Michael came to the Shed for some deadlifting and squat work. Mike told me his back rounds when he deadlifts and wanted to see if we could fix it. We started warming up for deads and you can see in the pic below the back rounding stood out quite a bit.
Firstly, what is the issue with back rounding / lumbar spine flexion?
In the pic above you can see the intervertebral disc which sits in between each vertebrae. These act as shock absorbers to distribute pressure throughout the spine. For pressure to be distributed most effectively, the discs need to be aligned in the spines “natural curve”, which involves a slight arch or lordosis in the lower back. See below.
Needless to say when you are going for heavy squat or deadlift there is a lot of pressure going through your spine, and if this pressure isn’t distributed appropriately it can lead to degeneration of the intervertebral discs or injuries such as herniated discs. On the performance side, a flexed lumbar spine puts hip and abdominal muscles out of position which decreases their power output and can limit your strength.
We performed some assessments on Mike. Mike’s hamstrings and hip ranges of motion where fine, but he had extremely tight glutes and piriformis muscles which can contribute to making it hard to maintaining a neutral spine when pulling. Mike performed some glute and piriformis releases with a rumble roller and followed this up with some simple stretches to target the tight areas.
The mobility was followed up with some movement pattern training to get Mike to learn how to hinge with pelvis and spine control. The stick provides awareness – you can feel when you lose position.
If you are unable to deadlift without excessive flexion then ways you can work around it while you improve your positioning by elevating the bar slightly using blocks or plates. As your positioning improves you can work towards deadlifting off the floor.
Taller guys may have issues getting to the bar without rounding the back. If you compete in a sport other than powerlifting then you need ask yourself – do you need to deadlift off the floor if you cannot maintain a decent lower back position? It’s our opinion theres no shame in using a slight elevation it it helps you get in a safer and more effective position. As long as you don’t go overboard and turn it into an above the knee lockout, you will still be able to get the benefit of the deadlift – a strong posterior chain.
If you would like a movement screening to identify and correct movement deficiencies limiting your performance or increasing injury risk contact [email protected] or click here to book online Discounts available if you mention this article.