T Nation

Lower Back Issues with Deadlifting


Hi guys,

First, lower back issues run in the family. My uncle was a big lifter and when he turned 35 he had multiple surgery for the lower back. All in vain. He's 45 now and can barely drive his car. He also got depressed by being unable to workout and lose all his hard earned muscle.

If tried to deadlift and squat in my younger days, but it always resulted in a lower back pain that extended to my butt and legs.

Since a few months I've started to squat again, work the abs more and doing light deadlifts.

Now, up till 225 pounds, my deadlifts are ok. I use strict form (in everything I do).

But every single time I try to go heavier, the pain comes back... :-(( I'm a 240+ lbs, 30 years old guy with almost 9 years of workout experience and not getting over 225lbs deadlifts is rather embarrassing. Needless to say, my back squat is also a problem.

What should I go? Lower the weights and keep doing them until all feels right? Or am I simply ruining my back?

Please some advice!



see a dr.



Keep us up dated on what he/she says.


Yeah, maybe I should find a good sports dr. My current female dr doesn't even know the term deadlift :slight_smile:

I'll try to make an appointment the next week and will post the results.



Try looking for a chiropractic/physical therapy center or check with nfl trainers to see what doctors they use.


This is a tough one without knowing exactly what the problem is. The lumbar spine and surrounding musculature can be quite complex. You not only need a chiropractor but one who can correct the problem. Now I'm obviously biased here because I belong to this professional organization, but I recommend that you go to idealspine.com and find a certified doctor in your area. Best of luck.


And if you want to continue deadlifting, use sumo stance. Period.


second on the sumo and have you tried front squats heavy?


Post some pictures of you just standing. I find that some people who have comparatively long torso's to their limbs will have lumbar issues when deadlifting. I call them longspines. If you're a longspine then you need to focus on your uprightness in the DL and, as said above, work the sumo stance. I would LOVE to see a video of your deadlift from the side or back 45' angle. I bet my chimeny that you have a huge moment armgetting past the kneecaps of your DL.

Also, trap bar deadlift are FTW if you happen to be a long spine.



LBP with radiating leg pain into the butt and leg is usually indicative of a nerve root irritation due to a herniation. See a practitioner, either Chiro or PT, that does McKenzie work. The letters M.D.T. usually signify this. You can also buy the book "Treat Your Own Back" by Robin McKenzie. It outlines easy, at home exercises but also states that initially you should be evaluated by a professional. Lying in a prone (on your belly) position, try to press up only using your arms and keeping your hips "glued" to the floor. This SHOULD reproduce YOUR pain. Continue to do these modified "push ups" if this REPRODUCES YOUR PAIN. If the pain starts to LEAVE your legs and move into your back or closer to your spine then you are on the right track. If the pain gets WORSE after 10-20 repetitions or moves DOWN your leg closer to your foot then discontinue the exercises and get a professional opinion. I hope this helps, but either way get a professional opinion!



I've found sumo deads just aggrevate my lower back while traditional deads feel fine.

I'm not trying to argue or threadjack I'm just curios as to why?


Thanks for the answers.

To me it feels like I have to reach far deeper to get the bar from the ground. When I see vids from guys deadlifting they don't need to start as deep as I have to. Even with 20kg (45lbs) plates.

I live in Europe so organisations like that are named differently here. But I made an appointment. I'll keep you guys updated.



I have a similar issue. I have degenerative disc disorder. I have to continually stretch my lower back and perform only Sumo Lifts. Not a big deal since I can heavier with those anyway.


use the fucking search function. back pain when deadlifting? wow, you're not the first kiddo!

and fuck seeing a Dr. unless they specialize in sports medicine. at your age any other Dr. will cover their ass by telling you to find something else to do with your time.


I went to an Osteopath a few years back for fucking up my back, I was diagnosed with Spondylolisthesis. The doc gave me two options, pain medication or surgery. I did neither and still DL :slight_smile:


reach far deeper? sounds like mobility issues...tight hams and immobile hips.


I would guess that you are using too much back, squeeze your legs together to start the pull and keep the back still until the bar is over your knees.