T Nation

Deadlift Precautions?

I have had two severe episodes of lumbar disc prolapse - 11 and 18 years ago. There is probably very little disc material left in at least 2 of my lumbar discs. I am 54 years old and have been training seriously with weights for over 3 years. What precautions would you recommend for my practice of the deadlift; i.e. Should I be doing it at all? Is there an upper limit to the weight I should use? Are there any variations to the technique that would make it safer to practice?

I have been doing core work regularly. I have recently added Romanian deadlifts to my program, using fairly low weigh with gradual increments and strict attention to form. This seems to be making my back feel better/stronger. I am curious about trying the ‘real thing’, but also concerned about causing injury to my already compromised back.

Nobody is going to advise you to deadlift with that medical history. At least, nobody who cares about you.

I’ld stick with Rom DL.

Uh, that came out wrong. I’m not saying you’re not fit anymore to deadlift.
I’m just saying nobody is taking any risks in advising you to deadlift.
Why don’t you start out by deadlifting from pins, and gradually increase the rom, then increase the weight.
And back-off when your body starts to protest.

I’m with wreckless on this one.

I read your post and wanted to respond, but I really can’t think of anything to say.

I mean, if you aren’t going to be competing or anything, there doesn’t seem to be any good reason to push your luck.

Building some back muscles is probably a good thing, but you won’t need to drop into low rep ranges and heavy weights to achieve that – especially compared to all the sedentary people in the world who never do any back work at all.

I think you are perhaps in a good place right now… keeping the back from atrophying at what appears so far to have been a safe level of exertion. I can’t see anyone recommending you take any risks at this point.

There, several paragraphs of a whole lot of nothing for you!

[quote]Wreckless wrote:
Why don’t you start out by deadlifting from pins, and gradually increase the rom, then increase the weight.
And back-off when your body starts to protest.[/quote]

Thanks Wreckless; that seems like a good idea - to start off with restricted ROM with low weight and gradually increase both ROM and weight.

I have been doing back hyperextensions and leg extensions for over a year now, and have recrently added cable woodchops since my wife and I got a cable cross-over for the home gym in February.

I find that I get bored with a limited choice of exercises and that I feel better and am able to maintain more interest by incorporating a variety of movements. Hence my recent interest in the deadlift.

Interesting, my partner had a tear in back and is trying to come back. His doctor said if he rehabs like we tell him he will be pulling over 700 soon.

Core work is fine, do not lose it. We do bridges between benches, several forms of crunches, incline back raises, side bends with dumbbells and cables, wheel work. Check out the Allen Core Wheel, it can do wonders.

Last year my SI was a problem. I rehabbed it and in last cycle set some pr’s in the deadlift. Hey I am 56 and do this stuff. Main thing is work closely with your doctor if they know athletes. If they do not they can do more harm than good. Also find a good chiro who has been a lifter, or works with them.

[quote]Tony Reid wrote:
I have had two severe episodes of lumbar disc prolapse - 11 and 18 years ago. There is probably very little disc material left in at least 2 of my lumbar discs. I am 54 years old and have been training seriously with weights for over 3 years. What precautions would you recommend for my practice of the deadlift; i.e. Should I be doing it at all? Is there an upper limit to the weight I should use? Are there any variations to the technique that would make it safer to practice?

I have been doing core work regularly. I have recently added Romanian deadlifts to my program, using fairly low weigh with gradual increments and strict attention to form. This seems to be making my back feel better/stronger. I am curious about trying the ‘real thing’, but also concerned about causing injury to my already compromised back.
[/quote]

[quote]Tony Reid wrote:

I have been doing back hyperextensions and leg extensions for over a year now, and have recrently added cable woodchops since my wife and I got a cable cross-over for the home gym in February.

[/quote]

You should read EC’s locker room thread. He says in a recent post “Don’t ever do HYPERextensions again. Back extensions done properly (to neutral spine) are good; hyperextensions are a big no-no.”

I would think that advice is particularly applicable to someone with your injury history.

BTW, if you haven’t already got it, I highly recommend the Magnificent Mobility DVD.

PS shrug bar deadlift might be better. Also consider doing single leg DL. They are extremely tough even with light weight.

[quote]sharetrader wrote:

BTW, if you haven’t already got it, I highly recommend the Magnificent Mobility DVD.[/quote]

Thanks, sharetrader. I have just ordered it!

[quote]Tony Reid wrote:
sharetrader wrote:

BTW, if you haven’t already got it, I highly recommend the Magnificent Mobility DVD.

Thanks, sharetrader. I have just ordered it![/quote]

You’re welcome. When you get it you will thank EC and MR!

I’ve been reading Stuart McGill’s Ultimate Back Fitness and Peformance (http://www.backfitpro.com)-- and it is a very good book. I’m only a couple of chapters into it, but the first chapter deals with a few issues that might be relative to you.

The book has a decent amount of technical language, but I’ve seen it recommended on this site many times. Based on what I see so far, I would recommend it as well.

Definately stay away from the DL’s. Or just go light.

I’m in the same condition and hurt myself with squats and DL’s.

[quote]AgentOrange wrote:
I’ve been reading Stuart McGill’s Ultimate Back Fitness and Peformance (http://www.backfitpro.com)-- and it is a very good book. I’m only a couple of chapters into it, but the first chapter deals with a few issues that might be relative to you.

The book has a decent amount of technical language, but I’ve seen it recommended on this site many times. Based on what I see so far, I would recommend it as well.[/quote]

I recently got this book and have started reading it, still on Chapter 2. I was impressed by McGill’s comments that back pain and discomfort can be eliminated or reduced by maintaining fitness and ability to stabilise. His observation that symptoms can often return after an athlete has stopped training is good motivation never to quit! Not to mention the fact that several competititve (read ‘younger’) athletes have achieved world records in weightlifting following back injury.

To quote: ‘They stated that a back injury forced them to manitain perfect lifting form because they realized that if they lost the “locked” spine they would become re-injured in an instant.’ Which also reminds me of his graph depicting how training for rehabilitiation is similar to the training of an elite athlete: the ‘dose’ of exercise (load and volume) required to achieve adaptation is generally very close to that which can cause an injury: the margin of safety is very thin. Something I often forget!

[quote]Tony Reid wrote:
AgentOrange wrote:
I’ve been reading Stuart McGill’s Ultimate Back Fitness and Peformance (http://www.backfitpro.com)-- and it is a very good book. I’m only a couple of chapters into it, but the first chapter deals with a few issues that might be relative to you.

The book has a decent amount of technical language, but I’ve seen it recommended on this site many times. Based on what I see so far, I would recommend it as well.

I recently got this book and have started reading it, still on Chapter 2. I was impressed by McGill’s comments that back pain and discomfort can be eliminated or reduced by maintaining fitness and ability to stabilise. His observation that symptoms can often return after an athlete has stopped training is good motivation never to quit! Not to mention the fact that several competititve (read ‘younger’) athletes have achieved world records in weightlifting following back injury.

To quote: ‘They stated that a back injury forced them to manitain perfect lifting form because they realized that if they lost the “locked” spine they would become re-injured in an instant.’ Which also reminds me of his graph depicting how training for rehabilitiation is similar to the training of an elite athlete: the ‘dose’ of exercise (load and volume) required to achieve adaptation is generally very close to that which can cause an injury: the margin of safety is very thin. Something I often forget!
[/quote]

Awesome – that was one of the main parts of Chapter 1 that I was referring to. I’m still trying to find time to read past Chapter 2 as well.

Just based on what I saw in Chapter 1, I think this book was an awesome investment.