The Romanian Deadlift is a great exercise to strengthen your lower back even for those with past lower back injuries. Even people who have a herniated disc or even multiple herniated discs can do these once they are well recovered. In fact, I prefer people to perform this exercise in order to strengthen their lower back to prevent any future re-injuries. Oh and yes, this is a hamstring exercise, but your back has to hold on for the ride, therefore strengthening it.
The Fine Line
There is a fine line between doing this exercise to strengthen your lower back and mistakenly doing it wrong resulting in injury to your lower back. Doing this exercise correctly will strengthen your hamstrings, back, and engrain the hip hinge motion which is important to protecting your lower back. If you do it incorrectly, you then produce direct force through the intervertebral discs that you previously injured and through the low back in general. The common mistakes people make are:
Take a look at the video and you will notice that I keep my knees bent, back flat, and I stick with a range of motion that is ideal for me.
It may take a little experimentation with the Romanian Deadlift to nail it down, but if done correctly it will greatly strengthen your lower back.
Want to dig a little deeper? Read on.
Will it actually strengthen my lower back?
This raises the question of whether deadlifts strengthen the lower back muscles or if there is something else it does to improve strength in general making people think their lower back is stronger.
To keep it short, here are the benefits of deadlifts that can contribute to lower back “strength”:
- Strengthens the posterior chain: Hams, glutes, back (upper and lower).
- Strengthens the glutes which will always make your lower back feel better.
- Teaches how to properly pick an object up off the ground.
- Engrains the hip hinge motion. Some versions more than others.
- Teaches a flat or near flat back while lifting
- Improves lower back endurance especially with high reps.
- Improves function, being that it’s a fully integrated exercise.
Now some of these benefits are debatable, but even if you only gain one of these, they are still very much worth doing. My opinion: You will receive all of these benefits. That is why I have all of my clients doing some form of deadlifts.
This post and www.jyfit.com is for general informational and educational purposes only. The information in this post or on www.jyfit.com should not be construed as medical advice.
1) James Steele, Stewart Bruce-Low and Dave Smith. A review of the specificity of exercises extensors designed for conditioning the lumbar. Br J Sports Med published online October 3, 2013. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092197.
2) McGill. 2007. Low Back Disorders: Evidence-Based Prevention and Rehabilitation, Second Edition. Champaign, IL. Human Kinetics.