Deadlifting hurts your back….?? If so your doing it wrong.. - Clarke Fitness

Deadlifting hurts your back….?? If so your doing it wrong..

The dead lift is the king of exercises within the gym and its being round for centuries. However it is often done wrong and with incorrect form leading to injury.

Time and time again I’ve seen outrageous deadlifts on facebook or youtube were peoples backs are shaped like a bent nail. Firstly I blame them for their stupidity for continuing and thinking that they are doing it right. Secondly I blame the coach or the person standing watching or encouraging this poorly executed lifted. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at some one deadlifting and realise they are doing it wrong.


I know that all lifts won’t be perfect but if you are paying for a coach and  your deadlifting completely wrong, WHY are you a paying them..??? I don’t know you need to ask them.

Above is an example of some of the typical deadlifts I’ve seen, one being awful and the other a good starting point. The aim of this article is to give you tips to get your deadlift right from the bottom position up.


The Grip can be one of two ways depending on the individual. The first involves a normal over hand pronated grip with the second being a mixed grip with a normal pronated and then a supinated grip. This grip can be called the mixed or alternate grip.

The feet should be shoulder width or hip with apart with the bar over the balls of the feet. Hips should be higher than the knees and shoulder blades pulled back and the chest up with the head in neutral position. The weight of the body at this point should be distributed over the mid foot. Shoulders are slightly in front or directly in line with the bar with the hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. The arms are straight with the elbow pointing along the bar. At this point the lifter is in a good position to lift.


Once in a good start position like the one shown above it is very important to squeeze back the shoulder blades tuck the chin so the spine is in a neutral position and brace. Arms locked out and acting like straps. Hamstrings and glutes will be loaded at this stage. Then by driving your feet through the floor your hips and shoulders should raise at the same time taking the bar to an upright position as s as shown in the video demonstrated. Be sure to hip hinge on the way back down and don’t squat. Most people make the mistake of squatting their deadlifts when they should be hip hinging.

Here are some common faults that I have came across.

  1. The hips coming up way to early. This can put a lot of strain on the lower back and lead to injury. It tends to happen when the load gets to heavy. Mostly caused by in active glutes.  The fix for this is either to pull the weight back or the bar can be raised up off the ground to allow less of distance for the bar to be moved. Another cause can be flexibility.
  2. Sitting to far behind the bar. These people tend to be very flexible however all they need is a coaching cue of get your shoulders in line with the bar. (Video below)
  3. Pulling with the arms. I seen lots of people try to pull with the their arms and it doesn’t look good. In the deadlift your arms should act like straps. This is a lower body exercises targeting the legs so why would you try and pull with your arms.
  4. A lack of neuromuscular control can be an issue and sometimes a simple cue can fix it.

The most common fault exhibited by athletes when carrying out the deadlift or an associated variation, is to lift with incorrect posture and thereby suffer a great amount of flexion in the lumbar or thoracic regions of the spine. Possible causes for this eventuality include poor trunk control, particularly in the lower abdominal region as well as around the scapula throughout the eccentric phase of the lift. Poor flexibility in the hamstring muscles can also lead to poor posture when executing a lift. Failure to maintain good posture causes stress to the spinal discs, by pinching the front and leaving a gap at the back, forcing the internal fluids to compress towards the back, and potentially causing herniated discs. In addition, the compression can squeeze the spinal roots of the spinal cord, causing nerve-conditions like lumbago or sciatica.

Continual repetition of “rounded back” deadlifts can also lead to kyphosis of the spine. Kyphosis is usually attributed to slouching. It rarely causes pain, but rounding of the spine can lead to acute injury which in turn will affect training and performance. Most “athletic” sports require good posture and therefore if correct mechanics are exhibited, posture will not be compromised for training purposes or ultimately performance benefit.

The Deadlift has many a variation which in include Romanian Deadlift, Sumo Deadlift, Rack Deadlift. They have the variations to target different aspects of training.

The Deadlift is a lower body exercise that has been round centuries and it will be round long after me and you. However its meant to strengthen the lower back and all of the lower body muscles not injury then.

The best way for you to get feed back is to get a coach who knows how to coach it or to video yourself and get a accredited coach to look at it.

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About the Author Conor Clarke

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