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Deadlift Alternatives, Low Back Injury

About a month ago I injured my lower back while Deadlifting and Shrugging (bending over to pick up the bar then shrug). I had sharp pains for a couple days and used a heating pad. It seemed to help but I hated not using the deadlift in my workouts, so from a month off I started again yesterday.

I started real light, and worked my way up through 3 sets. By the 4th set, I had added a considerable amount of weight but ended up injuring my lower back again. It’s like a sharp pain right in the lower spine.

This is most likely caused from my form and not using enough legs during the deadlift. My question is, are there any exercises recommended to replace the deadlift, or simply strengthen the lower back so I can help avoid injury in the future.

The deadlift isn’t really a leg exercise. More hip/back. Therefore, I think you’re thinking about your second injury is wrong.

Honestly dude? I’m really afraid to give you low-back specific exercises, because I think you’ll use shitty form and hurt yourself again. So for right now, stick to bodyweight exercises (pushups, planks, crunches, walking lunges, pullups) until you can do a whole bunch of them. Then come back for more instruction.

First, go to a doctor and have your back looked at.

Second, learn good form. I had an epiphany when I read Pavel’s “Power to the People”. Pavel’s stuff is good if somewhat overpriced, but the fact that I learned good deadlift form was worth 100x what I paid for the book.

In a nutshell,

  1. Tense ALL your muscles in preparation for the lift.
  2. SQUEEZE the bar off the floor. Do not lift it. Do not jerk it. SQUEEZE it.
  3. The movement is as much SITTING BACK on your heels as it is coming up. This also keeps your shins vertical(ish) and the bar from rubbing against them.
  4. With any significant weight, the lowering movement should be a controlled drop.

Third, as for other exercises, kettlebell swings are outstanding for strengthening the hams, glutes, and lower back. And if you use good form (again, sitting back on the heels, not squatting straight down) you shouldn’t be likely to injure yourself.

YMMV, but go buy “Power to the People” and read how to do a proper deadlift.

[quote]theopowers wrote:
First, go to a doctor and have your back looked at.

Second, learn good form. I had an epiphany when I read Pavel’s “Power to the People”. Pavel’s stuff is good if somewhat overpriced, but the fact that I learned good deadlift form was worth 100x what I paid for the book.

In a nutshell,

  1. Tense ALL your muscles in preparation for the lift.
  2. SQUEEZE the bar off the floor. Do not lift it. Do not jerk it. SQUEEZE it.
  3. The movement is as much SITTING BACK on your heels as it is coming up. This also keeps your shins vertical(ish) and the bar from rubbing against them.
  4. With any significant weight, the lowering movement should be a controlled drop.

Third, as for other exercises, kettlebell swings are outstanding for strengthening the hams, glutes, and lower back. And if you use good form (again, sitting back on the heels, not squatting straight down) you shouldn’t be likely to injure yourself.

YMMV, but go buy “Power to the People” and read how to do a proper deadlift.[/quote]

Oh, and if the doc tells you not to deadlift, don’t listen. Rest your back, build up with kettlebell swings, then get back at it with good form. I have had plenty of lower back difficulties, but they’re actually better now that I’m deadlifting properly.

Read Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe

[quote]theopowers wrote:
First, go to a doctor and have your back looked at.

Second, learn good form. I had an epiphany when I read Pavel’s “Power to the People”. Pavel’s stuff is good if somewhat overpriced, but the fact that I learned good deadlift form was worth 100x what I paid for the book.

In a nutshell,

  1. Tense ALL your muscles in preparation for the lift.
  2. SQUEEZE the bar off the floor. Do not lift it. Do not jerk it. SQUEEZE it.
  3. The movement is as much SITTING BACK on your heels as it is coming up. This also keeps your shins vertical(ish) and the bar from rubbing against them.
  4. With any significant weight, the lowering movement should be a controlled drop.

Third, as for other exercises, kettlebell swings are outstanding for strengthening the hams, glutes, and lower back. And if you use good form (again, sitting back on the heels, not squatting straight down) you shouldn’t be likely to injure yourself.

YMMV, but go buy “Power to the People” and read how to do a proper deadlift.[/quote]

Good input. Thanks.

IMO if you want to have a long career in bodybuilding drop the deadlifts since you have had problems with it just dont do it any more. THanks to machines(GASP!) they allow you to hit your back as good as deadlift probably even better. Heck if you really want to do some thing similar to deadlift do Rack Pulls or STraight Leg deadlift I know there ment for hamstrings but they do hit the back pretty good.

I have 3 compressed/herniated discs in my lower back that cause me pain (pinched nerve) when I let my core weaken and let the full weight of my upper body rest on my lower spine as opposed to having the spine supported by a strong lower back and abdominals. I injured it carrying heavy boxes up an awkward set of stairs “using imporper form” when I was 18.

That said, I use deadlifts as a main staple in strengthening and maintaining the muscle in my lower back. I even use it as part of my self-rehab when I reinjure my back doing something stupid. With proper form, I never experience pain. At first I believed/was taught that I couldn’t/shouldn’t deadlift due to my back condition but I have come around and now know that, that’s a load of bollocks.

[quote]optheta wrote:
IMO if you want to have a long career in bodybuilding drop the deadlifts since you have had problems with it just dont do it any more. THanks to machines(GASP!) they allow you to hit your back as good as deadlift probably even better. Heck if you really want to do some thing similar to deadlift do Rack Pulls or STraight Leg deadlift I know there ment for hamstrings but they do hit the back pretty good.[/quote]

OR, find out what went wrong, e.g. tight hips, weak core, etc, and fix that problem. Then do other exercises to help strengthen your lower back-if it hurts, doing other exercises besides the deadlift won’t do shit, cause if it hurts to work your lower back, it’s gonna hurt to work it, no matter how you do it.

Then start building up deadlifts again, this is all assuming you have just strained yourself and not herniated a disc or anything. Best of luck with it, injuries are a bitch.

[quote]postholedigger wrote:
That said, I use deadlifts as a main staple in strengthening and maintaining the muscle in my lower back. I even use it as part of my self-rehab when I reinjure my back doing something stupid. With proper form, I never experience pain. At first I believed/was taught that I couldn’t/shouldn’t deadlift due to my back condition but I have come around and now know that, that’s a load of bollocks. [/quote]

+1

I respectfully disagree with optheta. Deadlifts with good form have been a solution to years of lower back problems for me, presumably because they train the ham/glute/lower back/trap complex to work as one unit for strength. Not only do deadlifts strengthen the lower back, they train the rest of the body to HELP the lower back.

If there is a machine out there that trains the calves-hams-glutes-lower back-abs-lats-traps as one synergistic unit, I am not aware of it.

[quote]theopowers wrote:
postholedigger wrote:
That said, I use deadlifts as a main staple in strengthening and maintaining the muscle in my lower back. I even use it as part of my self-rehab when I reinjure my back doing something stupid. With proper form, I never experience pain. At first I believed/was taught that I couldn’t/shouldn’t deadlift due to my back condition but I have come around and now know that, that’s a load of bollocks.

+1

I respectfully disagree with optheta. Deadlifts with good form have been a solution to years of lower back problems for me, presumably because they train the ham/glute/lower back/trap complex to work as one unit for strength. Not only do deadlifts strengthen the lower back, they train the rest of the body to HELP the lower back.

If there is a machine out there that trains the calves-hams-glutes-lower back-abs-lats-traps as one synergistic unit, I am not aware of it. [/quote]

+2

I ruptured my L5-L6 for the third time about 5 or 6 years ago. I have dropped squats, but Rack Pulls, Reverse Hypers and Good Mornings are all staples in my training. Form is crucial with all of these. My back has never felt better.

I would find a powerlifting coach to have a look at your form - you might need to do some ancillary work (eg glutes might not be firing, weak mid section, tight calves).

Good luck.

[quote]Massif wrote:

+2

I ruptured my L5-L6 for the third time about 5 or 6 years ago. I have dropped squats, but Rack Pulls, Reverse Hypers and Good Mornings are all staples in my training. Form is crucial with all of these. My back has never felt better.

Good luck.[/quote]

Thank God I haven’t had to drop my squats but I have to echo that my back has never felt better. Since I started DLing, my back feels strong as hell and the only pain I feel back there is muscle pain after I put it through a beating intentionally.

Also it’s comforting to know there are a lot of us out there who have herniated/ruptured discs. For years after I injured my back, all I heard was “you can’t lift weights now that your back is injured”. I find it ironic that in reality, lifting is what’s now keeping my back from relapsing.

I have inflexible hips, small glutes and my lower back isnt too great. I want to try and start from square one and do light good mornings keeping a good lower back position, supine bridges, body weight hip thrusts and back hypers. For flexibility im going to do the smith machine drill featured in ‘in the trenches vol. 2’ (i think thats the one) and moulding my back to an exercise ball while lowering down into a sissy squat type position and finally foam rolling and static stretching!

hints, tips? thanks