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Can Deadlifts Cause Lower Back Pain?
Can deadlifts cause back pain, specifically lower back pain in the kidney area? Any advice will be appreciated.
Deadlifts just like any other exercise have the potential to cause injury if done incorrectly or if any of the training variables are not appropriate for the individual. There is no such thing as a bad exercise, however, many other aspects may be contraindicated for the individual.
First, it is important to distinguish between a semi-stiff legged deadlift (Romanian deadlift), conventional deadlift (pull starts from the floor and the feet are narrow), and sumo deadlift (feet are wide and grip is inside the legs, there is less of a bending at the hip versus conventional). Depending upon which version you are referring to, there are subtle cues that will help you avoid injury. Let me provide some general tips for any of these versions.
1. The bar should never travel away from the body, the bar should remain in close contact with the body throughout the lift. This cuts down on the stress on the low back because of the reduced lever arm.
2. Concentrate on pushing through the floor with the feet (more accurately the heels). This will allow you to activate the glutes and hamstrings more and feel less in the low back. If you fall forwards your weight is not distributed correctly.
3. Keep the shoulders retracted and depressed. This helps one maintain a neutral arch and prevent from excessive rounding in the back. It also assists in strengthening all the pulling muscles isometrically in the upper back.
4. Never keep the legs completely straight while pulling. At the very end it is alright to straighten out the legs, but not during the decent or initial pull. This causes excessive loading on the low back because the glutes can not be used as efficiently.
If you do not use these and many other techniques correctly you may strain the low back. The pain you are describing may be one or combination of problems. You may have strained the ligaments of the Sacroiliac Joint, and/or pulled the Quadratus Lumborum which is a small low back muscle that could cause major pain. In any event, I would highly recommend you seek out the work of a very skilled deep tissue therapist to investigate your problems and see if they can be quickly remedied. More times than not, a good deep tissue therapist can correct your problems very quickly.