I've been experiencing a nagging pain in my lower back lately. The pain is just above the "sacrum" (according to this chart: http://www.public-action.com/SkyWriter/WacoMuseum/library/bones2.html). It's right below the lower back muscles, but above my glutes; it mainly hurts when I bend at the waist. I can't explain any better, but hopefully that's enough info.
Anyway, I worked my way up to a working weight of 350 lbs+ for deadlifts recently, and this pain has been giving me hell; after my previous deadlift workout, I could hardly bend for 3 days. It's not the pleasant lower back pain I get from a good posterior chain workout, either; it's kind of unpleasant, and I'm worried I might be causing permanent damage.
I've experienced similar pains previously, albeit only on the left side, after doing hangs for spinal decompression.
What could be causing this? Should I avoid heavy deadlifts for now, switching to good mornings or machines? Will improving my lower back mobility, and mobility overall, help with this?
I'd really appreciate some help on this, if anyone could spare a few minutes.
Lower back mobility will hurt, not help, and should be avoided.
You are probably injuring disc(s) in your lower back when you deadlift, like say L5-S1.
I cannot emphasize enough that when you experience back pain related to lifting, you should STOP what is causing the injury, let/help it heal, figure out a different way to achieve your lifting/physique goals either through different technique or different exercise selection.
You mention "bending at the waist," and that's probably your problem right there. Don't bend at the waist. In your deadlift, the movement should come from the hips; the lumbar spine should be stable. Go look at Eric Cressey's article. Work on that technique if you are going to deadlift. Make sure your hip mobility and spinal stability are good. Video your deadlift and get feedback on it.
Hi G87, I am also facing the same problem. I showed to two sports medicine guys and both are of the opinion that this is due to Facet Joint Lock syndrome. He is giving me facet joint mobilisation sessions (one every week) which are a relief in itself. He has asked me to stop doing any forward bending movements for 4-6 weeks with a gap of 1 week after 3 weeks of training. Plus the usual Hamstrings stretches. I have finished two sessions and the pain has lowered by almost 40-50%. But he also told that it will take time to return to normal heavy training.
Hope this helps. Do let me know the diagnosis of your doc. Happy Training
Thanks, I'll read up on that syndrome, and probably switch around my forward bending movements.
I don't know what kind of doctor I could get in Russia who'd be able to help me out. Sports medicine as well as medicine overall is very outdated here, and every doctor I come across just keeps telling me about how bad lifting is for you. So I'm pretty much on my own here :(.
Yep, sounds rational :). I'll be trying good mornings and machines, then.
Just to clarify, I don't bend at the waist; at least, that's what I always thought! I'm going to improve my deadlift technique before DLing again, take a month break from deadlifts, and see where that takes me. Thanks a lot for the tips, I really don't want to fuck up my back :(.
Is there any chance at all I'm just not built to deadlift this heavy, and should switch to more reps?
I wouldn't do good mornings either when you're getting the kind of pain you're describing.
This is what I think. If you try to really push your numbers on the deadlift without meticulous coaching on safe technique, you are going to recruit the low back muscles a lot, putting more stress on the spinal structures than they can safely take. If you think about the physics of the movement, if you keep your lumbar spine neutral, the erectors won't contribute much to the pull. Even though the glutes and hips are potentially strong muscles, you won't be able to pull as much with just the hips as you would if you also get some contribution of the low back. So when you try to pull as much as you possibly can, your brain is automatically going to get that contribution from the low back.
So there's safer technique, and there's the biggest possible numbers, and they tend to be mutually exclusive.
I can't say anything about whether you are not "built" to deadlift heavy. But more reps with less weight could cause even more damage, because with accumulating fatigue often comes breakdown of technique. If you get the same degree of movement causing stress on the spine with the last several reps at 225, that could cause even more damage than one such rep at 350.
If you are going to deadlift at all, pay meticulous attention to your technique, and stick to technique that is safest for the spine EVERY millisecond of EVERY rep you do. This is neutral spine, movement and drive from the hips. This safe technique of deadlifting is probably not the best choice for back development if that is your goal, so you may want to look for other movements to develop your back without injuring it.
Lower back pain can be a tricky beast. It could be any number of things. IME, a lot of lower back pain is caused by other muscles being tight and/or weak. In particular tight hamstrings and weak gluteals are a prime factor. I would suggest backing away from deads for now and working on foam rolling the lower body. There are plent of articles by cressey and others that will give you safe exercises to increase mobility and flexibility. If that doesn't work then it is something else and you will most likely have to see a professional. Good luck.
This is spot on. You need to stretch twice a day and get to the point where your hammys, quads, and glutes are very loose. I herniated 2 discs and have pretty bad back pain, but if I stretch everyday and keep my legs loose, and I mean very loose, everything is pretty good.
Flexibility and loosening up your leg/butt muscles will make a huge difference.
Tight hamstrings/hip flexors Weak core/lack of core stability Lack of hip internal rotation Weak ass
Is your pain on one of the sides of your back? I have the same pain you describe right, however I am convinced that it is due to messed up QL (quadratus lumborum) after reading some of BBB's old posts. I'm going to get some Graston and deep tissue done on it and see if that does the trick. I am convinced it is the QL because I did a QL stretch for my right side and immediately the pain went away (it came back a little bit later, but I know the cause now). Try it out:
BBB, would you mind on elaborating on how to do something like adjusting your SI joint? I've been having similiar pains that will go away for a while then come back when i'm doing something little, like picking a plate off the ground.