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How To Deadlift To Cure Back Pain


The Deadlift is widely considered the king of all exercises. Whether you realise it or not, you are doing hundreds of deadlifts every week. Any time you pick your bub, bend over to grab the dog, or grab a plate from the bottom draw you are (should be) doing a deadlift. This is all before you head to gym and your trainer/program makes you do deadlifts in a workout. So how can you deadlift to cure back pain?

On first appearance it seems pretty simple. But like everything that is good for you, the devil is in the details. In order for you to deadlift safely, a few requirements are necessary if you want to lift any weight off the floor..

  1. Adequate range of motion.
  2. Proper trunk stabilisation 

Being able to do these 2 things will not only protect your back, but strengthen and protect you from injury.

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Mobility requirements to deadlift:

In order to deadlift from the ground, you need to be able to touch your toes. Stand with your feet together knees locked out (Straight, no bend). Bend forward and reach for the ground.

If you are can’t get your hands down to the ground, when you set up for a deadlift (off the ground) you won’t be able to reach it without rounding your back. Never fear though. If you can’t touch your toes, you can still do deadlifts from a box or spotters bars at the height you can reach down to. 

 How to Deadlift To Cure Back Pain:

When we talk about rounding out the back, we are talking about going from a neutral or normal standing position to a rounded one. Standing side-on (right side facing the mirror) you should see a nice C shaped curve in the lower back( kinda like a smiley face : ).  If you lose this ) shape it places extra stress on the lower back and decreases its ability to handle stress.

The other problem with rounding out your back when you lift is the loss of tension in the trunk. (Tension is what allows you to lift the weight. If you can exert more force on the bar than gravity can, you win, and lift the weight up). The problem with this is if you create tension in the wrong muscles or joints it leads to overuse injuries, muscle strains or ligament sprains. In other words PAIN. 

The other problem with rounding out your back is you will only get so far in a rounded back posture. So in order to finish the deadlift movement, you have to reverse the ) back to a C. This movement creates a shearing force in the lower back and can cause injuries.

How To Deadlift To Cure Back Pain

shear forces in the lower back can be causing your lower back pain

Introducing the hip hinge:

Let me introduce to you your low back saviour. The Hip hinge. The hip hinge is:

“The ability to stabilise the upper body and lower limbs and generate the majority of the movement through the hips”.

Think of the hips like a hinge on a door, you want all the movement to occur in one spot, if both plates on the hinge are moving the door will wiggle around and gets stuck when you try and close it (or open in).

The ability to perform a good hip hinge is essential to deadlift to cure back pain. A good hip hinge generates tension in your hips via the glutes and the hamstrings (not your lower back). These 2 muscle groups are amongst the largest in the body and much more capable of generating and storing tension than the lower back.

Here is the first progression for your hip hinge, it is done in a kneeling position to make sure you can concentrate on keeping the torso stable, you want to focus on:

  • How hard you have to work through your midsection to keep the glutes, mid-back and back of the head in contact with the broomstick.

Next, you can move on to the standing variation which will be adding more joints (the feet, ankle, and knees) into the equation, which makes the exercise a little more difficult. 

Deadlift To Cure Back Pain:

Once you have nailed these postures you are ready to add a little weight and start deadlifting to cure your back pain.

Now you’re all over the hip hinge and on the way to curing your back pain, it’s time to work on the other 5 foundational movement patterns. If you’ve been struggling with back pain for a while, it is worth checking out a few other culprits: The Big Toe, The Hip Flexors, The Hamstrings, and The Glutes.

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