T Nation

Need Advice on Back Issue After Deadlift


#1

Hey guys, I'm in serious need of advice!

First off, some stats: 66kg, 18M, 5'8
Workout:

A: Bench, Pendlay Row, Squat, Chins
B: Press, Deads, Lat Pulldowns, DB rows
ABA then BAB p/week

Predicament:

On Tuesday during my deadlift session, I lifted what was heavy weight for me (125KG/275lb)
and all went well till my last set where during the middle of the lift I could feel my tightness 'seeping' and feel a little round in my midback. Regardless, I finished the rep and stopped. (I was sure I did it with good form: tight lats, shoulders over bar, brace core, neutral position, weight on heel etc)

Few days later, I visited my chiropractor as my back was feeling uncomfortable and aching a little. After a massage, I was advised to not do ANY DEADLIFTS for at least 3-6 months and squats must be assisted or not to even go parallel. Chiro made a comment about putting too stress on my low back from heavy deadlifts.

Right now, I'm just resting it, at least for another few days. So I'm just wondering what I should do to replace those lifts (even though they're king) at least for the mean time. Any other advice too would be appreciated.

TLDR: Sad day. Put too much stress on low back and now banned from doing deadlifts and full deep squats for 3-6 months. Need advice as for replacement/things I should do.

Thanks guys,
Bryan.

*I could get a form video up hopefully by next week if anyone wants, but will probably be doing it with very light weights just to illustrate my form and not screw my back up even more.


#2

Does you chiro have an aversion to weight training in general? Based on how you described it "aching a little", I can't imagine 3-6 months being appropriate. My back aches a little after deadlifting, then I foam roll, stretch and it goes away the next day.

If it aches quite a bit, and you can hardly walk, sit or move without serious pain, then this is another story.


#3

Question--when doing a deadlift where do you feel the majority of the weight? What muscles do you feel working the most thru the whole lift start to finish?

Same for squat.


#4

Hey dchris,

My chiro is a female, but she does go to the gym and do her fair share of deadlifts from what I hear from her. After deadlifts, I usually feel DOMS along my back and lower back, but this did not feel anything like soreness. It felt more like discomfort, like a feeling between soreness and pain, but not quite (Sorry, bad explanation)

When I twist or bend over to do something, there would be a little ache (not soreness) but it happens at random. The next time I twist or bend, there won't be any aching. I went to my chiro because this is the first time I have felt something like this, and was just worried I might've slipped a disc or the like.

*The ache is not bothering my constantly throughout the day, just a feeling of discomfort in mid back, by spinal erectors.


#5

What did the chieo aay had happened? not what did she say to do, but what was her explanation for what you were feeling?

Did she have a good reason


#6

Well, obvious one would be I definitely feel it in my heels. For deadlift, I feel it load up my hams and my back. My low back does feel tight after a set, form issue? I did watch a video from Alan Thrall about loading hams and glutes during the deadlift, but I've done RDL's in the past so I should be recruiting those, but i'll definitely get a form video up soon

She just commented on how deadlifts put too much stress on low back when it gets really heavy and people tend to round their low back, so I guess she's implying I might be fatigued on that last set and unconsciously put too much load onto my low back


#7

How many days rest between workout A and B?

Do you arch your back a lot while benching?

A video of your pull would be helpful.

Are your hamstrings overly tight? Lower back? Do you foam roll it ever?


#8

A day rest between each workout, so A,R,B,R,A
For bench, there is a slight arc, but no I don't arch alot. I actually try to keep a flat back.
I do stretch my hams and foam roll it occasionally. I stretch my low back sometimes, but not always.

I may have forgotten to stretch both that day as I wanted to get to school on time, which is probably a huge problem now looking back at it. Is the low back meant to feel tight after deadlifts? Because I have been feeling it more since I've increased the weight.
I hope to get a video up soon when I can return to the gym, hopefully by wednesday.


#9

Yes and no. Yes, the low back is involved in the deadlift and is involved by design. Yes, the low back can get tight when you recently increase your working weight OR do way more reps than normally OR when you max. It is a natural part of adaptation to new loads, and 100% of serious lifters go through it.

No, it should not take most of the load. No, it should not get tired or tight first (in general, max attempts and all out sets it happens sometimes, and sometimes you're just beat up).

Nobody deadlifts big weight without a strong ass lower back. However, it should not be tired before the glutes are fried in general.

Feeling a deadlift in the mid back or spinal erectors is not necessarily terrible, but feeling it primarily in the low back is.

How much ab work and glute work do you do?


#10

Never stretch your lower back before a lift. Afterwards, sure.

In the vast majority of cases the problem people have is more mobility at the lower back than they should. The low back primarily needs STABILITY not mobility in most people. Yes exceptions apply. You are probably not one of them.

Most people need flexibility at the ankles, stability ay the knee, flexibility at the hip (hip mobility, internal/external rotation, flexion, extension, all around basically), and stability in the lower spine


#11

I used to do RDL's before switching over to regs, but now deadlifts and squats are the only glute work I do. For abs, I just do planks every alternating day for sets of 3. Should I be doing more?

Just curious, from your standpoint, how do you reckon someone should reduce loading of lower back during deadlifts? After Set 1 (I do go heavy on this with at least 6-8 reps), my low back is tight and tired, not so much my glutes.

Oh man, I've been stretching my low back before my core lifts! Thanks for pointing that out.
So I should just do the standard mobility drills for hips, ankles and shoulders? Anything else? Also, any advice on things I should do in the mean time where I can't do full squats or deadlifts?


#12

Yeaahh....That's the problem right there. That's not doing shit for your glutes or your abs. Especially because it's too damn easy to hang on the anterior ligaments of the hip in the plank in order to get more time out of the plank and thus the illusion of "progress".

Try 6-9 sets of ab work every time you're in the gym. Actual ab work, don't be feeling shit in your hip flexors. Keep your lower back from sagging down, that puts all the strain on the back and the anterior structure of the hip rather than the abs. And stretch your hip flexors both in warm-up and before your ab work later--tight hip flexors "stick" your hips in a position where the lower back gets taxed much more (anterior pelvic tilt).

Ab roll-outs
Roman chair leg raises
decline sit-ups
ab walk-outs (similar to roll-outs but using your hands to walk out)
stir the pot
plank with your hands on a medicine ball
reverse crunches (push-up position, shins on a medicine ball, pull your knees towards your torso)

Shit goes on and on, that's not even counting oblique exercises--which probably don't need to be focused on right now as you're so weak all around in the core.

Work them seriously. Pick 2-3 exercises and do them each for 3 sets of 8-12 reps--like a circuit/superset-- with as little rest between as possible at the end of your workouts. Exception is the planks, which you should be squeezing the life out of not just hanging out. ALSO pick 1 easy exercise and do 3 sets during warm-up to get them activated.

Glutes, again not getting enough work. Your plan might work for people who can already activate them and/or are naturally glute dominant but not for you or most people.

bodyweight glute bridges (again, no arching of your low back on any of these, keep your abs tight)
single leg glute bridges
dumbbell or barbell hip thrusts
sideways walks with a band (also known as X walks or Monster walks)

and a bunch of other exercises are all good. Do a bodyweight exercise in your warm-up right after stretching your hip flexors and the ab exercise. Every day you're in the gym no matter what. Then as a "pre-fatigue" exercise before both squats and deadlifts--but especially deadlifts--do a dumbbell loaded glute bridge. Stop before failure, do it as a superset--deadlifts and squats are the 2nd exercise of the pair. Again, you're not allowed to arch the low back, you have to squeeze the shit out of your abs while you do these exercises.

Standard mobility drills are pretty good yes...but it depends on what your definition of standard is lol. My definition and yours may be very different.

Honestly, I don't think you need to lay off the squats and deadlifts. I've had damn near crippling aches in my mid back from maxing on good mornings, I still managed to train legs the next week. Give it a week off the squats and deads, and substitute a pair: 1 ab exercise and 1 glute exercise from above, done superset fashion.

Strangely enough, stretching your back MAY be helpful in getting your aches to go away. If you are suffering from back extension based pain, then actually some flexion may help alleviate it by bringing you back to "normal", but this should be seen as situation specific and never a standard procedure, like I said above don't stretch the back when lifting. Play it by ear, but always away from your workout. If you feel less pain, keep it up for a couple days, if not then stop. There's no sense in stretching it if it is not making you better. In that case you may gradually be making things worse. Too long to type that one out, but that's the short of it.

Think of it as an iron rod--the strongest position is straight. If the rod is flexed forward, then to bring it back to "normal" or straight, one should extend the rod more. If the rod is extended and bent backwards, then one may be able to flex it forward more to bring it to neutral. Flexed forward would be like a desk jockey always slouching at a computer. Extended back would be more like your present situation (or google 'anterior pelvic tilt' for a visual illustration). Now that's not a really thorough treatment of the subject and therefore the analogy "rule" isn't a hard rule but more of a general guideline. In general stretching the low back is something to be avoided for the reasons I mentioned above. It is still my least favorite method whatsoever of trying to correct a postural problem because it builds in its own weaknesses.

Oh, and 3-6 months off squatting and deadlifting is fucking bullshit advice. Did you break your spine or your legs? No? Well shit, probably ought to fucking keep it up. But...you also had probably better learn to do it right lol.


#13

Thanks for the detailed reply! Appreciate it :slight_smile: