It’s one of the most common reasons you want to skip deadlifting day: excruciating lower back pain that rears its ugly head a day or two after your lift—or sometimes, even while you’re still working out.
Back pain when deadlifting is super common, but it’s not normal, says trainer Tony Gentilcore, C.S.C.S., owner of CORE in Boston, Mass. In fact, it’s usually an indication you’re doing something wrong with your lift.
“It’s fine to feel a little fatigue or tiredness in your back the day after deadlifting,” Gentilcore says. “But if you wake up the next day and it’s affecting your day to day activity, like it’s hard to bend over and it’s hard to twist, or you are apprehensive to sit up and down or to roll over in bed, that would tell me that your technique needs a little work.”
A deadlift is a full-body movement, but if you’re doing it right, you should definitely feel it more on your backside—think hamstrings, glutes, the erector muscles along your spine, and your back muscles. So yes, a deadlift will work your back (which is why some people incorporate it on back day instead of leg day), but if you feel pain there, that’s not a good sign.
Most causes of deadlifting back pain occur because of how you’re approaching and executing the lift. Here, 6 of the most common reasons you’re feeling back pain after deadlifting—and what you can do to lift pain-free.