How To Deadlift Without Hurting Your Back

The deadlift is one of the most important movements to improve movement patterns, build strength, and increase motor recruit to limit the impact that goes through our spine and finally solve lower back pain. However, when we are learning this movement there are few things that can go wrong that can actually make your back pain worse. In this article we’ll teach you five things to look out for to ensure you are able to deadlift without hurting your back.

How The Deadlift Without Back Pain

Everyday I work with adults over 40, teaching them how to safely and effectively perform the deadlift for less pain and injury as we age. If you haven’t already, be sure to watch our video demonstrating how to perform the basics of the deadlift movement. This will give you a solid understanding of what the movement should look like. 

Also note that in this article we are discussing a kettlebell deadlift. While there will be some slight differences between a barbell deadlift, the kettlebell liift is a much safer way to learn the deadlift movement and where we start all of our clients.

Place Feet On The Outside of the Bell

Don’t line up too far behind the kettlebell. This will cause you to reach too far forward and shift your center of gravity too far forward which will cause back pain when you lift. Line up with your feet on the outside of the bell so when your bend your arms fall directly over the handle.

Example of starting too far behind weight

Keep Your Hips Down, Chest Up

When learning to develop that hamstring tension before the lift, many people will bring their hips too high, causing their chest to fall forward. Lifting from thsi position will stress yoru lower back (especially as you get to heavier weights). Be sure to keep your chest up.

Example of chest falling forward before the lift

Brace Your Abs

People who are flexible or hypermobile sometimes have a hard time controlling their spinal movement as they lift. This looks likeA gentle abdominal brace as you perform the deadlift will lock your spine and pelvis in position to prevent any excess spinal movement.

Example of what too much spinal movement looks like

Extend At Hips And Trunk At The Same Time

When first learning, many people will raise their hips first and then raise their trunk when performing the lift. Because this movement resembles a body roll dance move it has affectionaly be known as the ‘stripper deadlift’.

Example of lifting hips before trunk

Set The Weight Down With Care

Many people will perform the perfect deadlift only to hurt their back when they set the weight back down. To set the weight down, be sure to keep good spinal position with a weighted hinge followed by a bend of the knees to get the weight to the ground.

Setting the weight down with a neutral spine

For more in depth discussion on how to deadlift without hurting your back, be sure to check out the following video:

Learning, understanding, and practicing the deadlift without hurting your back is just one of many ways to limit the impact that goes through our spine and solve pain. For a more complete understanding and answers to low back pain be sure to download our free program ‘Solving Pain With Strength’.

Limited By Back Pain? Get Started With Our Free Program

Solving Pain With Strength: An Approachable, Step-by-Step Strength Program For Adults Limited By Joint Pain

Still struggling with the deadlift? Be sure to check out other articles in our Strength Training For Beginners Series to learn our step-by-step approach to helping adults SAFELY build strength – without stressing their joints.
Work up to the deadlift with these three articles:

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