T Nation

Pain in Abdomen During Deadlift

I am a 22yo male, 5’8" 170lbs, and have been training for about 2 1/2 months. I am doing the Bill Starr 5x5, which calls for 5x5 deadlifts once a week. I have been steadily increasing the weight with no problems, and last week did 215 5x5 without a problem.

However today when I was warming up for Deadlifts I noticed that my lower back seemed pretty stiff, but I figured it would loosen up during my warm up. However, when I went to pull 225 it seemed much heavier than it should be and I got 2 reps with a struggle, and on the third rep as I was pulling up I felt a sharp sensation in my abdomen, and immediately set the weight down.

It doesnt hurt right now, but it definitely freaked me out. I tried searching for some advice, but couldn’t find any. I was wondering if I should just lay off deadlifts for a bit, or just use lower weight. Has anyone experienced this before that can help me out?

Also, the variables that were different today were that I worked out in the morning vs. at night and that I started with the bar closer to my shins than last time. I had read the Mastering the Deadlift articles, and tried to adjust my form to match. I’m thinking I had my hips further back and higher, which placed too much strain on my back/abdomen and not enough on my posterior chain.

How much ab work do you do?

I’m not a doctor, but it sounds like a hernia. Perhaps you should see a doctor.

If doctors say it wasn’t a hernia, when I returned to deadlifting I was make sure to learn better form to ‘squeeze’ the barbell off the floor. This involves simultaneously isometrically contracting your abs, glutes, legs, lats and grip for a second before you begin to pull the weight. Then you pull the weight. It helps with lifting speed, with technique, and can sometimes allow you to pull greater weight. Safer.

Were you using a weight belt? If so, what kind, and how tight were you wearing it? What is your form like, deep breath in and tight core before each rep? Or do you just get the weight up off the floor by any means necessary without much emphasis on form and keeping the abs firm?
I’m not trying to teach you the proper form here, I’m trying to figure out what might have happened.

Sometimes sharp pains in the abdomen can be as simple as using a stiff leather belt, pulled too tight, and not quite set in the right place, but other times, unfortunately, could be due to things such as hernias, strains, etc.
If you want to clear your mind, see a doc. Have you had ANY pain or discomfort in the area since then? If you hold your hand on the exact area and take a deep breath and squeeze, sort of like when you’re taking a dump, do you feel anything?

Assuming you see a doc, if he clears you for training, make sure your form is spot on for the big lifts, and increase poundages not only when your body can handle it, but when your body AND form can handle it as well…

I don’t really do a lot of ab work, I do some planks after workouts occasionally but not much isolated ab work. The area didnt hurt or ache after the set at all, and still hasn’t throughout the day so I’m pretty sure its not a hernia.

If the pain comes back at all I will go see a doctor appointment. My best guess is that my hips were too high so I was basically stiff legged DL’ing a much higher load than I should have. Next week when I try deadlifts I will keep my hips lower,a nd I will definitely try squeezing the barbell as you explained. I figure instead of the straight 5x5 I will pyramid the sets up to 1 set of my working weight just to ensure that everything is ok. Thanks!

Usually my from is fine (I keep a straight back, take a deep breath and flex core, and feel my glutes and hamstrings activate) and I do not use a weight belt, I had raised my hips higher for this workout though since I had read the mastering the deadlift article, and was afraid that my hips were too low for some reason. I think I over compensated by raising my hips too much, and taking my glutes/hams out of the equation. I couldn’t feel them activate today and it felt like I was pulling with mainly my back.

I do not feel anythign when holding my breath and squeezing, and I don’t feel any bumps in the area that would indicate a hernia. Im not sure if it is just a very minor strain, or if it I set the weight down in time to avoid injury

Edit: After flexing and prodding the area for a bit I do feel a slight burning sensation, but that could very well be from me flexing and prodding the area haha

Hahaha, well then I suggest you stop flexing and prodding. If you were going to feel something, you would have felt it right away. I’m sure you’ve got a few other body parts to work on before the next time you are scheduled to deadlift, so be conscious of any discomfort in the area while you are carrying plates around on bench day, military press, etc.

If you don’t feel anything again before next week, you might just be fine. I’m not discouraging you from seeing a doctor, not in the least, always better safe than sorry, next time you deadlift, use the form that is comfortable for your body, keep your back straight, abs tight, and see how the warmups feel. Your body will probably let you know if something is wrong. Let us know how it goes.