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Thread: Can't deadlift - very tight lower back

  1. #1
    Senior Member K-R-M's Avatar
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    Can't deadlift - very tight lower back

    I'm wondering if anyone's had this problem before. My lower is so tight that I can't pull the bar from the ground. It feels like I have no power at all from the floor. This has been recent because at the gym I go to, I can't do any of the back strength exercises I'm used to doing (I can't change gyms, I'm in the middle of europe in a dormitory with no money or time). This means I haven't done more than 1 or 2 serious deadlifts since October.

    I was thinking of doing 1 of 2 things. Either deadlift from blocks and gradually lower the blocks week to week. Or, do a lot of back extensions and good mornings until I feel my back is back to where it should be. I was also thinking of doing light work on off days.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Squat Heavy, Squat Often Cards's Avatar
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    start light and work your way into the full range of motion. Some dynamic stretching before lifting is very helpful as well as some static stretching at night.
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    Senior Member BoAnderson71's Avatar
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    myofascial realease for the piriformis. Stretch it afterwards along with the hip flexors. Rollovers into v-sits are good too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BoAnderson71 View Post
    myofascial realease for the piriformis. Stretch it afterwards along with the hip flexors. Rollovers into v-sits are good too.
    I agree with everything, except I don't know how I feel about the v-sits, they might be flexing the lower back even more which would cause further stress over time. If they worked for you, that would be surprising to me. Definitely foam roll like BoAnderson said and not only stretch the hip flexors, but increase their mobility with dynamic warm-ups.

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    THE 800 QUEST NickAus's Avatar
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    Super sets of abs over the swiss ball and back raises helped me with stiffness, Im fine now.
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    Senior Member Drew92's Avatar
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    Make sure you're stretching your hamstrings.

  7. #7
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    I've experienced the same thing. I couldn't hold my lumbar curve when squatting or deadlifting. I found out it's because I lack shoulder mobility. Combine shoulder mobility with hip mobility stretching and you'll probably be on your way to proper form.

  8. #8
    Senior Member K-R-M's Avatar
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    The tightness is now pain. It comes from a technique error in the back squat. I sprained it again last week, must be the third time in the last 6 months.


    I think I'm going to rehab my back completely and work on my technique.

    Light deadlifts and sumo deadlifts with a progression scheme. Front squats instead of back squats. Stretching, foam rolling and mobility work.


    I think a big part of the injury was from my travels around europe during the last 6 months. My dorm equipment was ****, with 1 in diameter bars and small plates, so I just squatted and benched. I used to do tons of upper and lower back work and stopped it all. So for the next month or two, I'm doing good mornings, all kinds of rows, reverse hypers, GHRs, Front squats, abs, rotational abs by the ton.

    Thoughts? I really just want to start powerlifting again.
    Last edited by K-R-M; 03-04-2011 at 04:06 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    If you can do back extensions and good mornings without pain, I'd be doing those. It sounds like you are continually re-injuring yourself. If you're young, you might get away with that for a while, but you could make this a chronic issue if you don't nip it in the bud now.

    Get some rest. Heal up. Strengthen up. Relearn the movements.
    A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
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  10. #10
    Senior Member K-R-M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sensei View Post
    If you can do back extensions and good mornings without pain, I'd be doing those. It sounds like you are continually re-injuring yourself. If you're young, you might get away with that for a while, but you could make this a chronic issue if you don't nip it in the bud now.

    Get some rest. Heal up. Strengthen up. Relearn the movements.
    Yes, this is what I will do. I'm at a point where I see that something really has to be done.

    But, back squats and deadlifts have been by far the main contributors in making me gain muscle mass. It kind of pisses me off not being able to do them.

  11. #11
    Senior Member colinS3's Avatar
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    Do a warm up before your workout (like a fast walk or 5 minutes on the elliptical) and maybe dynamic stretching (much better for you before a workout than static stretching). After your workout is complete immediately do a lot of static stretching. Then later in the day do one more round of static stretching.

    The main reason people get injured is because they aren't flexible enough so mix that in with doing light weights and you'll be more likely to see some type of improvement. Stretching actually makes you recover faster as well.

  12. #12
    Senior Member K-R-M's Avatar
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    Okay guy, I want to thank you all for the help. Pretty much everyone gave me some pointers and things are going better.

    Anyways, I'm still in some pain and am very far from deadlifting what I used to. I tried doing Sumo deadlifts and they really put a lot less stress on my lower back. Same thing with Front squats. I did them instead of back squats and they put little to no pressure on my lower back. I can use relatively decent weights on both exercises.

    I still want to gain strength and weight while I rehab. I'm wondering if these two exercises will translate into a better conv. deadlift and low bar squats when I get better (which could take a few months) and if I can gain decent back and leg size, like I did with back squats and conv. deadlifts. I have access to a GHR, reverse hyper, roman chair, racks, benches, pretty much everything. I'll be practicing the lifts that hurt my back really light to fix technique and flexibility issues at the start of my workouts.

    So, my question is will doing sumo deadlifts, front squats, reverse hypers, back extensions and glute ham raises be as good or close to for mass and strength gains?

  13. #13
    Senior Member K-R-M's Avatar
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    Small update for anyone interesting or anyone with lower back problems.


    I stopped doing back squats and added a lot of reverse hypers, ab work(rotational work and planks) and front squats. I feel the front squats and reverse hypers have made my core almost rock like. I do front squats about 4 times a week on a smolov cycle, I do reverse hyper every beginning of my workouts and twice I do them heavy after my squats for a total of 6 times a week.

    Anyways, my back felt a lot better this week but a bit weak obviously. I did 5 reps at 185lbs with a conventional stance. It's nothing and it felt like nothing but I couldn't deadlift 95lbs 4 weeks ago so I was happy. I then switched to sumo and pulled 225lbs for speed. Went up crazy fast. Then got up to 285lbs and still went up like speed work. So I stopped and called it a day since I was having problems with 95 and 135lbs the week before.

    I just finished my workout. I weighed in at 72.5kgs this morning (and 166lbs at the gym) did a 500lbs rack pull below the knees, so I guess about 8 inches or so, with a hook grip. It's nothing special but considering what my injury did to me I'm happy as hell.

    Now I just have to heal my shoulder injury and I'm back in business.

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    Nice work and thanks for the update.

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    Moderator joey54's Avatar
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    Beyond all that, I am hopeful regular stretching is part of your regiment.


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  16. #16
    Senior Member K-R-M's Avatar
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    It is Joey, I stretch throughout the day and feel it has helped a lot. The tightness is gone and I recover much more quickly.

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