Stiff back after deadlifts and squats

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airhog
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Stiff back after deadlifts and squats

Post by airhog » Thu Mar 12, 2009 9:02 am

When i get done doing my last set of squats sometimes, and usually after my last deadlift rep, my lower back gets really stiff. THis lasts for about 10-15 minutes, before settling down. There is no acute pain when I lift, or anything that goes along with the stiffness either. After the 10-15 minutes my back feels fine, and I havent had any other back problems either.

Does anyone else experience this? It seems to be a bit more pronounced as my weight continues to climb. 215 squat and 235 deadlift.


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Post by Onlyethic » Thu Mar 12, 2009 10:04 am

Yes, I get this as well. I also have no pain, just some stiffness after squat and dl. I think it's basically the muscle being fatigued from the exercise but still having to be engaged -- since you're standing (or otherwise holding your torso erect).

I have been going straight from my DL or squat sets to stretch on the floor. Basically, I lie down on my back, raise my legs, bend my knees (in a ball position), and rock back and forth to roll my lower back over the ground. It helps dramatically. After doing this and a few static lower back stretches I can go back to my workout without any stiffness in my lower back (and generally less discomfort the next day).

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Post by KPj » Thu Mar 12, 2009 10:21 am

hmmm... Dr Stuart McGill (and others) have refered to that as 'picking a scab' - feels good but actually makes things worse. The scab is there for a reason.

To the OP - i would just say check your form. The DL is hard on the lower back so it is likely you'll feel some fatigue in it. However, you may feel it much worse if your rounding your lower back in the lift. So, do a form check - make sure your keeping the arc in the lower back.

I would also suggest you also review how you warm up, both your actual warm up (if you do one) and your warm up sets.

KPj

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Post by airhog » Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:01 pm

KPj wrote:hmmm... Dr Stuart McGill (and others) have refered to that as 'picking a scab' - feels good but actually makes things worse. The scab is there for a reason.

To the OP - i would just say check your form. The DL is hard on the lower back so it is likely you'll feel some fatigue in it. However, you may feel it much worse if your rounding your lower back in the lift. So, do a form check - make sure your keeping the arc in the lower back.

I would also suggest you also review how you warm up, both your actual warm up (if you do one) and your warm up sets.

KPj
Thanks for the suggestions. It is very difficult to check my form for 2 reasons

1. I am the only person that squats properly.
2. I am the only person that deadlifts

and I kid you not. I have never seen another person in the gym do a standard deadlift. several people do squat, but they do it so poorly that it makes me cringe. And I would be hesitant to ask anyone that doesn't do the two exercises to check my form. Ill try to get a video camera in the gym and get my wife to record my form, since that seems like the only way I am ever going to know for sure.


If only I lived closer to Whichita Falls, I'd have a membership to Riptoe's gym. I am sure I would get the help with form checks down there :D

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Post by Jungledoc » Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:07 pm

You shouldn't need to stretch your lumbar spine into extension ever. You should probably be stretching your quads, activating our hamstrings and glutes.

Your low back muscles don't like something about what you are doing. Even if they aren't hurting now, if you keep lifting, and keep increasing load, they will.

I'd look at posture issues first, then at form on these exercises. As KPj said, you should maintain a neutral back during these exercises. "Neutral" does NOT mean "flat", but with a normal amount of lumbar lordosis (curving in). You need to maintain this position throughout both the DL and the squat.

The basic form cues on these exercises are to help protect your back (among other things). On squat keep the chest high, and the shoulder blades pulled back and together, weight on the heels. Take a big "belly breath", one that feels like you are filling your belly with air, then hold your breath and push your abdominal muscles out as though stretching the waist band of your gym shorts, and tighten your low back muscles. Maintain this muscle tension throughout the lift. Start the hips moving back before the knees bend, go at least to parallel and then drive up. The low back should maintain it's lordotic curve throughout. Slowly let your breath out without releasing the tension in your ab and low back muscles after you pass your sticking point on the way up.

If you aren't familiar with the SquatRX videos, you should be. They are the best free resource on the subject on the net. The author is Boris Bachman, who does these videos as a labor of love.
http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p ... 8F10C4DE1F
Also see Boris' blog: http://squatrx.blogspot.com/2008/06/squ ... -pain.html
And a related blog, but not as relevant to you: http://squatrx.blogspot.com/2008/07/squ ... rt-ii.html

On DL a lot of the same form cues apply; head up enough to keep the neck neutral, chest up, scapulae back and tight, weight on the heels, neutral lumbar spine, belly breath and "lock" your "core" muscles. Maintain a very tight low back and belly throughout the lift.

For positioning and mechanics, see Rippetoe's videos, most of which are listed at:
http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=tim ... iew=videos

Sorry for the long post. I guess I've been taking what KPj takes!


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Post by KPj » Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:19 pm

(wow, that Jungledoc likes to bang on A LOT, doesnt he? )

In all seriousness, though - read what Jungledoc wrote.

On top of that, I know what you mean on not being able to see your form. It's a problem i've had/have myself. However, you can raise your awareness - Basically, learn what a 'neutral spine' feels like, so that you know by how you 'feel'.

One movement (hip mobility) that I've found to be good for people who round over and especially people who just don't 'get' how to use their hips, is...

Kneeling RockBacks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9HXov96 ... annel_page

Basically, you arc your back, and push back with your hands, keeping the arc in your back consciously tight. You move back until you feel the arc begin to straighten, don't go any further than that. You're learning to 'keep the arc'.

If you practice that, it'll build your awareness and you'll be able to tell when your losing the arc.

It's um... An interesting one to do in public.

KPj

EDIT: Just an aside, and not related. If you do the exact same movement with a leg outstretched to the side, it becomes an amazing adductor mobilisation. If you have tight adductors or are prone to groin strains, it's a great movement to do..
Last edited by KPj on Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Jungledoc » Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:20 pm

Check your own form by having someone shoot short videos for you to review.

Also, I noticed that your squat is relatively heavy compared to your DL. I'd usually expect someone who squats 215 to be DLing heavier. I'm not sure what that means, but it's a discrepancy.

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Post by Jungledoc » Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:23 pm

Do you get the impression that we're all typing at once? It's 3:20 AM in PNG, and I have insomnia. Maybe I'm worried about the PR DL that I'm going to try for later today.

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Post by airhog » Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:40 pm

Jungledoc wrote:Check your own form by having someone shoot short videos for you to review.

Also, I noticed that your squat is relatively heavy compared to your DL. I'd usually expect someone who squats 215 to be DLing heavier. I'm not sure what that means, but it's a discrepancy.
Its really just because I started both the DL and squat from the same starting weight. Neither one has stalled yet, and both are progressing at the same rate, although it really feels like my squat is going to start progressing slower.

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Post by Jungledoc » Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:24 pm

airhog wrote:
Jungledoc wrote:Check your own form by having someone shoot short videos for you to review.

Also, I noticed that your squat is relatively heavy compared to your DL. I'd usually expect someone who squats 215 to be DLing heavier. I'm not sure what that means, but it's a discrepancy.
Its really just because I started both the DL and squat from the same starting weight. Neither one has stalled yet, and both are progressing at the same rate, although it really feels like my squat is going to start progressing slower.
OK. No big deal then.

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Post by Proper Knob » Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:43 pm

There was an article on T-Nation about the relationships between different lifts. Your barbell squat should be around 71.4% of your deadlift. I know that's incredibly precise but that's what was printed.

So after i bit of pedantic math. By my reckoning if you can squat 215, you should be DLing around 300.

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Post by ninjackn » Thu Mar 12, 2009 2:17 pm

Proper Knob wrote:There was an article on T-Nation about the relationships between different lifts. Your barbell squat should be around 71.4% of your deadlift. I know that's incredibly precise but that's what was printed.
www.t-nation.com/readArticle.do?id=1823834

Honestly I think that 71.4% gives a false sense of precision and it should just be 70% but I have a number/math/science fetish so feel free to ignore me.

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Post by Onlyethic » Thu Mar 12, 2009 8:32 pm

KPj wrote:hmmm... Dr Stuart McGill (and others) have refered to that as 'picking a scab' - feels good but actually makes things worse. The scab is there for a reason.

KPj
which part is scab-picking? what i'm doing with post-lift stretching?

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Post by KPj » Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:16 am

Onlyethic wrote: which part is scab-picking? what i'm doing with post-lift stretching?
Well, stretching the lower back at all when it's not needed, but especially during a training session.

When you have back pain, quite often, giving the lower back a good stretch can create immediate relief. But, if your issue is basically down to having stiff hips and therefore too much movement at the lower back, then stretching it is just adding to the problem. The 'relief' you feel when you do is like picking a scab, or scratching a rash, or something like that. The point in the analogies is basically, "just because it feels good, doesn't mean it helps".

Repeated flexion (rounding) over time, can often be the cause of the discomfort in the first place. That, and the fact that when most stretch the lower back, they actually stretch the ligaments as well, because your lower back just doesn't have much ROM, naturally. Unless of course, you force it (by stretching it).

That's not to say it's always bad. Some people genuinely have short lumbar erectors. In that case, it'll need stretched, although emphasis would be on stretching it properly i.e stretching it enough to lenghten the muscles with minimal stress to the ligaments.

I used to get an achy back after squats. I never thought anything of it, not even enough to 'google it'. Itwas years ago, and I always thought it was a good thing, and meant my lower back was working. I got rid of it by stretching it after squats. The fact was, I was tight as a drum and I squated incorrectly....

When I was working on sorting out my posture, I found that doing sets of birddogs would get rid of achyness and stiffness in my back. I think it's simply because of increased blood flow to that area. I had a little routine - Hipflexor stretches, glute bridges, then birddogs, and the pain or stiffness would just go away. It's worth trying something like that, see if it helps. It's hard to say if it will. My training partner had propper back problems. I just had general 'achyness/stiffness' - you know, when your not sure if it's your back, or your kidneys or somethign that's sore. It actually turned out that my training partner had short erectors. But he got that comfirmed by a good physio, and was actually coached on how to stretch it. Strangely, we got rid of his back pain over a year ago. Without any lower back stretches. But recently he had a oblique/QL injury, and that's when it was discovered. The body is a bizarre thing.


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Post by Onlyethic » Fri Mar 13, 2009 6:14 am

hi KPj,

that's very interesting to note. I've actually found lately, as I've been stretching my hips as you suggested in the feet-related thread, that the lower back stiffness has mostly disappeared. The feeling I sometimes get tho is a bit like pump, as in arm-pump, where it seems as if the muscle is completely enervated.

In any case, the hip stretching has been making a difference in many respects. So, I'll stay away from the scab-picking for now and see what happens. Good to know.


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