Clinical Breakdown – Train…A Trainer…With This Deadlift Info

Sporty people bend their knees before exercise

The post that will put you ahead of 99% of fitness trainers…in any gym…by the time you’ve finished reading it.

The Deadlift!

What is it?

I’ve asked this question so many times…usually getting one of two answers.

  • Picking a weight up and putting it back down.
  • A strength…power…and muscle building manoeuvre

Neither wrong…but…I wouldn’t say they were quite right on a true fundamental level.

From a physiological standpoint…just exactly like the squat…the deadlift…is not a strength exercise…is not a leg exercise…is not a muscle building…nor fat burning one either.

It’s a global proprioceptive test of tensegrity and mobility…that fits the specificity of neuromuscular human functionality…which…can’t be split up….chopped or changed.

It has to start from there…from that definition…before it can become anything else.

As soon as you even start to initiate the movement…something from your toe…to your skull is changing…and it all affects and adapts each joint and meridian line of the musculoskeletal system.

If you don’t have that as your number one consideration…before all else…you fall folly in the end…every single time…I promise you that.

The deadlift is a neuromuscular movement pattern…for efficient living…that is personal…specific…and individual to a persons current biomechanical structural state.

It’s not an exercise.

It can be…totally…but…only as an adaptation of it’s genesis…which then becomes beneficial or detrimental…depending on the person performing it and their own intrinsic and extrinsic parameters set.

The real clue is in the name…lifting from dead…I suppose.

A penny…a pencil…a bag…a box…all…a dead…lift.

The reason I bring up this topic is because…this topic…has lost it’s way in society…massively.

It’s been distorted and manipulated.

Things change over time once they become popular culture…and the marketing tends to take over the essence.

Society doesn’t differentiate between the reality and the gloss.

I say this in my professional opinion as a soft tissue specialist…movement analyst…and elite performance coach…who runs a clinic fixing “Broken people”…working in numerous different capacities with a vast demographic of the general public…all the way up to the highest level of elite sports…movement…and performance.

The deadlift is promoted on the whole as an exercise serving many different social and personal benefits…which can be true…although…it falls in the majority…quite far from the mark…peddled and sold to the masses…really…from a standpoint…that promotes us to do so…by building our houses on structurally unsound foundations…in both body and mind.

Buzzwords and marketing tactics are used rather than real explanation and the problem lies in the fact we have moved away from biological and clinical movement science…ushering in far too many different manufactured avenues and deviations.

Any exercise or workout becomes a representation of whatever is marketed…and if you mention the deadlift to 9 out of 10 people these days…they will envisage an Olympic bar…and weight plates…with either big huge power lifters…sexy bootied Instagram models…muscle builders…or cross fitters etc etc stood in front of them.

Each one of those marketed demographics and groups will also have their own adaptation on the principality of the movement and their own identity/value/belief system surrounding it.

That’s all good…great…whatever…but…what you have to do…is what I’m doing in this post right here.

Break it down…back to it’s origins…provide the lineage…and break away from the manufactured representations.

Put it all…in it’s most simplistic of forms…which…is really the most complex way of looking at it?

Muscular shirtless man preparing to deadlift a barbell over hi

I said above when talking about the move being a global proprioceptive test of tensegrity and mobility that “It has to start here before it can become anything else”…which is really the key to this statement and could not be any truer.

Before man and woman…was neurological…cognitive function…adaptation.

The nervous system…was a part of us…before we were a part of ourselves.

It is…inevitably us…giving birth to the catalyst needed to create…and sustain life.

At one point we were just random cells and passageways…that by chance…or consummate natural design…had their dots connected together.

If that is the case…which the evidence in abundance shows us…then…it’s the same with the deadlift.

It starts with the brain…you have to go back to where it all began…pay homage…then evolve.

That’s why it is a neuromuscular connection.

This movement we are talking about here has so many different mental and physical parameters…that it would be naive not see the exercise as an evolution of a bigger picture.

One that serves purpose for many different reasons…one being survival.

I’ll give you a few great examples…that sum everything I just said up.

Over the years people have asked me…how do you get better at the deadlift?

I’d say that 9 out of 10 people who ever performed the movement never got better at it…ever.

I’d even say that somewhere along the line…9 out 10 people who perform it will be selling themselves their own poison in the end…whether 5 years down the road…or 50.

This isn’t an attack on anybody…this is why I run a clinic and one of many areas I get paid to comment on.

So when asked how to get better…I say…well…why do you think you aren’t progressing and what are you actually doing to progress at it?

When it comes down to the not feeling like progressing part…it’s usually always an amalgamation of…

  • Experiencing various different types of pain and contraindications from performing the move
  • Not getting stronger at it
  • Lifts going down

When it comes down to what is being done to get better…it’s usually…

  • Deadlifting more (Or adding in more global compound stimulus to aid or assist progression)
  • Stretching (Which in 99% of cases isn’t actually stuck with or done properly/effectively)

For the general person training…trying to “Get in shape”…which is who I am talking to…take this rationale and run with it.

It’s nonsensical to think you could get better at an exercise you are not progressing at…by increasing the volume of what you are doing…and/or by adding in other forms of global compound movements to assist in progression.

Makes sense from a motor control and skill aspect…yes…but…the reason for the lack of progression in the first place…is due to motor control…proprioception…and tensegrity issues…globally.

The continuation in the pursuit of getting better is taking the issues and manifesting them further through loaded adaptive stimulus.

Those issues are not only manifested further…but then taken out into everyday life…creating further dysfunction and imbalance…having an impact physiologically to your whole being.

This is to be consistently repeated through a cycle…that could cause a multitude of different issues in the end.

If you even have a solitary single half a doubt about the way you are dead lifting as an exercise…the key is…to take a step back…stop doing it…as an exercise.

Break…it…down.

I can’t say what YOU personally need to look at…and…would also like to highlight that if anybody ever claims to be able to help…YOU…specifically…from behind a computer screen…without combined visual…verbal…and palpatory assessment…in the flesh…then I would take it with a pinch of salt to be honest.

That being said…here are just a few simple bullet points for what would be logical to look at in the position of lack of progression…instead of continuously repping a dysfunctional movement pattern out.

  • Gait functionality (Ankle/foot mechanics)
  • Patella functionality (knee joint – taking into consideration it’s current relationship with gait function)
  • Hip functionality (taking into consideration it’s current relationship with gait and patella function)
  • Spine/Thorax functionality (taking into consideration their current relationship with gait/patella/hip function)
  • Scapula functionality (Shoulder blades – taking into consideration current relationship with gait function/patella/hip/spine etc)
  • Diaphragmatic breathing
  • Global proprioception & mobility
  • Stress Relief
  • Recovery
  • Natural nutrition with lots of grains and natural carbs
  • Repatterning the deadlift as a neuromuscular movement pattern for everyday functional use without weight

Doctor doing neck adjustment in medical office

Under the concepts of biotensegrity and innervation for movement…it’s all connected…and all effecting each other…from top to bottom…side to side…back and forth.

The lack of progression will be found in an amalgamation of those areas I’ve listed above.

For example…

  • You physically can’t have a dysfunction in the ankle and it not cause a byproduct in the knee…which spreads to the hip etc etc…I’ve personally never seen it yet…in myself…or others.
  • Let’s say your issue is that you are lacking external rotation of the shoulder…with heavy internal rotation…which is an extremely common problem these days…well…the conventional dead lift is heavily loading you in internal rotation and needs the strength of external rotation in counter force using the bar…which is the perfect example of a pain or dysfunction cycle which is being loaded…then transferred within day to day living. Not only is it an example of being kept in a cycle but also a perfect example of exacerbation and compensation.
  • You can’t have high amounts of stress and a lack of recovery and expect to be able to put your body through loaded demands in a prosperous environment.
  • You can’t just do a little bit or a lot of stretching and expect it to even touch the issues when executing the deadlift…the problem is not just in a lack of muscular length between joints. 

I spoke about repatterning…by paying homage to it’s purest form.

This step back is to address the issues…that need addressing…so we are then able to see progression and benefit from it as an exercise…but more importantly to see transferability from that exercise…into real functional living…with the benefit of having transferable safety and longevity.

When it then comes to transitioning from addressing the issues…and fundamentals of what the deadlift really is…to actually utilising the fixes for output in a performance setting…we have to be prepared to continue delving a little deeper.

To say it’s just picking something up and putting it down is selling the awe inspiring complexity of the human body short.

Once we’ve taken a step back…once the breathing mechanics…the gait dysfunction…the scapula winging…lack of external rotation…or whatever it is you need to focus on…has been addressed…the purest form is still most relevant in moving forwards.

Now we must factor the need for quality controlled repetitions for motor skill purposes.

So…still…what is a deadlift?

You can’t just jump straight back into loading plates on a bar.

Maybe for you…me…him…her…we…never go back into loading that bar again…I don’t know?

Take a good thick tube band with handles…stand on it…create an exertive amount of slack…and use that to deadlift? Take the time to control and really master the mechanics before going back to all in?

Get the chance to build up to being able to close your eyes while staying in constant alignment…under a safe conditions.

Build up to “Suitcase deadlifts” with weighted bags…kettlebells or dumbbells…unilaterally or bilaterally.

Do normal deadlifts with dumbbells or kettlebells…instead of the bar…allow yourself the time to be able to feel each side have to pull and individual weight?

There are so many suggestions it would take all night.

It all depends on what you need…and again…I can’t tell you that without assessment…at all.

I just want people to open their minds instead of it being a rigid representation of a bar and plates.

I’m not saying to you don’t do it in the gym or for performance…in a nutshell…I’m…simply asking 2 questions

  • What is it in the first place?

 

  • Are you currently in the right environment physiologically to be transitioning it to being a conventional loaded performance exercise?

The small things like hand placement…grip…foot stance…all make it a completely different experience…good and bad.

From My Heart To Yours

Your “split”…your “routine”…your “plan”…exercises…and methodology…should reflect and address who and where you are functionally and neuromuscularly at…OUTSIDE of working out and why.

Logically…it has to be approached in that manner…no matter your desired effect from the training…otherwise injury…long term issue…or contraindication is guaranteed to occur.

If the effort does not have your well being at the forefront of it…then the effort is in vain my friends.

Your body…is yours…and there is no one size fits all…duplicate plan…that universally works in the name of specific…individual progression or longevity.

Whatever you pursue…pursue it from a personal retrospect…take into consideration…all of the considerations…and remember that it’s not about the generic norm the masses are sold on following…it’s about discovering yourself…your own body and mind.

The best exercise…the best…stretch or circuit in the world…that everybody rants…raves and goes on about…could literally be the worst in the world for you or I…who knows without assessment?

Look after yourself!

Osteopath Treating Male Patient With Sports Injury

Guest posts are always welcome on the clinic website…I just want to share other people’s stories…as we offer many different services…and information on varied topics.

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Disturb the paradigm

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Please Click Here To Check Out Our Soft Tissue Clinic

MR CLEAVER

THE PIONEER OF MOVEMENT

Soft Tissue Specialist – Movement Analyst – Elite Performance Coach

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