I hurt my back deadlifting, and I’m glad I did! - Upright Health

I hurt my back deadlifting, and I’m glad I did!

vincent deadlifting

This is me in 2017 setting a national record for my weight class in the deadlift.

People often think that because I lift heavy weights and don’t have any current injuries that I’ve never been injured. But that’s not true. Let me tell you about how I hurt my back deadlifting.

It was June 2015. I’d been powerlifting training for about a year, and in that time I had managed to capture the state records for my weight class as well as qualify for national events. My progress was solid.

I had just competed in a powerlifting meet the week prior, and instead of taking it easy for a while, I quickly returned to heavy training, figuring I had recovered enough because I felt fine. I didn’t really know exactly what I was doing at the time, except that what I’d been doing all along had never gotten me injured.

Until it did.

How I hurt my back deadlifting

There I was at my gym, in a familiar environment, with familiar equipment, deadlifting a familiar weight with a familiar form, when I felt a sharp, alarming pain in my lower back. “Odd. That’s new.” Figuring I was “young and invincible”, I shrugged off the novel sensation and did a few more reps. ZING. I felt it again.

And again. And again. And again. And again. It would happen repeatedly for months every time I’d warm up to a certain weight. I’d take longer and longer breaks from deadlifting after each incident, but each time I tried to regain my old personal records, I’d just hit the same frustrating wall of pain, and at increasingly lighter weights to boot. At one point, I couldn’t even reach for my toes without feeling excruciating pain shoot down my leg. To go from lifting nearly three times my bodyweight to having trouble merely bending over was demoralizing to say the least.

And so that was my life for the next two years. An endless cycle of taking time off, training patiently back towards previous weights, and getting injured again. Each time I’d swear I’d figure it out the next time. I was the epitome of Sisyphus, condemned to an eternity of rolling an immense boulder uphill, only to watch it roll back down again.

Getting rid of my back pain took time

But I was stubborn. I refused to accept that my best days were behind me. I sought out everything I could on how to fix myself. I experimented with countless exercises, techniques, training programs, and disregarded how many times I had to fail – disregarded how many times I had to see my boulder roll back downhill before I could get the chance to try yet another way of rolling it back up.

After two exhaustive years of trial and error, I overcame the problem. I now deadlift more than I did pre-injury. It’s been years since that I’ve felt that excruciating “zing” down my low back, and I know I’m not ever going to experience it again because I took the time to gain a deep understanding of why my injury happened in the first place.

Through this journey, I’ve also gained a passion for helping others learn to lift better and live better!  

Though I entered personal training to educate clients about general fitness, I’ve since become a specialist in helping people understand how they can solve their own problems with pain and performance. I am now obsessed with troubleshooting every movement dysfunction I encounter.

My life after I hurt my back deadlifting

Every month I see clients from all over the country who walk in with knee pain, back pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, and I am blessed with the privilege of making profound differences in their lives by coaching them and helping them understand the connection between their aches and pains and how they move and manage stress.

Because I persevered, I now find myself in a career that enriches my life, heightens my sense of purpose, and has me excited for the challenges of every tomorrow. 

And I am now able to deadlift like a fiend without fear of injury as you can see in this video.

Suffering a back injury from deadlifting was the best thing that ever happened to me. 


About the Author

Vincent's first passion is powerlifting. Over the years, his desire to master his body and mind have led him into deep explorations in stretching, mobility, and mindfulness.