Want proper deadlift form?
If you’re new to training or have been moving plates for years it’s probably the one movement that has caused us all issues. Proper deadlift form is usually inhibited by the following:
- Poor trunk stability
- Too much time in forward flexion
- Sub optimal patterning in the hip hinge movement
- Weak or inactive muscles in the posterior chain
If you’re a busy professional or someone who spends a lot of hours on the computer or at the desk, maintaining proper deadlift form is usually the pattern or skill you struggle with the most.
Here’s five reasons why:
- Sitting shortens hip flexors. Spending too much time in hip flexion encourages your hip flexors to remain shortened. You need to spend an adequate amount of time getting into extension (via the couch stretch and other movements) to offset all those desk hours.
- Your Illiopsoas is connected to your spine and your hips. When our illiopsoas is shortened or weak it often causes lower back pain this is because it connects to your lumbar spine. Taking time to release your lower back and psoas through methods such as trigger point therapy goes a long way here.
- Sitting compresses your diaphragm. Another negative effect of forward flexion, your ability to breathe correctly and brace through diaphragmatic breathing can sometimes become compromised. This effects the link between hips and shoulders. Here’s some quick assessments and drills you can do to fix it.
- Posture is also effected. Your shoulders and ability to stabilise through scapular control has a bigger impact on your deadlift pattern than people realise. For the average Joe, deadlifting with a neutral spine is the safest and most effective way to master the deadlift.
- Hamstrings and glutes switch off. If you don’t use it, you lose it. When we sit our glutes switch off and hamstrings weaken and shorten. This often becomes evident when you try to get back into heavy deadlifts, kettlebell swings or running where we tear a hamstring or suffer a lower back injury because the muscles that are meant to be working just aren’t firing.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. A deskbound worker can offset these negative effects by simple and effective movement preparation exercises and the right exercise selection. As always we can follow a simple approach to achieve this and that’s mobilise, stabilise and integrate.
Start with elements such as trigger point therapy for the lower back and hips we then can use mobility exercises such as strap stretches, neural flossing and hip extension exercises. This will allow you gain the required position in order to maintain proper deadlift form.
There’s not much point mobilising everything if we are not adding stability to the movement. Exercises such as the plank, hip bridge and hip hinge patterning with a dowel are effective and low/no equipment options that reinforce all of those gains in mobility.
Once we have the required mobility and stability for proper deadlift form it now comes down to correct exercise selection for the deadlift. Rushing straight back to heavy barbell deadlifts might not be the best method instead, focus on movements that challenge trunk and single leg stability in your hinge pattern. This allows you to isolate asymmetries and correct them before adding the conventional deadlift into the mix.
Pass through the gates with flying colours? You’ve most likely earned proper deadlift form and you’re ready to get back to loading the movement but be sure to start small and increase load only when your technique allows.
Deadlifts shouldn’t make your back hurt and if they do, take a look at the lifestyle factors that may be influencing it before you go blaming the movement. Even the most deskbound athlete can remove lower back pain and reap the benefits of the deadlift is they follow the simple mobilise, stabilise and integrate approach.