Maggie setting up to deadlift
Who needs to learn how to deadlift?
Everyone. Even though it may not be a weighted barbell, we all deadlift. If you pick up a child, a bag of groceries, a box of items to donate, a bucket of water....you deadlift. Simply said, the definition of a deadlift is picking something up from the ground and standing tall. Performing a deadlift with good form is imperative to reduce the risk of injury, particularly to the low back. Deadifting, in general, will make your back and legs stronger and provide you with the ability to do continue to do the things you love and stay active for the rest of your life. Education is key which is one of many reasons to train with an experienced coach.
Properly performed, here five reasons why everyone should deadlift:
1) “My back is weak/sore” is a reason to do deadlifts, NOT a reason to avoid them. Back pain can stem from weak glutes and weak spinal erectors that cannot maintain a specific position. The ability to develop strength and stability through the lumbar spinal muscles is one of the primary factors in preventing lumbar discogenic issues, as it helps buffer shear forces the disc is exposed to, which if left unchecked could result in a bulge, herniation, or even spondylolisthesis. Deadlifts train the spine to remain stable while exposed to high shear forces which makes you stronger.
2) Fat burning capability is dependent on the metabolically active tissue, as well as the rate of activity within that tissue. By having extra muscle mass and by having it cranked up to high neural activity means you have a greater chance of burning fat and getting lean if you lift heavy.
3) Childbirth can be easier by having a strong core and pelvic floor, and women can survive the rigors of delivery with fewer soft tissue injuries by having a strong deadlift prior to third trimester. Those who are very strong prior to conception will likely have an easier delivery and postpartum recovery as well.
4) Every athlete can improve at almost every dimension of their sport by improving their deadlift. Distance runners need to deadlift to improve velocity, efficiency, stride length, and sprinting power, all things important to running fast and to make your body more efficient.
5) Power and strength are the two defining characteristics that, when lost, determine function as we age. Losing power and strength limits your ability to do everything, from standing and sitting on the toilet to getting in and out of a car, to climbing stairs, and even breathing. Heavy deadlifts, when done properly, can help retain and even gain strength and power through the entire body, which improves functional outcome measures in old age and promotes independence.
The following video (courtesy of CrossFit.com) addresses the key points of performance for properly performing a deadlift. In the almost 8 years of teaching and coaching people to deadlift properly, I have never seen an injury. The injuries I hear about typically occur at home or work when someone is picking up a relatively light object with poor form and technique. The next time you start to pick up an object, regardless of how light or heavy it may be, keep these mechanics in mind and remember that proper technique is key.