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Preventing Lower Back Pain from Deadlift: Techniques & Tips

pain in lower back after deadlift


The deadlift is an excellent exercise for building strength, power, and muscle mass throughout your body. However, it can also be the cause of behind lower back pain if not performed with proper form and technique. This blog dives deep into preventing lower back pain from deadlifts, equipping you with the knowledge and techniques for a safe and effective deadlift experience.

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What type of exercise is the deadlift?

The deadlift is a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously. It primarily engages the muscles of the posterior chain, including the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back (lumbar spine), but also works the upper back, traps, and forearms. Its functional movement pattern mimics everyday activities, such as lifting heavy objects off the ground, making it an essential exercise for building functional strength.

How Improper Form Can Lead To Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is a common injury for fitness athletes. It’s estimated that 80% of adults will experience it at some point in their life. While the deadlift offers tremendous benefits, improper form can significantly increase your risk of joining this statistic. Here are some common form mistakes that can lead to pain:

Rounded Lower Back

A rounded lower back, also known as cat-back, puts excessive stress on your spinal discs. Maintain a neutral spine throughout the lift, with a natural arch in your lower back.

Jerking the Weight

Using momentum to lift the weight puts unnecessary stress on your back. Deadlifts should be a controlled, deliberate movement powered by your muscles, not momentum.

Improper Hip and Knee Alignment

Improper hip and knee alignment throws off the entire deadlift movement. Keep your hips and knees slightly bent throughout the lift, focusing on pushing through your feet.

Lack of Core Engagement

A weak core muscle can’t stabilize your spine during the deadlift. Engage your core by bracing your abdominal muscles and keeping them tight throughout the exercise.

Hyperextension at the Top

At the top of the lift, avoid hyperextending your lower back. This can put additional stress on your lower back. Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings to stand tall, maintaining the spine in a neutral position.

Common Mistakes That Cause Lower Back Pain

Common Mistakes That Cause Lower Back Pain

Beyond improper form, several other factors can contribute to lower back pain from deadlifts:

Lifting Too Much Weight

Lifting weights that are too heavy can lead to poor form and increase your risk of injury. Start with lighter weights, focus on proper technique, and gradually increase heavy weight over time.

Improper Warm-Up

A cold, inflexible body is more prone to potential injury. Before deadlifting, perform a proper warm-up that includes light cardio and dynamic stretches to prepare your muscles and joints.

Incorrect Foot Position

Your foot placement significantly impacts deadlift form. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly outward for optimal stability.

Neglecting Hip Mobility

Tight hips can hinder your deadlift and contribute to lower back pain. Incorporate hip mobility exercises into your routine to improve your range of motion.

Failure to Progress Gradually

Adding too much weight too quickly can lead to pain or injuries. Focus on proper form and technique first, then gradually increase weight as you get stronger.

Proper Form and Technique for Deadlifts

Mastering proper deadlift form is important for protecting your lower back. Here’s a breakdown of the key steps:

Starting Position

Start with a standing position with the barbell directly over your midfoot. Hinge at your hips to lower your body, keeping your back straight and core engaged. Your arms should hang straight down, gripping the bar outside your shins.

Grip and Posture

Use an overhand grip with your hands shoulder-width apart. Maintain your spine neutral throughout the movement, with a slight arch in your lower back.

The Lift

Engage your core and glutes to lift the weight off the ground. Push through your heels, keeping the bar close to your body as you rise.

The Descent

Lower the weight back down in a controlled manner, maintaining the same form as you used to lift it. Don’t let the weight round your lower back.

Importance of Warming Up and Stretching

A proper warm-up and cool-down routine is important for preventing pain in lower back after deadlift and maximizing performance.

Light Cardio

Light cardio, such as jumping jacks or jogging, can increase blood flow and prepare your muscles for exercise.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretches like leg swings and arm circles improve your range of motion, loosen tight muscles, and prepare your body for the deadlift movement.

The Role of Core Strength in Preventing Lower Back Pain

The Role of Core Strength in Preventing Lower Back Pain

A strong core is your body’s natural stabilizer, protecting your spine during exercises like deadlifts. Here are some core stability exercises to strengthen your core:

Planks and Side Planks

These exercises fortify the core, enhancing stability throughout each phase of the deadlift and reducing the load on the lower back.


By strengthening the glutes and hamstrings, bridge exercises help ensure these muscles effectively contribute to the deadlift, minimizing unnecessary strain on the lower back.

Abdominal Exercises

Solid abdominal muscles support the spine, especially under load, enhancing spinal alignment and improving the overall effectiveness of the deadlift while preventing pain.

Tips for a Safe and Effective Deadlift

Here are some additional tips to ensure a safe and pain-free deadlift experience:

Gradually Increasing Weight

Start with a weight you can comfortably lift with perfect form. Gradually increase the weight as you get stronger, focusing on form over weight.

The Importance of Rest and Recovery

Your body needs time to recover from challenging exercises like deadlifts. If you’re wondering, should you deadlift with lower back pain? the answer is to prioritize rest. Allow yourself adequate rest days between deadlift workouts, and incorporate active and low-impact activities like walking or yoga to maintain flexibility and strength without straining your back.

When to Seek Professional Advice

If you experience persistent sharp pain in your lower back, radiating pain down your leg, or numbness, stop deadlifting immediately and consult a healthcare professional. Remember, even minor strains or sprains can lead to chronic pain. One source reports that almost 20 percent of people with acute lower back pain eventually develop chronic lower back issues. A certified personal trainer can also assess your form and provide personalized guidance for safe deadlifting.


The deadlift is a powerful exercise, but it demands respect. By prioritizing proper form, incorporating proper warm-up and stretching routines, and focusing on core strength, you can reap the benefits of the deadlift without sacrificing your lower back health. Remember, a safe and controlled lift is always better than a heavy, potentially risky one.

Ready to elevate your performance and ensure your training is as safe as it is effective? Max Performance Physical Therapy can help! They offer personalized physical therapy performance programs to improve your form, core strength, and mobility. Schedule your consultation now and take the first step towards unleashing your full potential.


How long does it take for lower back to recover from deadlifts?

The recovery time for lower back pain deadlifts depends on the severity of the injury. Minor aches and stiffness may resolve within a few days, while more serious injuries may take weeks or even months to heal. It’s important to consult a doctor or physical therapist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan if you experience persistent pain.

How do you know if your lower back pain is serious?

Lower back pain from deadlifts can be a sign of various issues. Here are some red flags that indicate you should seek healthcare professional help:

  • Severe pain and doesn’t improve with rest
  • Pain that radiates down your leg (sciatica)
  • Numbness or tingling in your legs
  • Weakness in your legs
  • Difficulty controlling your bowels or bladder

Are deadlifts worth the risk?

Absolutely. When performed with proper form and correct lifting technique, the benefits of deadlifts in terms of muscle strength, endurance, and muscular development far outweigh the risks. Regular practice, guided by knowledgeable instruction, can ensure safety and effectiveness.

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