Deadlift – what is the verdict?

The deadlift is one of the most beneficial and functional exercises that should be incorporated in most exercise programs. But the deadlift has always suffered a poor reputation for causing lower back injuries which scares most people off attempting them. However research on the topic often reports the exact opposite saying deadlifts can improve our lower back health.

Deadlifts are fantastic for improving strength in the posterior chain, including; hamstrings, gluteals, lower back and shoulder blade stabilising muscles. It is an important core exercise so why does it cop such a bad rap.

Deadlifts are often considered to be unsafe and have caused injuries because of overloading on weight and poor technique. However when performed correctly it has been demonstrated in multiple studies that deadlifts can improve lower back pain as effectively as Pilates or specifically tailored exercise programs. In one study they found a 72% decrease in pain scoring and 76% improvement in disability measurements using deadlifts and functional exercises (Welch et al, 2015).

When performing deadlifts it is important to use correct technique and is best to have an Exercise Physiologist guiding you. Important things to remember include:

  • Not overloading the bar – lift only what you are capable
  • Don’t arch or round your back – maintain neutral spine
  • Keep the bar as close to you as possible throughout the movement
  • Push through your legs to raise the bar – don’t pull up with your arms and back
  • Keep your head and chest up at all times
  • Finish standing completely straight with good posture


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