Back Pain and Deadlifts

Dec 18, 2020

Deadlifts are one of the most common causes of an L5 pars defect (or even just tweaking your back!). BUT this is often due to poor positioning, over extension or improper form.

I hurt my back 5 years ago due to poor positioning and bracing during heavy lifts.

After a session of heavy deadlifts and squats I started having intense back pain. I saw a few doctors and ended up having a series of treatments. I had an epidural, facet injections, SI joint injections, PRP, nerve blocks, dry needling and about a year of weekly physical therapy.

With the help of my therapist, I worked haaard on mobility, posture, core strength, glute strength and breath work. I eventfully went back to lifting, however I did modify my deadlifts.

I switched from conventional deadlifts to trap bar/hex bar deadlifts.

But why?

The trap bar deadlift offers a similar pulling variation that can target many of the same muscle groups as the conventional barbell. But the trap bar has been shown to DECREASE the amount of spinal loading and stress on the lumbar vertebrae, specifically due to increased back/torso angle and knee flexion.

SO, trap bar = ability to mitigate risk of injury to the lumbar spine, especially for those with prior injury.

I’m not encouraging anyone with a previous back injury to jump right back into deadlifts.

But here’s my argument for the trap bar if you do decide to return to deadlifts. It allows for more flexibility in the movement, doesn’t require a mixed grip, is easier to learn, allows for higher velocity and higher power output, AND is safer for a lot of people, especially post injury.

*The only exception would be training for terminal hip extension. Conventional deadlift would be a better option, though hip thrusts may be an even better option for this.*

All of that said, you need to address weaknesses and posture AND properly re-pattern these movements first!!