery. Periodization in training is valuable! We can tend to miss that at times because we think that forward motion is the only direction. Trust in the process. Unload the bar and grease the groove with lighter weights. Learn to trust that your spine won’t break with deadlifts because it is so insanely strong!

Try a different deadlift variation.

There is no shame in doing something else. Do a kettlebell deadlift, do a unilateral deadlift, a single leg deadlift. All of these things will continue to foster your strength AND allow your body to recover in the process.

Remember, your spine is robust. In all circumstances you will adapt. And trust me when I say, that removing exercise from your life is an adaptation that often isn’t worthy of fostering.

Reach out if you need me. Ask questions. Use me as a resource. I want to keep you happy, healthy and resilient as you navigate the world of strength through aches, pains or niggles. I’m in your corner over here.


Dr. Ellie Somers, PT     “Physio on a Mission”

Dr. Ellie Somers, PT

“Physio on a Mission”

Posted on September 27, 2018 .