Deadlifting Injury

A week ago I felt a pop or a distinct pull as if something let loose very near my right SI joint while deadlifting. I stopped and went to a DO I trust. He said my SI joint was “out” and reset it. I had localized low back pain and instability (hard to get out of bed, sit, stand, put on socks etc…) lasting about three days. Having herniated L5S1/L3/4 a number of times I feared the worst. Thankfully, the instability subsided and pain lessened over the next few days. Now 7 days later my low back feels “tight” but, I can move around fine, walk, ride a little even lift (not deadlift or squat).

I’m scheduled for an MRI this Saturday but super interested to read how many have injured themselves deadlifting. What kind and how bad was it? Not looking for a diagnosis. Just more to commiserate! Cheers

Not deadlifting, but I acutely ruptured L3,4 squatting several years ago. I backed off in the gym, but became concerned by the loss of muscle in my left leg. MRI confirmed nerve compression. PT and time, and things are back to normal. I stayed away from squats and deadlifts for several years. Eventually I sought professional coaching on form ( Alan Thrall in Sacramento), I haven’t had any problem since. I think its important to stick to form religiously and keep rep counts low so that fatigue doesn’t cause your form to suffer.


+1 on lower rep count and strict adherence to form. If you don’t have a coach/trainer, I found it helpful to record myself on my phone and analyze after each set. I also highly recommend “Starting Strength” by Mark Rippetoe and “Becoming a Supple Leopard” byKelly Starret as excellent resources for learning technique and correcting faults. Every time I’ve hurt myself squating ir deadlifting, it’s been user error, not the exercise and I find that going back to basics and continuing to train (at a manageable load) and practice the movement pattern helps speed recovery.

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I did something similar resulting in L4 and L5 injuries. No nerve impingement.

You will be OK. Anti-inflammatory meds can help get this under control before beginning physical therapy treatment to get you back on track. Once I did that I started an easy lifting and mobility routine to help sort my back problem out. You will be please to note it consisted of dead-lift and squats - with supervision to ensure I had perfect form.

Make sure you seek out the best exercise or physio you can who have a strong history of successfully treating these types of injuries

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Same injury caused by a deadlift overload after some time off. Essentially did too much weight too soon. My family has history of SI joint laxity, and when it slips out, it hurts like hell. My sister (a DPT/physio) taught my wife and I how to set it if it happens periodically, and it usually takes a day or two for me to regain full mobility and maybe a week to be totally pain free after the procedures.

I spend time keeping my hip flexors and hip joint mobile. It’s about all I worry about. When it gets tight, it pulls on my core and my SI starts to feel it. I stand at work sometimes, I stretch, I make a point to keep my hips open off the bike as much as I can.

I have recently started deadlifting again without much issue. I’m at somewhat lower weight than before but doing five reps. SI seems to be holding up fine now.

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@Landis former bodybuilder with a “career”-ending injury due to a deadlift that went wrong. L4L5 protrusion and L5S1 bulge. You’re a fool if you have an injury like this, and continue to deadlift. I tell people all the time, deadlifts are the BEST movement for strength and mass if:

  1. You are young
  2. Have no physical imbalances

I have no good days. I’m in pain every damn day. Some days are very tolerable, and usually there’s two days a year when I need a cane to move around. Oh, BTW, I’m 38-years-old. I’m grateful I can still swim, bike, and run. I keep active. Things for you to do: stop deadlifting. Keep active on the bike. Work on your core. Go to a pull-up bar, grab the bar, let your toes touch the ground, and let your spine decompress.
There will be guys who say, “I injured my back, and the best thing I did was learn to deadlift properly, and I continued to deadlift.” Yeaaaaaa…okay


@kbeers81 this is the 4th time in my life I’ve injured my back. L5S1 herniation in '98 (age 30) from down hauling a windsurf sail=could not move. Ambulance to hospital. Another L5S1 in 2000 (age 32) literally just standing in front of a mirror shaving. WTF?!?! L5S1 L3/4 2011 (age 43) from riding bikes. Or it happened while riding a bike, seated, low power climbing.
And now this one.

Whatever is going on, while not good, it is no where in the universe of pain I was in with the last three which I recovered fully from. In general lack of core is at the root of each however, bad technique during the lift was the overwhelming contributor last week.

I feel like I’m a pseudo expert on lumbar disc insults. The episode in 2011 I was off the bike for a year. In pain every day for close to 6 months maybe? I forget but, it was a long time. I made my life about recovery (going to PT 8 hours a week all year), eating lean and clean, (lost 15 lbs) and readjusting my mental depression to a positive one.

You wrote you need a cane two days a year and in pain most days. How long have you been injured? I ask because protrusions, bulges, whatever you want to call the insult to the annulus wall will heal in time. Do you have a mechanical instability by chance?

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@Landis it’s interesting you mention this…healing in time, as I’ve been able to do more with time. I’ve been injured since 2012. I tried deadlifting again this year with a trap bar, and I could barely move the following day. My chiropractor was not happy when I told him what I did to re-injure my back. By the grace of god, I can still do triathlons and hit it hard. My days of squatting and deads are over

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I just screwed something up yesterday deadlifting! Good times.

I’m just really getting back into it, and had the bar fairly light. I did a set, took a break, and when I repositioned myself for set #2, something on the right side of my spine, right about hip bone level started yelling at me. I didn’t even attempt the set and bailed on the rest of the gym workout. Proceeded to spend the bulk of the evening trying to find a position that didn’t trigger it.

Today it’s somewhat better, but I have to be careful how I move and sit. I’ve done this before, and it’s frustrating as hell. If past experience is an indicator, I’ll be fine-ish in another day or 2. I’ve already decided I’m not training deadlifts any more. I’ve had good luck with trap bar squats in the past. Going back to that.


Oh man. I’m thinking positive thoughts for you @kbeers81! That can really be a grind.

Whenever you want to get a long list of replies on a strength forum you can just start a thread titled ‘anybody ever injure themselves deadlifting?’ Ha! If you had 100 strength athletes in a room and asked everybody who had ever been injured deadlifting you might just get 100 hands raised. Probably same with squatting.

I once heard a WSM competitor say that unless you’re training for that specific event the risks of deadlifting outweigh the benefits. Although I was surprised to hear it at the time I’ve become more inclined to agree with that sentiment as time goes on. Same with squats.


@Landis when I say I have to utilize a cane to get around, that is because my hips are thrown off so bad, and that disc material is hitting the nerve; thus I have a hard time standing up. One visit to the chiropractor and I’m in okay shape. My brother and I were doing the Seattle to Portland, 207-mile ride last year. The day prior, I went to my chiropractor to get adjusted for maintenance. I must have slept like a jackass, because I woke up, and I knew it wasn’t going to be a good day. I get to mile 100, and the pain is shooting into my calf, and it feels like I have a knife jammed in my spine. I almost had tears going down my face. I didn’t know how I was going to finish. As luck would have it, at the 100-mile mark in Centralia, WA, there was a festival, of sorts. This is typically where the two-day riders stop, get a beer, and call it a day. It just so happened there was a chiropractor there. That lady popped me back into place, and I felt instant relief. I could feel blood flow to my legs (blood flow wasn’t stopped–it was the nerve that was goofed off." After that, I told my brother, “we are going to pick it up, and hit some top speeds.” Not to sound like a narcissist, but hitting 25 MPH in a paceline (me leading) was pretty awesome, seeing the pain I was in. This is no joke. Take care of your back, folks.

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This video may be helpful to those starting out deadlifting if you are able to have someone watching your technique for you. So really helpful points regarding grip as well.

@Kuttermax First, I don’t want you to think i’m being disrespectful to you. One cannot ascertain body language/tone in a message. This being said, the issue with having someone watch you is MOST do not know how to do a deadlift properly; therefore, someone watching you is more than likely futile at best.
Something for my trainerroad brothers and sisters to think about: On average, 80 people out of 100 MRI’d will show signs of disc degenerative disease, and NOT have any symptoms. Then, one day, you might be sitting there brushing your teeth, and your toothpaste drops. You bend down to pick up the tube of toothpaste, and you feel something weird, and then…pain. You may not be able to stand up. You may have the wind knocked out of you. My point is here, folks, you MIGHT have disc degenerative disease and NOT EVEN KNOW IT. This said, and I say this, because I don’t want you guys to feel what myself and others have felt: lay off the deadlifts. There are so many other things you can do where the risk does NOT out-weigh the reward. Yes, in my opinion, there is not a better compound movement out there for mass, strength, and overall health than the deadlift. I must preface this with: if you’re

  1. Young; 2 don’t have any imbalances; 3. not underlying injuries.
    It is of importance to understand as we get older, we don’t heal as well. We become less agile. Why put your disc-health at risk by doing a deadlift. My brother, who is 5 years my senior, has failed to listen to me. We have the same genetics. I hope he doesn’t go through what I have, and I hope you folks don’t go through this crap either. The end result of what we do on trainerroad is health. This is why i quit spitting my copenhagen on the ground. I’m doing this to be healthy. I know this is getting winded, but I’m hoping to drive home the point to do something else for a better risk:reward ratio.
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This article touches on a lot of the concerns @kbeers81 mentions with Deadlifting and is a good read.


If you are seeing a PT who knows what’s happening disregard.

Reading your last post was painful…If it were me, I’d address why the spine is not stable. Alignment with out muscles firing to keep the spine in place does nothing.

Sounds hoaky but, a machine called Med-X helped isolate and work stabilizer muscles in the back like the multifidus for me. It was complete chance I was hooked up with the PT and the facility that had this machine but, that’s the way this goes sometimes. And not that this one machine was the answer. We did so many crazy small stabilization exercises I thought I was wasting my time.

In no way am I saying every low back pain patient is suffering because of lack of core, muscle imbalance and/or stabilizer muscles not firing, but from working with PT’s over the years there are not that many cases where this isn’t what’s going on.

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