With the prevalance of back pain in adults today, how come more people aren’t deadlifting ? If you don’t have access to the equipment needed, then you are excused, but most adults have a membership to the local gym, which has everything you need. Everyone wants to train their core these days, whether it’s to become a better athlete or an average joe just trying to help prevent back pain. It has always baffled me as to why most people would grab a swiss ball and spend 30min doing all sorts of exercises that involve extreme forms of balance in order to strengthen their core, but have never, and will never deadlift. I get it, everyone else is doing it and the latest health magazine says you should do it, so lets improve our balance and hope our back doesn’t seize up when we bend over tomorrow.
There is a huge misconception that Deadlifting is only for Bodybuilders, Powerlifters, and massive steroid freaks at the gym. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are no exercises in this world that could prepare your back/spine/hips better for daily life than the Deadlift. All day long we bend forward to perform daily tasks, but training your body to bend forward in the gym under resistance, in order to strengthen it, seems like a ridiculous idea to everyone. It makes no sense. Bending forward and picking up a weight off the floor (Deadlifting) has always been, and always will be the best way to prepare your back for the stress and strain of forward bending in daily life. Planking, Bosu & Swiss Ball exercises etc cannot prepare your body in the same way as Deadlifting for bending forward to pick up your kids, working in the garden, picking up your dirty washing off the floor at home or a dropped pen off the ground at work.
If you do not have a medical condition that would prevent you from doing this exercise, it should be a staple in your routine, regardless of what sport you like to participate in. Whether you are an athlete or average joe, deadlifts will strengthen your back and help prevent back pain. This exercise simulates a forward bending movement performed often in your daily life and will directly prepare you for it. If you strengthen all the tissues involved in forward bending in the gym, then it is difficult to injure those same tissues when performing simple forward bending movements in your daily life. Of course Deadlifts need to be done with the correct amount of weight and with good form, otherwise like with any poorly performed exercise, injuries are common.
In my experience treating back pain every day for the last 10yrs, I can say that the patients that Deadlift, hardly ever come in to see me. It’s the ones that don’t deadlift, that get frequent back pain. Fancy balance equipment and training on Swiss Balls has its place in well designed exercise routines, injury rehabilitation and Pilates classes, but for most people looking for that magic exercise that does it all, looking to strengthen their spinal and pelvic stabilisers, get stronger and prevent back pain, do yourself a favour and pick a barbell up off the ground, then lower it back down to the floor, and repeat. You won’t be sorry you did.
Dr Warrick Botha