Deadlift – Lumbar Flexion

Lumbar flexion is a rounding of the lower back when you lift. Flexion of the spine puts it in a vulnerable position with a much higher risk of serious back injury. Often this occurs during a heavy or near max load in a big lift.

What if you experience it even during your lift setup, even while not under a load?

This isn’t uncommon with newer lifters. As you set up for the deadlift, bending to reach for the bar your lower back rounds. Often this is because your hips are rotated to the anterior – the upper portion of the hip shifts backwards creating a rounded lower back.

It can be difficult to consciously rotate your hips to the anterior – shift the upper portion of your hips forward. Here is a tip I’ve used successfully to address this issue during setup, until the lifting pattern is internalized and becomes automatic:

  • Instead of simply bending over to grab the bar, treat this first setup step like a Romanian Deadlift: push your hips back and arch your lower back slightly, bringing your chest down as your hips push backwards. Allow your knees to flex as needed to reach the bar.

In addition to this setup tip, there are a couple other things you may need to work on:

  • Hip Mobility: If your hamstrings are tight, you will have limited mobility for hip flexion (can you bend over and reach your toes without bending your knees?). Work on your hamstring flexibility.
  • Strengthen and Activate your Spinal Erectors: High volume/low weight Romanian Deadlifts, emphasizing flattening or slightly arching your lower back can help internalize the hip pattern for these movements.

If you have issues with your lower back rounding, make sure you have your hips set right for the lift.

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