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Which Patients With Low Back Pain Benefit From Deadlift Training?

Berglund, Lars1,2; Aasa, Björn2; Hellqvist, Jonas1; Michaelson, Peter3; Aasa, Ulrika1

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: July 2015 - Volume 29 - Issue 7 - p 1803–1811
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000837
Original Research

Berglund, L, Aasa, B, Hellqvist, J, Michaelson, P, and Aasa, U. Which patients with low back pain benefit from deadlift training? J Strength Cond Res 29(7): 1803–1811, 2015—Recent studies have indicated that the deadlift exercise may be effective in decreasing pain intensity and increasing activity for most, but not all, patients with a dominating pattern of mechanical low back pain. This study aimed to evaluate which individual factors measured at baseline could predict activity, disability, and pain intensity in patients with mechanical low back pain after an 8-week training period involving the deadlift as a rehabilitative exercise. Thirty-five participants performed deadlift training under the supervision of a physical therapist with powerlifting experience. Measures of pain-related fear of movement, hip and trunk muscle endurance, and lumbopelvic movement control were collected at baseline. Measures of activity, disability, and pain intensity were collected at baseline and at follow-up. Linear regression analyses were used to create models to predict activity, disability, and pain intensity at follow-up. Results showed that participants with less disability, less pain intensity, and higher performance on the Biering-Sørensen test, which tests the endurance of hip and back extensor muscles, at baseline benefit from deadlift training. The Biering-Sørensen test was the most robust predictor because it was included in all predictive models. Pain intensity was the next best predictor as it was included in 2 predictive models. Thus, for strength and conditioning professionals who use the deadlift as a rehabilitative exercise for individuals with mechanical low back pain, it is important to ensure that clients have sufficient back extensor strength and endurance and a sufficiently low pain intensity level to benefit from training involving the deadlift exercise.

Departments of 1Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Physiotherapy; and

2Surgical and Perioperative Sciences, Orthopaedics, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden; and

3Department of Health Science, Division of Health and Rehabilitation, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden

Address correspondence to Lars Berglund,

Copyright © 2015 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.