Setting Up for Success
Reducing low back pain in the Deadlift exercise
A “deadlift” is simply the motion of picking a weight off the ground and safe variations of it are integrated into most of our member’s workouts. It’s one of the best exercises for making the body STRONG! While technically a lower-body exercise (hip hinge, to be exact), the deadlift is truly a whole-body exercise, creating strength from the feet to the core to the grip of our hands. In our gym, we use many types of weights and bars during the deadlift: straight barbells, hex / trap bars, kettlebells, dumbbells and more.
One issue many people find while first performing a straight bar deadlift, especially, is increased tension and pain in the low back. While there could be many reasons for this, a significant contributor may be the SET UP OF THE BARBELL too far forward over the feet.
Avoid placing the barbell over your toes, as seen in the top of the picture – it sets you up to arch the barbell up – if ever so slightly – using your low back. It doesn’t promote a straight line of travel for the bar or a solid starting position, where you hips are wedged between your shoulders and the floor. You’ll likely initiate the lift with your low back and cause it to carry most of the load instead of the the hamstrings and glutes. No bueno!
Do place the barbell over your laces, instead – it allows the bar to travel CLOSE TO THE SHINS – you should literally be scraping your shins a bit as you lift and lower. Keeping the bar in tight like this allows the hips to get in a better starting position and engages the hamstrings, glutes, and lats to move you strong and steady through the exercise.
Focusing on this one tweak alone can save a lot of back discomfort! Be sure to keep an eye on your set up the next time you’ve got deadlifts in your program.
Healthy and Strong!