The deadlift is a weight training exercise that helps build muscle, strength, and stamina. It works legs, core, buttocks, and the back when performed correctly. Using an improper form or overdoing it can cause injury to the lower back. Recovering from a deadlifting injury usually takes a couple of days or a week. However, this depends on the severity of the injury. Recovery can be helped through:
Most individuals will feel sore after a strenuous workout. But there is a difference between soreness and injury. Most of the time injuries from deadlifts are caused by not using proper form. Getting the form right is not easy, it does take practice, so do not feel bad if an injury presents.
Most of the time telling the difference between natural soreness from a workout and pain from an injury is pretty straightforward. But sometimes it is not as easy to tell the difference. Soreness is typically characterized by:
Muscle soreness tends to be shallow and spread out over a muscle group. Pain from an injury causes sharp and persistent pain, especially with certain movements. Injury pain is deeper and can be described as stabbing or sharp.
The deadlift has a wide range of motion and incorporates several different joints. Most injuries sustained during a deadlift are low-back injuries. Usually a sprain or a strain. But it is possible to sustain a more serious injury like a herniated disc.
Sprains and strains are different although many use the terms interchangeably.
A herniated disc happens when the gel-like fluid cushion between the vertebrae begins to protrude out. This can cause pain from the disc pressing on surrounding nerves or go unnoticed. Fortunately, sprains, strains, and herniated discs can all be treated conservatively. Seeing a medical professional is recommended to rule out serious conditions.
Some individuals experience an audible pop in the spine during a deadlift. For those that experience a pop but no pain accompanying it, it is likely gas escaping from a joint in the back. Those that experience discomfort or pain with the popping are encouraged to seek out medical attention.
Healing a back injury depends on the severity. The more severe, the longer it will take to heal. Most injuries can be addressed at home. Individuals that cannot stand up straight or there is debilitating pain with normal movements should see a medical professional like a:
It can be tempting to get back to the gym as soon as possible, but this is not recommended until the back truly feels normal. It is recommended to rest for a few days, allowing any swelling, inflammation to go down.
Applying ice to the back every few hours for 15 to 20 minutes is recommended for the first three days, then heat can be incorporated. After three days if there is still pain, incorporate heat to get more blood flowing in and around the area. Use the ice for 15 to 20 minutes, wait 30 minutes, then apply the heat for 15 minutes.
Seeing a chiropractor during any stage of recovery can be beneficial. As chiropractors are musculoskeletal specialists that can realign the body back to its proper form. If four days or more have passed and the pain is not going away, make an appointment with a certified chiropractor or spine specialist.
Most individuals recover within a week or two. For more severe injuries, like a herniated disc can take 6 to 8 weeks. Seeing a medical professional can help speed the process and promote healing. Additional tips include:
Deadlifting can be done safely and properly without sustaining an injury. A personal trainer or a sports chiropractor can analyze an individual’s lifting form and offer recommendations to prevent injury.
Healthy nutrition can facilitate optimal collagen synthesis without supplementation. Protein sources that work with non-essential amino acids contribute to increased collagen production. High-quality protein sources support this process. Vegetarian protein sources include legumes or tofu are good alternatives. Collagen synthesis requires vitamin C, copper, and zinc.
Most importantly is plenty of vitamin C-rich foods like:
The information herein is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional. Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the musculoskeletal system’s injuries or disorders. Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.* Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request. We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.
Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP, CIFM, CTG*
Licensed in Texas & New Mexico
Bengtsson, Victor et al. “Narrative review of injuries in powerlifting with special reference to their association to the squat, bench press and deadlift.” BMJ open sport & exercise medicine vol. 4,1 e000382. 17 Jul. 2018, doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2018-000382
Core strength training helps manage back pain: Journal of Physical Therapy Science (March 2015) “Core strength training for patients with chronic low back pain.” https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jpts/27/3/27_jpts-2014-564/_article/-char/ja/
Millions of Americans experience back pain each day: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020) “Acute Low Back Pain.” https://www.cdc.gov/acute-pain/low-back-pain/
Free weights come with a greater risk of injury, compared to machines: National Strength and Conditioning Association (December 2000) “Roundtable Discussion: Machines Versus Free Weights.” http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.451.9285&rep=rep1&type=pdf
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