Fastpitch Friday Ep.28 Strategies to Avoid Low Back Pain for the Trap Bar Deadlift

The trap bar deadlift has an array of benefits both softball pitchers and position players can benefit from to help them throw harder and improve their throwing motion. Despite these benefits, some strength coaches are nervous to use this exercise in the fear that these athletes will hurt their back. On this week's episode of Fastpitch Friday I explain 3 strategies coaches and players can implement to help avoid low back pain. 

1) Footwear


There are millions of different training shoes out there. When looking for a solid shoe to deadlift in we want to avoid shoes with a high heel lift or a cushiony shoe. These shoes tend to biased one's bodyweight forward (more weight on their toes). When more weight is towards your toes it makes it harder for you to power the deadlift with your posterior chain (hamstrings and glutes). 

Instead, choose to go barefoot or use a minimalist shoe to help keep your body weight centered and make it easier for you to engage your posterior chain to dominant this lift. 


2) Hip placement

 One of the biggest mistakes I see people making when performing the trap bar deadlift is they usually fall to one or the other extremes on this continuum. The either try and make it a pure hip hinge pattern like a Romanian deadlift or strict good mornings or they try they end up squatting the trap bar. 

Greg Nuckols made this awesome Squat-Hinge continuum to explain the moment arms and hip placement to give people a better understanding of how to perform each exercise. Nuckol's states "The trap bar deadlift is a bit “squattier” than a barbell deadlift, but it’s definitely still a hinge pattern, and nowhere close to being a squat." When performing the trap bar deadlift you need to make sure that your hips are higher than your knees and your chest is not parallel with the ground. 

3) Over-Extending With The Lower Back

This problem is a good sign that players are trying to "pull" the trap bar off the floor versus "pushing" the trap bar off the floor. When players try and pull they end up using their lower back to extend their hips sometimes resulting in low back pain. To avoid this first explain the difference between pulling with the arms and pushing with your legs. The arms are just hooks, the legs and butt are where the horsepower is coming from. Then, cue them to stand tall or try and crack a walnut between their butt-cheeks at the top. 

Lastly, Nuckols has even found that there is a (Likely) higher transfer to other sports stating "Two studies (onetwo) have now found that peak power and peak velocity with a variety of loads are higher with the trap bar deadlift than the conventional deadlift.  This would likely mean a slightly superior training effect for sports that rely on high power outputs or high velocities of movement (i.e. basically all of them)."

Start Trap Bar Deadlifting

For coaches to avoid the trap bar deadlift because of fear of injury is silly. If you are struggling to find success in coaching this exercise reach out to a recognized coach in your area and learn from them. In the meantime, use these 3 strategies to help athletes learn how to trap bar deadlift and avoid low back pain.