Why You Hurt Your Back (And How to Avoid it)
There’s stuff on the floor. And you need to be able to pick it up.
That's why everyone practices deadlifting at Gain. It isn’t about lifting the most weight, it is about learning the best technique to pick something up off the ground. Whether it's baby, a spoon you dropped while cooking or a couch – you need to own the technique to pick something up off the floor.
If you have back pain when deadlifting or get some pain or irritation when picking things up from the floor, consider improving the following:
1. Groove the Motor Pattern
Can you get your body into the right position? When you went to pick up a sock and blew out your back - you did it in a poor position.
The easiest way to fix this is practice. Doing quality reps with good technique. Get a coach or a friend to watch you and make sure your form is perfect. Especially on the setup, a lot of trainees miss the boat here.
2. Load Order Sequencing
Getting into the starting position is the most important part of the deadlift. If you setup correctly you are more likely to have a successful pull. Building tension is also important here. Too many people pick things up without any tension in their body.
Now, you don’t need to pick up a water bottle from the floor like it weights 400 pounds, but there should be appropriate tension available for the weight.
To set up properly:
Every time you bend over to lift something up – screw your feet into the ground. This will torque your hips into external rotation and create a more stable hip to load.
Next is to squeeze your butt and your belly. This sets the pelvis into a good position and gets us that neutral spine we want.
After that I like to reach my arms out, to get into some thoracic extension, and then hinge over by pushing my butt back as far as I can. A good cue here is to try and reach the wall behind you with your butt or pretend you have a rope tied around your waist and I’m pulling you back.
Last step is to bend your knees to get your hands to the object you’re picking up. The key here is to keep the hips loaded the entire time, don’t translate too far forward on your knees.
3. Hip Mobility
The best way to make sure that your hips stay loaded during the setup of the deadlift is to have adequate hip mobility. You need enough range of motion while in a stable position. Spend some time each day during you lunch break or while watching TV and open up your hips. Good change happens slow, give this time and respect the process.
Here are a few of my favorite hip openers:
4. Hamstrings Stiffness
If you sit a lot your hamstrings can get matted down and stiff. Not using your posterior chain muscles can lead to stiffness back there too. While traditional static stretching may provide some temporary relief, it’s probably not the end all be all solution. Soft tissue work on the hamstrings can work wonders here.
5. Lacking Trunk Stability
You need to be able to brace yourself against movement and protect the spine. Having a strong and stable core will allow you to brace in the proper position and maintain proper position while picking something up. It will also help you in most other activities in your life.
This is the big one that is always overlooked. Everyone wants back pain to go away. Everyone will do whatever exercises or quick fixes they read about online, but no one wants to really do something about it. No one goes the extra mile.
If you have back pain when you get home from work every single day you need to make a change. Maybe it’s your footwear with an elevated heel that shifts your center of gravity forward, maybe it’s the way that you sit at your desk, and maybe it is the way that you sleep at night. When was the last time you considered your sleep posture? I’m talking to you stomach sleepers.
This only grazes the surface of common causes of back pain. But these are the most common I see on a daily basis and what we try to do at Gain to fight against it. Being able to pick things off the floor is an important skill you need to complete a task. Make it your goal to never blow out your back.