If a person performs a deadlift incorrectly, they may develop lower back pain. A person can help prevent lower back pain by lifting with correct form. This helps to avoid placing too much strain on the lower back.

A deadlift is a type of weightlifting exercise that aims to strengthen the back, glutes, and hamstrings. During a deadlift, a person lifts a loaded barbell or bar off the ground to thigh level. They do this mostly using leg and hip muscles along with the large muscle groups in the body.

During a deadlift, a person’s hips hinge backward so they can lower themselves down and pick up the weight. They then lift the weight to the height of their thighs before putting it back down again.

A person’s back should be straight throughout a deadlift. If a person lifts incorrectly and places too much strain on their back, they may develop lower back pain.

A person performing a deadlift-1.Share on Pinterest

The lumbar spine is the lower part of a person’s spine. Deadlifts can place strain on the lumbar spine and the muscles in the lower back.

When a person carries out a deadlift effectively and correctly, the lower back muscles should help stabilize the body. They should not be doing all of the work.

However, if a person carries out a deadlift incorrectly, they may cause these muscles to do most of the work, which can cause damage and lower back pain.

According to a 2022 study, certain lower back movements during deadlifts can increase a person’s risk of developing lower back pain. These movements include:

  • flexing (rounding)
  • twisting
  • side bending
  • hyperextending (arching)

If a person lifts weights that are too heavy when carrying out a deadlift, they may also place excessive strain on their lower back. This excessive strain can contribute to lower back pain.

The deadlift movement has three main phases. These phases are:

  • the setup
  • the pull
  • the lockout

Below are the steps of the setup:

  1. Stand with the feet hip-width apart. Then, rest the shins against the bar.
  2. Hinge at the hips and sink into the glutes, keeping the spine extended and the chest lifted upward.
  3. Grip the bar with one hand facing palm-up and the other facing palm-down.
  4. Squeeze the bar and sink back into the hips. While doing this, pull the back into the hips. Then, engage the lats to keep the lower back stable.

These are the steps of the pull:

  1. During the pull, push the feet into the floor to straighten the legs.
  2. Lift the chest while lifting the weight off the floor.
  3. While standing, pull back on the knees and push the hips forward.

Below are the steps of the lockout:

  1. After lifting the weight, hold the shoulders back and keep the spine straight.
  2. Pause for a moment before lowering the weight to the ground.
  3. When lowering the weight, slowly push the hips backward. During this move, keep the back long and the chest lifted into the air.
  4. When lowering the weight, use the thigh muscles to resist the downward pull of gravity.
  5. Once the weight is on the floor, pause and reset the hips before repeating the deadlift.

Possible treatment options for back lower pain after exercising include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These medications can treat pain, among other things. Ibuprofen is a type of NSAID that people may take to reduce lower back pain after deadlifts.
  • Ice packs: A person may wish to wrap an ice pack in a towel to protect their skin. They will then apply the ice pack to their back where they experience the pain. This can help:
  • Heat packs: Heat packs may also help reduce back pain. A person may wrap a heat pack or a hot water bottle in a towel and place it on their skin to reduce lower back pain.
  • Remaining active: A person should try to remain active and continue with their daily activities to help reduce their lower back pain. This can include performing stretches and exercises to strengthen the lower back.

Physical therapy is also a good treatment option for people with lower back pain. A physical therapist can help a person optimize their quality of life by improving their ability to move and function.

A physical therapist will examine the person and develop a treatment plan that aims to:

  • reduce or manage pain
  • restore function
  • prevent disability

Physical therapy treatments may include:

  • certain exercises
  • massage treatments
  • treatments that make use of:

Evidence suggests that deadlifts can be a useful exercise to help a person deal with back pain.

Studies show that deadlift exercises may help decrease pain intensity and increase activity for most people with lower back pain.

Below are some other exercises a person can use to improve lower back function and relieve lower back pain.

Wall roll

The wall roll is an exercise that a person performs against a wall.

These are the steps to carry out when performing a wall roll:

  1. Stand with the feet away from the wall and lean forward into the plank position with both elbows resting on the wall.
  2. Brace the abdominal muscles.
  3. While resting on the balls of the feet, pivot and pull one elbow off the wall, twisting the body to face sideways.
  4. Replace the elbow onto the wall and repeat the motion in the other direction using the other arm.

It is important not to move the spine while the movement occurs.

Clamshell exercise

This exercise helps retrain the glutes, which is important for lower back health.

These are the steps to carry out when performing clamshell exercises:

  1. Lie on the side and place the upper hand on the hip.
  2. Bend the knees slightly.
  3. Keeping the heels together, open the knees like a clamshell before closing them again.
  4. Repeat this movement a number of times for the duration of the exercise.

Side bridge

The side bridge is a good exercise for strengthening the lateral muscles, which help stabilize the spine.

These are the steps to carry out when performing a side bridge:

  1. Lie on the side of the body and place the elbow nearest to the floor under the shoulder.
  2. Elevate the hips and knees off the ground and remain like this for 20 seconds or more.
  3. Repeat this the desired number of times.

Bird dog

This exercise is an effective way to strengthen the back muscles.

These are the steps to carry out when performing a bird dog:

  1. Begin on all fours with the hands on the floor directly under the shoulders. The knees should also be under the hips.
  2. Then extend the right arm forward, and at the same time extend the left leg backward.
  3. Hold this position for around 7–8 seconds before returning to the starting position.
  4. Then repeat this with the other arm and leg.

Glute bridge

This exercise can work out a person’s glutes and improve their core stability.

These are the steps to carry out when performing a glute bridge:

  1. Lie on the floor on the back. Ensure that the feet are flat on the ground and shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift the hips off the ground and hold this position for 3–5 seconds.
  3. Then, lower the hips back to the ground and rest before repeating this exercise a number of times.

A deadlift is a weightlifting exercise that helps a person build muscle in their back, glutes, and hamstrings.

If a person performs a deadlift incorrectly, it can exert added strain on their back. This can cause a person to develop lower back pain.

It is important that a person avoids flexing, twisting, side bending, and hyperextending their back during deadlifts. This is because these movements can increase a person’s chances of developing lower back pain.

A person can treat lower back pain with NSAIDs, ice packs, heat packs, exercise, or physical therapy.