Serving Chester and Delaware Counties, and Northern Wilmington
Do you have back pain when you deadlift? Maybe you avoid deadlifting because “it will hurt your back”? We can help ???? At Align Fitness we ❤ deadlifts and believe success or “failure” (low back pain) usually comes down to technique.
Let’s start with how you set up. You need to determine if it is safe for you to deadlift from the ground or if you need a deficit. A deficit is just something placed under the load (barbell or kettlebell) so “you” can shorten the range of motion or depth of your deadlift. This really comes down to your hip and lower (Lumbar) spine position.
Here’s how to figure it out:
Now that we have your set up sorted out let’s address your breathing, posture, and (core) bracing.
We want to maximize the amount of air in your lungs to increase stability. This is best accomplished through a “belly breath”. How do you perform a belly breath you ask? Well… Take a big, long inhale through your nose. Focus on completely filling you belly (lower lungs) with air and then your chest. The more air in your lungs the easier it is to get and stay braced. You can set your breathe at the top or bottom of the deadlift. We address both strategies in the video below.
We need to do everything we can to get and keep your spine in a neutral position. Pulling yourself into the bar helps set the shoulders, shoulder blades, middle (thoracic), and portions of the upper (cervical spine). We demonstrate how to pull into the bar in the video below.
It’s important to know what and when to brace. Watch the video below for all the details!

Now you know if you need a deficit, how to set up, the best strategy for your breathing, how to get into good posture, and how to brace your core. If you’re still “feeling your lower back” more than just a little we need to look at the way down in your deadlift. If the bar is getting far away from your body on the way down you are likely to recruit more low back muscle than you would like. To be clear ,the bar “escaping” means you allow it to move froward (away from your thighs and shins on the way down. When this is the case we encourage you to engage your lats and keep the bar as close to your body as possible on the way down. Watch the next video for more detail!

If none of the above changes to your deadlift resolved your low back pain it’s time to step away from the bar and regress to a kettlebell deadlift. Sometimes we need to rework the hinge pattern with lighter weight loads to break bad habits. Watch the next video to learn how we like to teach the kettlebell deadlifts.

Please note: after certain spine and disc issues the hinge and deadlift pattern might always be painful. With that said, deadlifting might not be the right exercise for you. A sure way to tell is through a movement evaluation with a fitness coach. We offer free consultations which include a functional movement screening and a wide variety of additional testing which help us understand what you should and shouldn’t be doing in your exercise program. Send us a message if you’re in the Chester county area and need some help.

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