Felt fine during dead hangs but your back is killing you the day after?

Is the soreness interfering with your deadlifts and other exercises?

Soreness in the back from too much dead-hanging can be intense.

Not only will this impair one’s ability to perform the deadlift, but the soreness will be intensely felt while doing squats.

If the muscles are overworked enough, you’ll feel a pronounced soreness even when you rise from a chair.

Don’t underestimate the effects of a static exercise when overdone.


Felt fine during dead hanging but your back is killing you the day after?

“Middle back soreness caused from hanging is most likely due to overtraining the muscles of the midback, like the rhomboids, lats and lower trapezius,” says Dr. Megan McLain, PT, DPT, cofounder of Intuitive Choice Physical Therapy & Wellness in Atlanta, GA.

She explains, “When you’re hanging, these muscles are stretched out a bit while they are also trying to work, which makes them more susceptible to micro-tearing or straining in that position, especially if they are not strong enough to handle it.

“If you have excessive soreness following dead hanging, then you’ll want to make sure that you’re properly strengthening the muscles involved, mentioned above.”

Prevention of Intense Back Soreness from Dead Hangs

“Rows, lat pull-downs and shoulder depression exercises should be included in your routine — starting slowly and then increasing the amount of weight you’re using and the length of time you’re holding the positions,” says Dr. McLain.

T-bar row. Samuel Girven/Unsplash

“When dead hanging, start for a short period of time, for instance, about 15 seconds if you’re just starting out, and then gradually increase your hold time to avoid excessive soreness and overtraining.”

What about subtracting body weight by grazing the front of the feet on the floor?

This can be done as a transition to being fully suspended.

However, beware: Weight subtraction won’t always prevent the soreness, which can be quite brutal and last a few days.

If your feet are somewhat dragging on the floor, you can still overdo the hanging.

Even if you haven’t dead hanged for several weeks but had been faithfully doing it prior, you should take your time getting back into it and not get ahead of yourself.

Some Good News

The middle back soreness, even if it’s very intense, is a situation of muscles, not ligaments or tendons.

As painful as the soreness may be, you’ll recover. Your spine was not wrenched during the dead hangs.

Thus, nothing was sprained. The muscles were simply overloaded.

If deadlifting, squatting and other exercises (such as floor bridging and other yoga moves) really hurt, avoid those for a few days or more if needed.

However, you need not wait for the soreness to be completely gone before resuming those exercises.

The key, though, is to be very mindful during each rep or position, and not get ahead of yourself.

If a submaximal weight load (relative to reps) brings on a lot of discomfort, stop there.

If you can do only one rep at a load for which you can normally do five, then just do one!

If the routine feels like torture, you’re not ready to resume; your back needs more rest time.

• Do not lie around all day; this will make the situation worse.

• When you can resume lifting, you may find that your back actually feels better after the workout than before.

• Letting high pressure hot water from a showerhead hit your back for 15 minutes will help relieve pain.

• Pain pills are not a smart idea. You need to feel the pain so that you know what movements to avoid around the house.

You also need to feel it to know how well it’s resolving.

Dr. Megan McLain, PT, DPT, puts her clients first while providing one-on-one in-home care. With physical therapy and health coaching services, Dr. McLain addresses all aspects such as physical barriers, mindset, accountability and knowledge that may be impacting the client’s experience.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 


Top image: Shutterstock/tommaso79