The word "deadlift" used to send me running. I thought lifting barbells was something you did to show off. But a good deadlift is simply the best way to lift heavy things---and once you have the form down, you'll use it even for lifting lighter things. Before you start talking about your knees, hips and ankles: I can think of very few of my clients who, for structural reasons, can't do a proper lift. And when you start to feel yourself get it right, it feels fantastic, and it starts to change ALL your bending and lifting patterns.
Watch the famous Gray Cook coach a deadlift below. If you're already deadlifting, compare your deadlift to the one in the video; does it look the same? If you haven't been deadlifting, it's best to get your deadlift assessed. You may need your deadlift regressed further than this guy. There are also different tricks you can do to help position the knees and ankles properly, which this video doesn't go into. I can take a look at your deadlift. For more specific personal training, please contact me for a referral.
In the meantime, it's still worth watching the video to get an idea of how different this lift differs from the way many of us try to lift heavy things. For example:
The first thing you may notice in the video is that the back isn't perpendicular to the ground---a lot of us were trained to keep our backs perfectly perpendicular when we lift something.
The second thing you notice is that you really have to get your bottom behind you---"the butt goes back" so that the spine stays in neutral (maintaining the natural lumbar curve). Many of us aren't used to sticking our bottoms back, but it's the best position for the discs of your back.
Finally, you'll see that he's put a stack under the bell so the lifter doesn't round his back. We can bet that guy was not using a stack till he came to that conference. But there's no shame in needing a stack! When he learns how to lengthen his hamstrings he'll be able to remove the stack. (Hint, hamstrings are often tight because either they or something else is weak. If they keep tightening up, get assessed so you can figure out why.)
All of these are components of the "hip hinge", a powerful way to protect the spine, and a subject for a future post.