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Why People Can’t Deadlift

core training

Several months ago I was at a major fitness conference presenting and apart of a Q & A panel. During this period a fitness coach from the audience asked, “I have a client with two spinal fusions in his low back and he doesn’t want to deadlift so what should I do?” Already in my head I had a million ideas and reasons why, but one of the most well known coaches jumped in and said, “you should fire them.”

You can imagine my disbelief when I heard that response, mostly because as coaches our job is to try to find solutions. If there are absolutely none and the person is just trying to be noncompliant that is one thing, but prefacing the question with the person having two spinal fusions made me think we hadn’t gotten anywhere close to that point yet.


Okay, it is a bit of a sensitive subject for me because I have my own health issues. 

A lot of people with pain and something traumatic can also suffer from kinesiophobia. What’s that?!

Kinesiophobia is defined as “an excessive, irrational, and debilitating fear of physical movement and activity resulting from a feeling of vulnerability due to painful injury or reinjury.” In simple terms, certain movements can drive us to stress and fear related symptoms even just thinking about specific patterns. For many with low back pain, a hip hinge still appears to be the same type of movement that caused their back injury in the first place.

So, how can we help as we ultimately don’t want people to have great fear and apprehension of doing any movement, especially those that can be very beneficial.

Start More Foundational

The most foundational level of a hip hinge is a hip bridge. Noticed I said hip bridge and not hip thrust. That isn’t just a matter of semantics, but referring to the issue that many think just trying to get their hips up in the air is the goal. In fact, the goal of the hip bridge is to get the glutes to work more effectively with the hamstrings and low back by driving the feet into the ground.

Give More Feedback

A lot of times, people just don’t understand how to use their bodies well. That is what we should be coaching when we cue an exercise and do so that helps people not learn body parts, but how to use their body. These can be simple strategies as physical therapist, Jessica Bento breaks down below.

Reduce The Range Of Motion

One of the simplest and most overlooked ways to introduce hip hinging to anyone (not just those with pain) is to reduce the range of motion. Not only does this reduce fear, but often it is where people need to begin because they don’t know how to create proper stability in the body and how to intentionally lift the weight.

Don’t Hip Hinge

If someone has a large amount of fear doing a movement, we shouldn’t feel stuck in finding alternatives. Especially if we think about building success so that the individual not only gets stronger, but more confidence in their movement skills. A drill that helps keep people upright, builds stability, and strength of the posterior chain are step-ups. Since they are so easy to adjust to anyone’s fitness level we can find some level that works for anyone.

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