T Nation

Deadlift and Sharp Shooting Lower Back Pain

Well…Did it again. I had this happen once before but this time feels a bit worse. I most likely pulled too hard on my last dead-lift and cheated a bit but didn’t feel any pain until the day after and now at days two it’s really bad. It hurts to walk and putting on my shoes in the morning is killer. Also for example when I’m on the subway and it shifts suddenly and my back needs to stabilize so I can stand up straight the sharp shooting pain is almost unbearable. I mean, it’s really hard to stand up straight. Feels like someone has a knife in my spine. Anyone have any insight as to what I’ve done? I plan on taking the next few weeks off from squats and I’m not going to deadlift for a few month’s as I feel like any extra weight on my spine would make things worse. The pain is in the immediate lower spine about a few inches up from my tailbone.

I recently had a similar experience. I went to a chiropractor and got some immediate relief, rested it for a while, and tried again only to re-injure myself on the first rep of a warm up set at 135. Back to the chiro, stretching exercises (foam roll glutes and piriformis), substituted hyper extensions and Good Mornings for dead lift, squatted very light, and within about two weeks I am back to normal. I switched to sumo and have been able to dead lift the last two weeks, albeit much lighter.

After the injury, I felt pain when loading the spine (taking it off the rack), at the bottom of the squat, and unloading (putting it in the rack). On deads it just hurt right away pulling.

Good luck.


Did the chiro say what the cause was?

I’m going to go with fix your form

He suspected it was just tight muscles - he told me I had a tight ass (gluteus medius and piriformis to be specific), but he didn’t x-ray it to rule out a disk. I do have mild stenosis so I suspect the tightness was putting pressure on a disk. My pain was just a touch right of my spine and radiated slightly down towards my leg. It would show up at random times too, when I bent from the waist, an awkward angle - it felt like my vertabrae were going to slide apart.

I’m typically leery of chiropractors, but with respect to acute muscle issues, mine is pretty good (he’s a lifter).

More than likely you’ve got some inflammation pushing at your disks. There’s nothing you can really do about it other than rest your spine. It can take months for the inflammation to fully go down. Try not to do any exercises that involve sheer movements along your spine. (Depending on the injury, you may be able to do squats much sooner, since that is predominantly compression rather than sheer force).*

Fortunately, you can do things to improve your deadlift without deadlifting while your back heals. Get your core much stronger. Add in hip thrusts (try glute bridges first to make sure it doesn’t cause pain). Pullups. Pullup hangs (for grip). As your back gets better through in some KB swings (don’t let your back round with them!). And make sure your hip mobility isn’t pushing you into bad form. Oh and strengthen your core (x2).

*I’m not a doctor; I just know a bit about run-of-the-mill back pain.

Yea I saw a PT yesterday and it seems like I bulged a disc again. It’s happened before so I know what to expect. I’ll just have to work around it until it heals again :frowning:

Consider that conventional deadlifting isn’t for you. I dealt with trying to work with deadlifts and squats for years, listening to assholes on the internet saying if you don’t do them then your workout program is useless. Well, I was watching a video of myself deadlifting when one day I noticed a very subtle arch in my lower back (would not have been picked up unless you were looking at a specific angle). I discovered that my bone structure is conducive to my lower back grounding with a normal deadlift ROM and a squat turns into a lower back workout because I have to lean forward to maintain a CG on my heals.

So what do I do?

  1. Wide stance front squat supplemented by the leg press
  2. Trap bar deadlifts supplemented by SLDLs with the bar going just below my knees.