There are plenty of misconceptions and debates that go on surrounding the deadlift and it’s association with lower back pain and injury risks.
From an outside view it could be easy to come to the conclusion that deadlifts are bad for your back. Injury rates from the deadlift are higher than any other resistance exercise, and lower back injuries are among the most highly reported injuries in average gym goers. Does that make the deadlift inherently danger? No. It’s still important to remember that even amongst the most elite powerlifters (who lift enormous amounts of weights), injury rates are far lower than sports like rugby, soccer or basketball. Meaning that resistance training as a whole is very safe.
However that being said, it is important to understand how back injuries can occur, when it might be time to alter technique, or even when to give it a break all together.
So why do back injuries occur in the deadlift?
Firstly, due to the nature of gym training, it is impossible to attribute injuries to one exercise alone. However, data does indicate that muscle strains and discogenic injuries are the most common that are associated with deadlifting. Age, injury history, experience, training volume and intensity are all contributing factors to injury, not just when deadlifting, but all forms of exercise.
How much does technique matter?
There is no one perfect technique. If you walked around a gym and watched a hundred people deadlift, they would all move slightly differently, and there would be no way to tell who is more likely to get injured. Finding a movement strategy that is both comfortable and efficient (produce the most force with the least effort) and sticking with that will help reduce potential injury risk.
When might you avoid it all together?
In some instances where you may be dealing with a lower back injury, it could be that no technique feels comfortable and it seems as though deadlifting makes it worse. This is where temporarily avoiding it, loading the area in a different way, then slowly building it back up might be a suitable approach. But avoiding it forever is not the solution.
If you’re still unsure it might be beneficial to seek further assistance from an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and they can help you get back to lifting safely, confidently and pain free. Call us on 5456 1599 for more information.