Accelerate Physical Therapy

How to do a Safe and Effective Deadlift

You have probably seen a deadlift performed either in the gym or in physical therapy, as men and women with huge muscles lift an enormous amount of weight up to their hips. However, it’s not just for competition or show…or even just for people with massive arms and legs.

It’s a popular exercise to build strength, primarily in the lower back and legs. Mastering this exercise can help a person build strength, as well as stability and balance. But, it can also lead to serious injury if not done properly. So, to get maximum benefit, it should be done properly.

Muscles that will Benefit the Most

Before we talk about technique, you might want to know which muscles will see the most impact with incorporating deadlifts into their routine. The following muscle groups will be benefit the most:

• The Glutes – Through extending the hips and squatting during the lift, your glutes will get a good workout. Consisting of 4 muscles, the glutes are mostly found in the buttock region. They include the gluteus minimus, gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, and the tensor fasciae latae. Tightening this area during the lift will lessen the pressure put on your lower back.
• The Legs – The hamstrings (back of the thigh) and the quadriceps (front of the thigh) will see noticeable improvement in strength and tone with consistent performance of proper technique in deadlifts.
• The Back – The entire back will be strengthened, especially the erector spinae. All the muscles that extend throughout the torso will provide more stabilization as they become stronger.

Now that you know what muscles will benefit with a proper deadlift, let’s take a look at technique…

Six Steps away from a Proper Deadlift

Of course, if you don’t use proper technique, it not only won’t get the results you are seeking, but it can lead to significant injury as well. There are 6 basic steps in performing deadlifts for maximum benefit and safety. Take a look:

1. Stance – rather than the typical “shoulder width apart” you hear for most exercises, your feet should be in slightly closer than that, to allow for your arm movement

2. Hold – the bar should be held overhand, so your palms would be facing the floor, if your arms were parallel to the floor.

3. Bending through the Knees – it’s always best to bend with the knees as you pick something up. In a deadlift, it’s vital in preventing injury with the added weight.

4. Lifting the Chest – Make sure to not squeeze the shoulder blades as you lift your chest, but rather go slightly back and down with the shoulders, keeping your head aligned with your spine.

5. The Pull – While keeping the bar close to the body, it should glide over the knees and thigh area, until the hips and knees lock in a standing position…without leaning back.

6. Lower the Bar – Push the hips back and bend the knees when the bar is at their level.

Repeat the above steps for about 5-10 reps, or as many times your physical therapist or trainer recommends. It’s a fairly simple exercise, when done right. However, when not done right, it can lead to injury…

Common Mistakes that can Lead to Back Injuries

As simple as this exercise can be, a wrong move can put you down for a while. So, make sure you avoid these common mistakes:

• Hips go too High – your lower back will pay the price if you start the pull with your hips too high. You will know they are too high, if you are using your back more than your knees for the lift.
• Rounding the Lower Back – lifting the bar with your lower back rounded will put too much stress on your back, easily leading to an injury. So, make sure to keep your back straight as you lift and lower the bar.
• Hyperextension of the Back – Leaning backwards will put too much strain on your back as well, which isn’t a natural position. But, the results of improper back position would be compounded with extra weight in your lift.
• The Bar not kept Close to the Body – Keeping the bar close into your body while performing a deadlift will give you more control over the bar and your body. Not having control over the lift can cause all kinds of injuries.

If you still have doubt about your technique, ask a professional, such as a physical therapist. They will guide you in keeping your body safe while building strength.