T Nation

Deadlift Lower Back


This was my first time deadlifting, so I had no clue about form and the Powerlifting coach I was with put me on Trap-Bar Deadlifts and told me not to overanalyze it or worry about form, just do the lift.

He slapped on 255 lbs. and told me to lift it. He made me lift 5 sets of 8, and then slapped on 50 more lbs. (305 lbs.) and tried to get me to do one set of 5. I got to two reps, and on the third, my back shifted and I felt a numbness travel down my left leg, like someone had kicked the left side of the mat really hard, making me lose my composure. I couldn't walk, kneel, lay down flat on my back or stand up straight for 15 minutes without pain. When i finally did stand up I was dizzy, and when I sat down my arms kept contracting and my fingers would extend and I would have to flex them to get them to stop. Next day, I had a hard time extending the left leg when walking/kicking as well as slight tingling in my left toes.

Went in to urgent care today and the X-rays showed that there was no spinal compression or fractures, and that it was more than likely a lumbo-sacral muscle sprain or strain, does that sound right to you guys?


Given the information that you have supplied then you have lumbo-sacral trauma for sure but more importantly you have sciatic nerve interference. Hence the issues with your foot and leg and hardly being able to move when this first happened. The Sciatic nerve originates between the L4 L5 vertebrae and passes thru the gluteals and all the way down to the toes. It is the biggest nerve plexus in the body hence the excruciating pain experienced when you injure yourself or simply suffer the affliction of Sciatica. The hand issues are most likely from your traps being over worked and so tense that they too were impeding the nerves to your hand/s.

There are a few questions that need to be asked...

Is this coach certified and insured?
What advice did this guy give you once you went down with this issue?
Have you heard from him since?
Did you pay this guy for all the pain he has inflicted?
Have you spoken to the manager of the facility that this buffoon is working from?

Idiots like this that apparently are driven by ego should be banished from the industry.

As someone that has suffered the affliction of Sciatica for almost 30 years and actually just getting over an attack that has lasted 3 weeks my advice to you is to make sure that you give yourself time to recover from this properly before doing any leg and low back work. One episode of this type is enough for anyone, you certainly do not want this type of injury to be recurring. Seriously, this is not something that you would wish upon your worst enemy.

Two last suggestions... don't EVER go near this guy again and if you have paid him then get your money back...


Sorry about the picture, I don't have a clue how that got there. She is a client that pulled 315 lb off the floor just last night...


Thank you so much for the reply. And your advice definitely will be followed.

I don't know why I didn't bother to look for certification. Very dumb of me.
I found his gym at a site called Powerlifting Watch.
He was cheaper than everybody else and seemed like he was eager in wanting to get me in-- he had called me multiple times after my initial talking to him about one day, at a future date, coming to see him at his gym and maybe joining.

There were only 2 other powerlifting gyms that specialized in the olympic lifts and the powerlifting ones like deadlift, but they were much twice his price. So, I stupidly slapped down the money for a full-week of private sessions.

When I told him throughout the first couple of deadlift sets that I wasn't feeling anything at all in my glutes, or legs when doing it and that it was all concentrated on my lower back-- he said that that was just a "weak point" in my body that, with more and much heavier lifting, would solve itself and eventually go away.

When I couldn't get up to walk he did actually help me in stretching out my body so that I could, though.

Concerning sciatic nerve interference... does it ever go away?

And what is puzzling me is what could possibly be causing interference with it if the spine isn't compressing anything? Isn't that or a herniated disk usually the cause of that? It's hard to imagine a simple muscle sprain or strain causing this.


Scary. It COULD be sciatica. If so, it is likely being irritated by the piriformis muscle, as the sciatic nerve passes either through or below the piriformis. But, it COULD be a lumbar nerve root. A nerve root could possibly be irritated by a tight muscle, or it could be a disc injury. Start with conservative care first: ice and anti-inflammatories, and after the first 48 hours considers manipulation. If the problem resolves within a week or two, you're in pretty good shape. If it persists after a couple weeks of conservative care, an MRI may be in order. It will show soft tissue (disc) details that x-ray doesn't.


I'll be going in for a MRI this monday.

I'm almost positive it is a disc herniation, now.


Did you sign any facility or injury waivers or fill out a health history questionnaire at the very least?. If you have to get MRI's and it turns out to be a herniated disk then you have genuine cause to seek compensation from this guy. Hopefully it is only a soft tissue injury and you come right in a short time... When you say that he helped stretch you out indicates to me that you may be a lucky man and have just suffered a muscle spasm from overworking the muscles of the low back and posterior hip. You are in a tenuous situation tho in that you also have to try and determine what is injury pain and what is DOMS pain .

Are you seeing any improvement in your pain levels, flexibility, or movement patterns since your original post?...Your first session ever of dead lifts should not have seen you lifting that amount of weight for those repetitions ranges, ESPECIALLY seeing as how you were feeling the work in your lower back. That is indication right there that you were not doing the exercise correctly, you should have never been put in that situation..

If it is a soft tissue injury and you rehab and do the right things then there is no reason to be continually suffering from this as long as you are smart about what you do... TRUST ME, the way to overcome muscle weaknesses is NOT to severely overload the muscles ability to perform the exercise properly...

Don't blame yourself for going to this guy and please don't let it put you off olympic or any other kind of lifting for that matter.. Let it be a lesson tho to due your due diligence in the future... :slight_smile:


MRI this Wednesday. First session of physical therapy today. The lady showed me some stretches and thinks I'll be pretty good, but said we won't know for sure without an MRI.

The crazy thing is.... they had me lay facedown down and put these electrodes on my back with a heat pad, called an EMS w/ heat pack (forgot what the EMS) stood for. My stomach was on a pillow with my legs elevated up pushing my stomach into the back of my spine-- so it was kind of painful. When she first started the machine, the tingling sensation was kind of harsh at first, like something was bearing and clawing into. But within minutes of the tingling of this machine and all the pain I had in my back went away. After the session, my numbness almost completely disappeared! I even got some feeling back into my toes which had been shut off ever since my injury!

It probably won't last for too long but this is strange. It was called an Electro Muscle Stimulation. Maybe I should look into buying one of those.


OK, here is the thing, first you can't expect someone who never engaged their glutes in their life to suddenly lift 305 lbs, that is almost 2x my body weight, I am 160lbs.
2nd, when you stand there before your lift, did you engage your glutes prior to the lift? if not, you are bound to have injuries.


Elastin - Are glutes very important while deadlifting? Yes.
Can you tell based on the given information that this was the reason behind/is the key to solving the original poster's injury problems? No.


So sorry for not updating as soon as I should have.

Anyway... MRI confirmed on July 10th-- it is definitely a herniated disk of the L4-L5 region.

As long as I keep good posture and I take my time in going from laying in the bed to standing position in the morning, it appears most of the sciatica has went away. Swimming twice a day for 30 minutes has worked unbelievable wonders.

I still have some tingling in my left big toe, as well as partial foot drop still. Doctor wants me to wait until the 15th to see how things mull over before seeing him again.


How long did it take you before the sciatica left?

On a scale from 1-10 (10 being the most), doing the straight leg test with correct posture (I'm used to slouching) my pain is a 1 or a .5 and lower with sciatica. But if I tilt my head down to look at the ground slightly curving my spine during the straight leg test, i can feel the sciatica kicking back up again.


For some reason the pain has all left when keeping my spine straight.

I can now put my head down and bend my spine while extending my leg. It DOES produce pain but only on a level 3 at most.

I can actually bend over to touch my toes slowly without any pain.

The MOST amount of pain (level 6) comes from going from a seated or laying position to standing.

Going from Seated to standing-- as long as I go slowly-- is a lot better and even aids in my sciatica disappearing for a while. Going from laying to seated to standing is the absolute worst.

Also my pelvic thrust forward to the right or backwards is pretty painful (level 4)


Also my left ankle weakness has went away and I can finally heel walk. I did in front of the doctor this time and he confirmed it. Can't say ankle is at 100%, but 90% is more like it.

I thought it was just me imagining that my ankle was getting stronger at first.. glad to know it wasn't. This is the 6th week btw.


I will keep posting until I make a full recovery-- which according to my doctor should be in another 2.5 months. I will be seeing him again in 3 weeks as he is on vacation. I am not sure if updating like this is against forum rules or not. but wanted to update on the status of my injury.

Sciatica seems to have quite the yo-yo effect but does indeed show trends over time.