Avoiding Low Back Injuries With Squatting And Deadlifting

Low back pain is very common among weight lifters, however can be prevented or improved by some simple technique modifications to help take stress off the low back. I’m sure if you’ve been to a gym, you’ve seen some awful technique. Now let’s talk about some steps we can take to not become “that guy” at the gym.

1. Avoid rounding your back. Rounding your back puts a great deal of stress on the structures of the low back and is a common scenario for low back disc issues.

2. Stay tight. Keeping your upper back muscles and core tight will help better transfer the weight from the bar to your feet, helping you to lift more weight safely.

3. Bend the bar. When squatting attempt to bend the bar across your back, and when deadlifting attempt to bend the bar by turning your hands out and pulling your shoulder blades back.  This will help to engage your lats and help to stabilize the back from top to bottom.

4. Spread the Floor. “Spreading the floor” will help to activate your hip muscles which will help to take stress away from the low back and place it in the hips to help you generate more power.

5. Save the belt for the max lifts. Doing your warm-up and lighter sets without a belt can help develop crucial muscles in your low back.  No doubt a belt can help you lift more by increasing stability, but save if for the heavier sets.

6. Lift with a partner. You may not notice your technique flaws, but having someone else there to let you know where your lacking can be a very valuable tool to help your lifting. If this isn’t an option, try videotaping yourself and watch the video to see if your low back rounds or form breaks down in any way.

Good luck, and happy, safe lifting!


1) Raske, Åse, and Rolf Norlin. “Injury incidence and prevalence among elite weight and power lifters.” The American journal of sports medicine 30.2 (2002): 248-256.

2) McGill, Stuart. Low back disorders: evidence-based prevention and rehabilitation. Human Kinetics, 2007.

3) McGill, Stuart. Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance. 2006.