If you regularly suffer with bouts of back pain, you may find that it often occurs if you’re a regular gym-goer during exercises like squats or deadlifts. While these exercises can be fantastic for lower body strength, if you do have a back problem sadly it’s one of the first exercises you’ll start to experience pain if you’re not using correct form. Since they are difficult exercises to get right, and they can compress the spine when done incorrectly, it’s quite important that you consult with a personal trainer to monitor your form, have someone knowledgeable to spot your form, or refrain from those particular exercises entirely. With that said, there are certain adjustments you can make with deadlifts to make them safer and more manageable.
A deadlift can work the whole body, so it may be normal to experience tiredness or weakness in your back a day or two after training. But you shouldn’t find it difficult to move, twist or bend over – if it does there’s likely something amiss with your form. Deadlifts should predominantly work the glutes and hamstrings, but they will also work your lower back which can be fantastic if you do suffer with back pain frequently as it will help to strengthen the region to protect against injury. There is a point when you’ll have to identify, if you are experiencing pain in your back while doing deadlifts, is this pain a normal aching from exercise or is it a deeper pain that could be a sign you’ve pushed it a little bit too far. If it’s the latter, you’ll likely feel this pain around the area the waistband of your trousers would usually sit. You may be more prone to deeper pain if you’re training at nearly your maximal lift ranges – for example if you’re aiming for a personal best or you’re pushing the boundaries of the weights you usually lift, you may want to be more careful if you’re prone to back pain.
Deep Spinal Pain Deadlifting
When you’re pushing weights that are higher, or doing one or two max repetitions with much higher weights, this is generally when your form tends to go out the window and you’re more likely to get some more deeper spinal pain. When you’re doing this type of exercise you’ll need to lift slowly and pay attention to how you’re feeling the next day. If you’re experiencing pain the following day, you’ll need to establish if it’s muscular pain that is going after one or two days? If yes, that’s perfectly fine and is most likely delayed onset muscle soreness. But if it’s not, it might be worth seeing a specialist for your back pain to evaluate your spine, or having a session with a personal trainer to evaluate your technique. Make sure you’re not lifting with a rounded back, this goes for anything in life not just deadlifting, as although it seems like a natural thing to occur it can cause a lot of compression on the discs which could eventually lead to slipped, bulging or herniated discs. Likewise, you need to make sure you’re not putting the bar too far away from you to begin with, as if the bar is too far forward it will put a lot of stress on your lower back and make it much more difficult to perform the exercise with correct form.
Different Grips for Deadlifting
Lastly, one thing that will help you to avoid overdoing it with deadlifts is to alter your grip to limit the amount of weight you can lift. A lot of people aiming for PBs in weightlifting alter their grip to an unsymmetrical split grip on the bar. This means that while one hand gripping the bar will be facing up, the other will face down. While this can help you to lift higher weights, it will not allow you to lift in a balanced way. Your hands and grip are a really good, built-in control mechanism in your body – and they will give up before your back does because they’re generally weaker. Switching your grip to having both hands facing down, called a double over-hand grip, will effectively eliminate the imbalances lifting unevenly can cause. A double over-hand grip will also allow you to strengthen your grip, which may be the reason you chose to split it in the first place! This will also mean that the rest of your body: your lats, lower back, glutes and hamstrings will be pulling in a balanced manner, rather than twisting which a split grip can cause.
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