Returning to Deadlifting After Injuring Your Lower Back

Deadlifting is a great way to build strength and muscle mass in the lower body, but it can also be risky if proper form is not used. Unfortunately, lower back injuries are not uncommon when performing deadlifts. If you’ve recently injured your lower back during a deadlift at the gym, don’t worry. With the right approach, you can return to deadlifting and enjoy its benefits once again.

Step 1: Rest and Recover
The first and most important step in returning to deadlifting after a lower back injury is to rest and recover. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may need to take a break from deadlifting for several weeks. During this time, it’s important to focus on recovering and building up strength in your lower back. The type of injury will influence the early stages of rehabilitation so it is important to visit a health professional to receive a correct diagnosis of your back injury.

Step 2: Strengthen Your Hips
After your lower back has had time to heal, it’s important to focus on strengthening your hips. Your hips play a key role in deadlifting, and if they are weak, your lower back will be forced to compensate, increasing your risk of injury. Hip strengthening exercises like hip thrusts, glute bridges, and clamshells can help to build strength in the muscles surrounding your hips. These exercises can be done with bodyweight or with resistance bands.

Step 3: Improve Hip Mobility
Good hip mobility is crucial for deadlifting because it allows for proper alignment and optimal force transfer during the movement. Poor hip mobility can lead to compensations in other areas of the body, such as the lower back, which can increase the risk of injury. In addition, limited hip mobility can also result in reduced power output, making it harder to lift heavier weights. Therefore, it is important to prioritise hip mobility exercises in your training routine to improve your deadlift performance and reduce the risk of injury.

Step 4: Strengthen Your Core
In addition to strengthening your hips, it’s also important to strengthen your core. Your core muscles help to stabilise your spine during deadlifts, reducing your risk of injury. Exercises like planks, dead bugs and bicycle crunches can help to strengthen your core. These exercises can also be performed several times per week.

Step 5: Correct Your Hip Hinge and Deadlifting Technique
When you’re ready to start deadlifting again, it’s important to focus on proper technique. Correcting your hip hinge and deadlifting technique can help to reduce your risk of injury and improve your overall performance. To practice your hip hinge, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Then, hinge forward at your hips, keeping your back straight and your chest up. Your hips should move back as you hinge forward, and your knees should stay in the same position. When deadlifting, start with a light weight and focus on proper technique. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, and your toes should be pointed slightly outward. When you lift the weight, keep your back straight, your chest up, and your hips down. Make sure to engage your core muscles and use your legs to drive the weight up.

Step 6: Increase Weight Slowly
Finally, it’s important to increase weight slowly when returning to deadlifting after a lower back injury. As you start to add weight, make sure to focus on proper technique and form. Don’t let your ego get in the way, and don’t rush the process. It’s better to progress slowly and avoid re-injury than to push yourself too hard and end up back at square one.

In conclusion, returning to deadlifting after a lower back injury takes time and patience. It’s important to focus on recovering, strengthening your hips and core, and correcting your hip hinge and deadlifting technique. Remember to increase weight slowly and focus on proper form, and you’ll be back to deadlifting in no time. And always remember, if you’re feeling unsure or have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask a trainer or coach for guidance.

If you have injured your lower back deadlifting and are not sure how to begin your rehabilitation or your lower back is still nagging after several weeks after returning to deadlifting, book an appointment now with one of our team members and let’s get you back to being pain free and doing what you love most.

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Written by Nick Dimos (Physiotherapist)