One of the most overlooked issues with back pain are tight hamstrings, but the stiff-leg deadlift could be your solution.
The upper back, spine, glutes, hamstrings, and calf muscles all belong to the posterior chain. Better put, the muscles you can’t see in the mirror.
These groups work together when taken care of. Any weak spots in this chain eventually cause pain.
With tight hamstrings, your pelvis is pulled down and rolled back away from your spine. This forces your back into an unstable flat position. The lumbar curve disappears and pain ensues.
Introducing The Stiff-leg Deadlift
This exercise is otherwise known as the Romanian deadlift. When you’re looking to strengthen and stretch your hamstrings, this movement is superb.
This exercise isolates the hamstrings (and the glutes) from the lower back. When you do these correctly, stiff-legged deadlifts will do more for your overall strength and flexibility than any other movement.
The “How To”
Form is imperative here. The key is to keep your legs nearly straight (a little bend is okay) through the entire movement.
- Never lock out the knees.
- Keep feet about shoulder width apart. A little less is fine.
When setting up on the bar, keep your feet under your hips and pick the bar up as with a standard deadlift. While standing (your legs are straight) lower the bar to the floor slowly. Repeat for your predetermined reps.
Important Tip – as the bar is on its way down, try to push your hips back as far as you can. This will make you feel like you are falling onto your heels – that is natural. You will fully stretch your hamstrings as you do this.
In time, stiff-legged deadlifts will give you tremendous strength gains, making this multi-joint exercise worth it. Go ahead, give them a try!
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.