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Common Deadlift Pitfalls

Updated: Aug 19, 2019

physical therapy Fairfield, CT manual therpy specialists

We’ve all been there… heavy bar and plates on the ground. You want to lift it up badly but you sacrifice form. The next day something is hurting…

Here are the 6 most common pitfalls we see with deadlift technique.

Start Position – The further away from your body the bar or load is the more stress there is on your low back. Ideal position for the bar is over your midfoot. Feet should be shoulder width apart and straight ahead or with a slight turnout if comfortable. Bar position should be about one inch in front of your shins. Too far forward and the load with shift to your low back and calves. Too far back and it shifts again to your low back but you also lose balance very easily.

Your shoulders should be slightly in front of the bar at the starting position, commonly they will be behind the bar if you rock back too fast. Hip height will vary depending on how long your torso and thigh bones are. Hips too high is bad for you. The low back should be in neutral not rounded position. (slight arch) Note that you can arch too much as well.

Breathing/Tensioning – You want to fill your lungs with air before you lift. A can of soda is harder to crush when it is full of liquid. More tension/pressure = ability to lift more. As you set up create tension by breathing in, fire your lats and hamstrings and rock your hips down and back to create tension. Just don’t lose your balance point. Squeezing the bar firmly will also create more tension.

Pulling – The easiest way to lift heavy weight is straight up. We commonly see people try to hold the bar away from their body and not drag it up their thighs or the bar path will be a squiggly line instead of a straight line. Pulling the bar into your body and engaging your lats will help with this.

Lock Out – People tend to pull too far and their low back hyperextends (they arch backwards). Let’s think of this, you have a huge weight and you bend backwards creating a hinge point putting all of the weight into your low back. Not a great idea… The finish should be a stacked position with your shoulders on top of your hips, hips on top of your feet. Don’t pull into hyperextension.

Head Position – The head and neck should be in a slightly tucked position to further turn on your core. If you look up you make your extensor muscle group overactive. While there may be a slight advantage for setting a PR, on a regular basis this will cause breakdown of the system and eventually injury.

Lowering the Bar – People will often lose the tension that they have created when they lower the bar causing the system to crumble and the load to strain a certain area of the body. The injury will usually be due to volume and poor technique not a single lowering of the bar.

There you go the 6 most common technique issues we see with deadlifting. Fix your form and go lift heavy weights! #kingofalllifts #pickthingsup #deadlift

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