Modified deadlift is a helpful exercise to know for exercising safely with prolapse problems or after a hysterectomy,
Deadlift is a strengthening exercise for the lower back, buttocks and thighs. It’s a highly effective exercise however pelvic floor and/or lower back injury can result when performed using inappropriate technique.
Deadlift is easily modified to reduce pressure on the pelvic floor (and lower back).
This Physiotherapist video demonstrates 2 modified deadlift techniques (barbell and dumbbell) that reduce the risk of pelvic floor injury when compared with traditional technique.
Suitability: Beginners to intermediate strengthening
Video duration: 4.48 mins
Please scroll down for written guidelines for modifying and correctly performing the deadlift exercise and protecting your pelvic floor.
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Benefits of Modified Deadlift
When performed well, deadlift is an effective exercise for strengthening and toning:
- Hips and buttocks
- Lower and upper back
Benefits of modifying the deadlift include:
- Strengthening and toning the buttocks, back and thighs
- Promoting improved bone health in the hips and lower back
- Reducing pelvic floor strain to reduce the risk of prolapse or prolapse worsening
- Decreasing the risk of lower back injury
- Minimizing strain on the upper back
Traditional Deadlift Barbell Technique
Deadlift is commonly performed using a barbell in the gym.
Traditional deadlift technique usually involves:
- Standing close to the bar placed at ground level
- Positioning the body with feet wide apart stance
- Reaching forward and grabbing the bar with hands approximately shoulder width apart
- Taking the tension of the bar through the shoulders and upper back before lifting
- Keeping the chest raised while lifting the barbell
- Maintaining the normal inward curve in the lower back during the movement
- Lowering the plates to touch the ground before repeating the next lift
How to Modify Deadlift to Minimise Pelvic Floor Strain
1.Modified Barbell Deadlift
- Use an unweighted barbell or barbell weighted with light plates. Make sure that the weight you lift is manageable and doesn’t cause you to strain during lifting.
- You may choose to stand side on to a mirror to check that your spine stays straight with an inward lower back curve during this exercise.
- Stand close to the bar
- Start standing with your feet slightly apart rather than wide apart
- Reach forward and grabbing the bar with hands approximately shoulder width apart
- Lift the bar off an elevated bench rather than from ground level
- Take the tension of the bar through the shoulders and upper back before lifting
- Keep your chest raised while lifting the bar
- Breathe out while lifting the bar
- Lower the bar keeping it close to the front of the thighs no lower than knee level
- Breathe out while lowering the bar
- Maintain the normal inward curve in the lower back during the whole movement
Progress the number of repetitions and then the weight as your form and strength improve over time.
2. Modified Dumbbell Deadlift
The modified barbell deadlift can be performed in the gym or at home.
Modified dumbbell deadlift technique involves:
- Starting out using very light dumbbells ensuring that the weights don’t cause you strain
- Standing with your feet slightly apart
- Holding the dumbbells beside your outer thighs with straight arms and palms facing backwards
- Keeping your chest raised throughout
- Breathing in while lowering the dumbbells
- Keeping the dumbbells next to your outer thighs as you lower them towards your knees (no lower than knee level)
- Breathing out while returning to standing
- Maintaining the normal inward curve in the lower back throughout
The number of repetitions and the size of the weight can be gradually progressed as your form and strength improve over time.
Key Points for Modifying Deadlift
- Modified deadlift can be performed using a barbell or dumbbells
- Avoid wide leg stance
- Keep the size of the weight manageable and always avoid strain for safe lifting
- Breathe out as you return to standing from the lean forward position
- Avoid leaning too far forward – bending forwards increases pelvic floor loading
- Use knee level as your forward reaching limit when lowering your weight
- Maintain the normal inward curve in the lower back throughout.