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Is Deadlifting Safe?

Many people, especially those with back pain, are told deadlifting is dangerous and they must be careful to not hurt their back. It's even worse when a healthcare provider is telling them they should avoid this movement. This leads to confusion and fear about what they could be doing to strengthen their back.

As Doctors of Physical Therapy, we are the movement experts. The deadlift is a functional movement that people perform on a daily basis without even realizing. It's also known as a hip hinge.

The movement incorporates back and leg muscles, like when one picks up an object from the floor. When done properly, it makes the back more resilient and less prone to injury.

As Physical Therapists, the hip hinge is often an exercise we teach people early on in rehab or during training. This builds the foundation for proper mechanics and allows us to begin loading the movement with weights.

Keys to hip hinge/deadlift properly:

  1. Create a stable base with your feet hip width apart

  2. Hinge at the waist- keeping your back flat

  3. Lower to grip the weight

  4. Keep the bar close to your legs as you rise to stand, maintaining a flat back

  5. Squeeze the glutes at the top- being mindful to not hyperextend the low back

If one begins to experience low back pain during the movement, either rest before continuing and/or decrease the weight. Usually a pain or discomfort is a cue from the body that the mechanics are being compromised (this is usually associated with fatigue), not that damage is being done.

Mastering the deadlift will have significant carry over into daily chores, child care, sport performance, and more. If you aren't sure whether you're deadlifting properly, or if your concerned about doing it wrong, reach out and our team can help make sure you're doing it correctly.


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