Deadlifts are a part of our daily lives, whether we practice them in the gym or not! In this blog I will be going over the 4 main types of deadlifts that we teach our patients at CaliSpine to apply in their daily tasks. Deadlifts can be extremely complex, so for simplicity, I will only have you focus on maintaining a flat back and make sure that you feel tension in the back of your legs and glutes. If your back hurts before or after doing any of these motions with light weight, refer to our blog on the types of lower back pain.

This video of the deadlift is very basic, and is not meant to teach you how to lift hundreds of pounds. There is a lot more that goes into a proper deadlift than is explained in this video. I want you to be able to apply these basic motions for lifting light objects like bags, potted plants, furniture, or even pencils from the ground. This motion ensures that your spine stays neutral, rather than bending over and rounding the low back, compromising your discs.

Romanian (Straight-Leg) Deadlift

The RDL (Left image) is the motion that our patients use the most in their daily lives with or without weight. By sitting your hips back, maintaining a flat back, and hinging forward as you lean over a counter (right image), you prevent strain on the lower back muscles and discs. When practicing this motion, you should feel tension in the glutes and hamstrings, not your lower back! Observe yourself doing this motion in the mirror and look to see if your back arches or rounds as you hinge over; your back should stay flat. All too often people stand over a workbench, sink, or counter with a rounded posture (middle image)… no wonder your neck, shoulders, and back bother you!

deadlift rounded back flat back

Single-Leg Romanian DeadliftSingle-Leg Romanian Deadlift Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifting

This is a motion I use very often to pick up objects that are light and close to the floor. The S/L RDL is an incredible strengthening exercise with heavy weight, but if you need to pick up something quickly, this movement is simple and protects the lower back.

Pretend you have a metal rod going from your head to your heel. Make sure that your upper body and leg stay in line and keep your back flat. If you have difficulty balancing… practice makes perfect! The more you do this, the more your balance will improve. This is one of the easiest ways for patients to pick up objects without reinjuring their lower back.

Sumo DeadliftSumo Deadlifting for Lower BackSumo Deadlift for Lower Back

This is a powerful movement for your daily life. I have patients using the sumo deadlift to pick up wider objects like furniture, potted plants, moving boxes, etc. Notice that the hips are much lower in the sumo deadlift compared to the normal deadlift, yet the back remains flat!