17 Jul Deadlifting With Back Pain
If you spend an afternoon at your local gym long enough, you will inevitably see someone deadlifting in a way that could make your own back hurt! Chances are, you may have even strained your low back trying to master this complex exercise. Yet, you’ve also heard the deadlift being praised as the best exercise for maintaining a strong and healthy back. So, which is it? Is the deadlift the problem or the solution to your back pain? In this article, you’ll learn how the deadlift exercise can help you to overcome back pain, how to perform proper deadlifting with back pain, as well as some key measures supported by research that you can use to evaluate when you are ready to deadlift after a back injury!
Deadlifting With Back Pain: Why Is Deadlifting Important?
More than just a common gym exercise, the deadlift is an integral part of daily life. If you’ve ever squatted down to pick up your kids, you’ve deadlifted! If you’ve rearranged the furniture in your house, you’ve deadlifted! If you’ve brought in a heavy package from Amazon, you’ve deadlifted!
Thus, if you want to get back to a full life after a back injury, deadlifting with back pain is likely going to be a part of the road to get there. Deadlift training can be the solution to your back problem if you follow some basic principles discovered by scientific research. This article will highlight when you can start to deadlift with back pain, the best deadlift variations after a back injury, and some awesome complementary exercises to battle-ready you back to the gym and for life!
Learn The Ultimate Warm-Up Before Deadlifting!
Deadlifting With Back Pain: What Should I Do?
First and foremost, you are not alone, back pain is the leading cause of disability in the world today.1 Researchers estimate that up to 80% of people will experience an episode of low back pain at some point in their life.2
While back issues can have a wide variety of presentations, the majority of the time the primary symptom is pain. Whether this pain is just in your back or extends down into your leg, the sooner you can get moving, the better. Simply put, MOTION IS LOTION!
While you may not feel like getting out of bed, finding a comfortable range of motion and continuing to move in that range is crucial for limiting the negative effects of an acute back injury.
No matter how long you have suffered from back issues, it is never too late to start feeling better. We get it, we have dealt with low back issues too! The Low Back [P]Rehab Program is a physical therapist developed, step-by-step program that blends exercise science, current evidence, our clinical expertise, and our personal experiences to provide you with the ultimate solution! Click HERE to learn more
One note on safety: in rare cases, a low back injury can be accompanied by bowel and bladder changes as well as significant changes in the strength, sensation, or reflexes of your lower extremities. If you have any or all of these symptoms you should seek a consultation with a healthcare professional.
In all of the above cases, the key is to focus on what you can do, and do it! Rather than focusing on your pain and limitations.
So When Can I Start Deadlifting With Back Pain?
Fortunately, a research study in Sweden sought to answer the exact question of which people with back pain would benefit from deadlift training.3 They identified two criteria for those who would benefit from deadlifting with back pain, which you can easily assess on your own:
- Patients with pain severity less than a score of 60 on a scale of 1-100.
- Patients with a score of greater than 60 seconds on the Biering-Sørensen test of hip and back extensor endurance.
Essentially, if your back pain allows you to, and your low back muscles are strong enough to support you during the movement, you not only CAN deadlift with back pain, but you SHOULD deadlift with back pain! The participants in this study who met the above criteria had significant improvements in pain, strength, and functional abilities from 1-2 deadlifting training sessions/week for 8 weeks.
How To Test Yourself If You’re Ready To Deadlift With Back Pain: The Biering-Sørensen Test
A modification of the Biering-Sørensen test can easily be performed on a table with a partner or in the gym using a Glute Ham Developer (GHD) machine. The test is designed to assess the endurance of your posterior chain by using your glutes, hamstrings, and low back muscles to hold your unsupported upper body in a neutral position. In this context, the goal would be to hold the position for > 60 seconds to fit the criteria to benefit from barbell deadlifting with back pain. Watch the videos below for a more detailed explanation: