Lower Back Pain Or Tightness During First Time Deadlifts?

February 21st 2020

If you are reading this article because you just finished deadlifting and you strained your back, look no further we got you covered.

We will give a brief overview on what you should do in case you think you strained your lower back and what you should after to recover.

For newer lifters, we will also give a rundown on what may have been the cause and what you can do in the future in order to prevent any pain from occurring.

We will also touch upon the difference between soreness and pain. One is good and the other, not so good.

With that being said, let’s get into what you should do after you experience lower back pain after deadlifting for the first time.

Deadlift first time lower back pain – immediate treatment

After experiencing lower back pain (whether it may be a jolt down your legs or a pinch in your back) you want to immediately stop your set/rep and take a breather.

Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Pain during a deadlift is not a normal sign and can be indicative of an underlying problem.

When you feel pain, the most important thing you can do is to stop and take some rest.

Even if you feel fine after sitting for a couple of minutes, I still suggest taking off the entire workout if you still feel that things still aren’t 100%.

After an injury, the most important thing you should do is rest and rehydrate. You will feel the full effect of any damage the next day which is what you will use to determine what you should do.

Deadlift first time lower back pain – long term treatment

If you don’t feel any pain the next day, good news! But you might want to give it some time before you deadlift again.

If you feel pain in your back and you have trouble bending over, getting out of bed, etc. then you may want to completely take off from the gym for a week.

With an acute lower back injury, there is not much you can do to accelerate the healing other than giving your body time to rest.

Ice and heat may help but they might also make it worse because, during the acute phase, you want your body to naturally heal itself rather than throwing things at it to see if it will speed it up which might actually slow it down.

So, give it some time, take off and relax a bit. If you work a strenuous job, you might want to talk to your supervisor to see if you can get a temporary medical leave.

The quicker you rest and take the stress off your back, the quicker you will be able to recover and get back to the gym and the rest of your life. 

If you try to push through the injury, it will only delay healing, and worst-case scenario, it might not even heal properly all the way which can result in chronic low back pain.

What about NSAIDS (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine)?

NSAIDs may be taken in the short-term when you feel that the pain is intolerable, or if you have no choice but to do an activity that might put some stress on the back.

However, like with all medicine, it’s not good to take it too frequently as taking it too frequently has been shown to delay healing.

Contrary to what most drug companies have you believe, a simple pill won’t solve the underlying issue, rest and sleep will...

Things to keep in mind for beginners for when you deadlift 

As a beginner, you might have had this experience or have heard of these tales and become hesitant to try deadlifting again

But the truth for the matter is the deadlift is a relatively safe exercise. In fact, it can be considered one of the safest.

This is because when you are about to fail a lift, you can simply let the bar go. 

You are not under the bar or the bar is not over your chest and neck where a failed rep can lead to bodily injury.

The only way that injury occurs during the deadlift is with using improper form and lifting mechanics, either because you are not aware of how to deadlift properly, or because of ego-lifting and you are trying to lift much more than you are able to handle.


Deadlifting for the first time and experiencing lower back pain is an instance that only those who have no knowledge on how to perform a deadlift get injured.

Learning how to deadlift is relatively easier than the other lifts as well.

We’re all born to pick things up from the ground, it just takes a few other cues such as puffing out your chest to get used to.

For those who are just getting started with learning the deadlift, I suggest you simply perform deadlifts with the bar and with lighter weight that you know you can handle.

Being able to deadlift a high number requires as much skill and technique as it does raw strength.

And skill and technique is what keeps you safe while performing the deadlift.

We have a separate article that describes how to perform the deadlift properly, you can check it out here.

On the other note, another reason why someone might injury their lower back when deadlifting for the first time may be if they are simply using too much weight.

If, while you lift, you worry about what others may perceive of you, this may cause you to put much more weight than you are capable of handling on the bar, and when you try to lift this weight, that is when your form breaks down and you strain something in your lower back.


The solution to this, which is a lot easier said than done, is to focus on yourself and yourself only.

Compare yourself to the person you were the other day, rather than to the lifter who’s been lifting for over 5 years.

When you do so, you’ll be able to focus and train on what you and your body needs. By doing so, you will be able to lift smart, lift safely, which will allow you to get stronger over time.

Difference between soreness and pain?

The final thing I want to note here is the difference between soreness and pain.

This might be something that is difficult to distinguish especially for newer lifters who have not had the experience of training their lower back before.

Soreness usually occurs the day after and it is something you feel but not something that nags at you for the entire day.

You will still be able to perform all your required activities/tasks/movements.

On the other hand, pain can be in the form of a sharp stabbing pain that radiates down your back and into your legs, or pain that is made worse in certain positions.

This is the type of pain you should take rest with. 

If it feels like soreness, you shouldn’t feel like you need to take a rest unless if you’re extremely sore which can be indicative of using a weight that is too heavy for you to handle.

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