Posted by: Kevin | 2007/08/07

Lower Back Pain

Hi, this is now the 3rd time ive injured my lower back doing Deadlifts. All 3 times ive felt something "move" in my lower back and have difficult bending, picking up something and walking for a day or 2, then slowly day by day the pain will go away. It normally takes about 4 days until Im fine and ready to go to gym again. However, I want to know what is causing this lower back problem of mine? Is it the deadlifts or is it that I just have a lower back problem that needs to be checked? Also, what medication should I take to help heal my back quicker? Thanks.

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Our expert says:
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Hi Kevin

It's almost certainly the technique - remember, when you do the deadlift, a great deal of torque is being placed on the back, it's at least partially responsible for coping with that load and if you are not careful, then it takes up too much of the weight and that puts enormous strain on the back and spine. It's the same sort of analogy as when you pick up a suitcase - you don't reach out for it with your arm straight and try to pick it up. Instead, you stand next to it and use your legs to help you pick up the weight. The point is, if your technique is not ideal, then you have problems. What happens, very briefly, is that if you don't keep your back straight during the movement, then there is a great deal of stress on the spinal discs, forcing the internal fluids to compress towards the back, and potentially causing at least one herniated disc. This is especially true of the lumbar region of the spine, which is designed to bear the bulk of the compressive forces on the upper body (cervical is much higher up, at the neck, so it's the lumbar, not cervical that is most at risk). So the key is to keep the back straight as possible, to lock it up (there are techniques for this, including breathing exercises), and to stabilize the spine using the ab muscles.

And while i don't believe that deadlifts themselves are very dangerous, they are potentially tricky. They are in fact one of the most effective exercises, but if done incorrectly, can be one of the more hazardous, and are therefore one of the more advanced level of exercise. It sounds to me that you are doing them straight off the bat, and with the fact that you now have three previous injuries, there's not only risk, but previous weakness and previous damage there. So all in all, I'd look at alternatives to deadlifts for a while, until your back is properly recovered. The options to consider are the leg curls for the hamstrings, as suggested, and any exercise that supports your back - remember, the deadlift is a compound movement, using all the muscles, and so any specific exercises you can find to target the quads, back etc will be suitable replacements. I think you may be trying the deadlift a bit too soon, given your injury concerns.

Good luck

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Our users say:
Posted by: Sharlene | 2008/02/18

Ek ondervind rugpyn, wat soms voel asof my rug brand en dit voel of my rug "dood" gaan. Wat kan dit wees en is daar enige rede tot kommer?

Reply to Sharlene
Posted by: FitFanatic | 2007/08/07

Hi Kevin

Deadlifts are bad for your back. Whether you have back problems or not, when performing a deadlift, a lot of pressure is put on the lower cervical joints. My recommendation for you would be to avoid deadlifts. Rather do standing leg curls or lying leg curls.

Please take good care of your back!!

Hopefully you won’t have to take medication for your back, rather try to avoid that.

Best of luck!

Reply to FitFanatic

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