A few months ago, a local acupuncturist referred his client (a 16 year-old runner) to me for an evaluation. Tommy is a highly competitive runner who was suffering from debilitating unexplained bilateral knee pain. During the past year, Tommy had seen orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors and podiatrists, each skilled in his/her profession but unable to fully treat the cause of Tommy’s pain.
A thorough stride & gait analysis and a full biomechanical assessment revealed that Tommy had a few structural issues occurring. I created a unique training program for him that focused on strengthening Tommy’s core, low back and hamstrings & ankle stability. I also recommended a pedorthist who specializes in custom footbeds for athletes, as well as a Structural Integrative Therapist who specializes in myofascial release.
One of Tommy’s primary exercises was the deadlift and its many variations. This complex exercise is key for developing gluteal and hamstring strength while helping to stabilize the knee.
As of this blog, Tommy is now running 50 miles/week and is working on his speed and form. He works with me twice/week and continues to do his home exercises as well.
One of the most important and in my opinion more beautiful exercises in weight lifting. When executed properly, it strengthens the muscles of the low back, the hamstrings and the gluteals. These three muscle groups are an integral part of the posterior chain. Strengthening these muscle groups is essential for reducing your risk of low back/hip/knee injury.
The deadlift is simply the synchronicity of bending down and standing up with a weighted object. We all perform some sort of a deadlift on a daily basis…. whether it’s picking an object up off the floor, lifting a bag of groceries or moving a piece of furniture.
The deadlift has many variations, from the traditional Olympic style to the stiff-legged or Romanian Deadlift to the one-legged staggered stance. You can also choose to use a straight bar, a yoke bar, kettle bells or dumbbells, set the weight up on blocks or stand on a block to do a deficit deadlift.
No matter which style of deadlift you do – knowing how to initiate and engage your back musculature, gluteals and hamstrings appropriately will be the difference between sustaining an injury or staying healthy & pain-free.
For those of you who may want some more insight on tips for an efficient deadlift, check out this article by The National Strength and Conditioning Association.