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 Get rid of back pain by improving your deadlift!

Deadlifts are a full body, complex exercise. We’re talking about conventional deadlifts. You’re using your back, arms, core, quads, glutes and hamstrings all in one move! As far as exercises that give you the most bang for your buck, deadlifts are one of the best. 

However, we see many people who have trouble with or even all-out avoid deadlifts because of back pain. We see this even more than people avoiding or having issues with squats. Our take, though, based on a lot of experience and from knowledge of human body mechanics, the key shifts that fix your deadlift will also help to fix your back pain.

So, instead of avoiding deadlifts because they hurt your back (or you’re scared they will), we challenge you to fix your back pain for good with these deadlift tips!

The complexity of a proper deadlift can really be a challenge for some people, especially those with disengaged glutes and hamstrings and tightness in their hips. Getting into a proper hinge position and engaging the glutes and hamstrings while they’re in a stretched position can be really challenging.

Fix your deadlifts, fix your back pain

Maybe you’ve hurt your back in the past deadlifting, or just scared to take the risk. We also often see people who tend towards back pain, and are hesitant to even give them a try. 

If that’s you, you’re not alone. Many people either avoid or don’t do deadlifts because they experience back pain. However, we believe that, apart from major injuries or medical issues, everyone should be deadlifting. Deadlifts challenge you metabolically, build muscle and your nervous system capacity.

Fixing the mechanics of your deadlift can also not only resolve back pain related to deadlift but resolve chronic back pain as well! This is because through fixing your deadlift you’ll teach your body how to hinge at the hip and utilize your glutes and hamstrings more effectively, which will take the pressure off your back. 

We’ve worked with many clients and resolved their back pain by fixing their hip hinge and muscle activation patterns through teaching the deadlift.  

Need more PROOF?

Take one of our recent clients, who came to us with general health & fitness goals. He had good mechanics and movement in his hips, but struggled to feel his glutes and hamstrings at the bottom of the deadlift. Thus, he was feeling some low back pain after deadlifts. After working on this for a few months, he was able to add 100 lbs to his max deadlift!! 

How did we help him do this? Well, he had dedicated himself to our Power-building program, geared towards strength goals, and was making a lot of gains. Still, he was struggling with low back pain after deadlifts. After a bit of work, and the tips below, he was able to easily add that extra 100 lbs to his lift and his back felt great!

Here are some of our favorite tips to help eliminate back pain and fix your deadlift technique:

  1. Learn to activate your glutes & hamstrings at the bottom, before you lift off the floor
  2. Pull the slack out of the bar before you lift
  3. Squeeze your lats & pull your shoulders down and back 
  4. Think about squeezing your legs together, as opposed to pushing your hips forward, as you extend your hips to straight at the top. DO NOT overextend and stick your hips out in front of you

The biggest thing is remembering that you control the muscles you use by how you think about a lift. What these tips aim to do is help you to think about the lift in a certain way so you use the right muscles, namely so you STOP using the back muscles exclusively to lift the bar. 

Deadlifts do utilize your back muscles but they are not solely an isolated back movement. If you look at all the muscles used when you deadlift, you use more muscle mass from leg muscles than you do from back muscles. This is why we consider deadlifts more of a leg exercise than back exercise. 

By utilizing the tips above, you will be using your glutes & hamstrings more effectively to take pressure off the lower back. You will optimally load your spine in a neutral position by setting the shoulders back and squeezing the lats rather than relying solely on the extensors. And you’ll utilize your adductors, core and glutes to lock out at the top rather than just the glutes and hip drive. Lastly, by avoiding overextending your hips you’ll keep your lower spine in a safer position.

Give these a try & let us know how they worked for you!

Still having issues after you try these? Try the hex or trap bar deadlift. The positioning of the weight is more centered over midline and allows for a neutral grip, both of which help you to keep more weight in the hips and keep the shoulders back. 


Live in the Portland, OR, area, want to learn about all of these techniques and more in-person and have us personally assess you? We hold workshops at our Milwaukie, OR, location. Stay tuned HERE so you can sign up for the next deadlift workshop. LINK TO EVENTS PAGE ON BLOG

Better yet, sign up for our custom programming and we’ll design a program just for you, your challenges and your specific needs and goals! LINK TO TRAINERIZE CUSTOM WORKOUT PACK HERE.

Not sure how we can help you? Get our Price & Fit Guide HERE: LINK TO BUTTON ON MAIN WEBSITE WITH PRICE & FIT GUIDE

Need personalized, 1-on-1 help & customized workout plans to get the results you want? Click here to schedule a free Clarity Call with us to learn more about our $30/mo Strength Society online coaching group! It’s like a personal trainer in your pocket.

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