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Thread: Great video visualizing why we shouldn't flex our back under load

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Great video visualizing why we shouldn't flex our back under load

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    This is a incredible (two minute) visualization supporting why we squat and deadlift the way we do:
    Open Fissure | Dynamic Disc Bulge | Stuart McGill Explains the Mechanism - YouTube

    Hope you all find useful as well!

  2. #2
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    Alright, so this needs to be quashed right now. This kind of thinking is a god damned epidemic in fitness.

    The spine is a beam designed to resist moment force applied at the shoulders, towards the front of the body. This means it experiences both compression (along the inside of the spine) and tension (along the ridge of the back). Is it possible to place a sufficient moment force on the spine that it fails? Yes, obviously, as with all things. That is what is being demonstrated here.

    The beam of the spine resists compression via the disks, and tension via the musculature of the back. If there was no back musculature (or, as is often found, the back musculature is not being called into contraction), then yes, the spine would flex uncontrollably, the only thing resisting the flexion would be the disks, which would fail if the load was sufficiently heavy.

    However, in a normal situation, where the back musculature is being engaged, even if the spine is pulled out of full extension, the spine is merely in one of many configurations which it is capable of resisting. Will the force on the disks be greater than if it was in total extension? Yes. Is it anything to worry about? No.

    Indeed, we often find that a person is failing to engage the back musculature and "resting" on the interior arc of the vertebral discs to keep the spine from flexing uncontrollably. This is undesirable. But it's easily corrected in pretty much everyone. This is not a reason why if the back goes into flexion at all, with fully engaged back musculature, your disks will explode. If you have compromised disks, will you have to exercise greater caution? Yes. But you are not going to compromise your disks doing deadlifts.

    And moreover, strength training at a reasonable volume hardly constitutes "repetitive flexion": you execute 45, *maybe* 50 reps of the squat, and between 5 and 15 reps of the deadlift. You probably "load your back under flexion" more times getting dressed in the morning than you do lifting weights all *week.*

    The actual reason we don't flex out backs under load is that it makes the lift less efficient. Why this is is discussed in detail in the Blue Book. A deadlift with the back in excessive flexion will fail to break the floor before it becomes flexed to such a degree that it places the vertebral discs under an unsafe stress.

    This reply is an attempt to stem the tide of people "deloading their deadlift" to "work on form" because they notice that 265 caused their vertebrae to deflect half a centimeter when the bar left the floor.

  3. #3
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    Nice job, Maybach.

  4. #4
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    Wow, such a welcoming atmosphere here on the forum.

    Maybach, can you please explain the mechanism by which my back is regularly tweaked when squatting around 350-400lbs? Not deadlifting 265. Clearly, I'm not using this as an excuse to deload or "do volume", rather trying to understand what is actually happening and how to avoid it as much as possible since it is hindering my training progress. To be clear, I'm squatting under the guidance of an SSC that regularly reviews my form and programming.

    Also please don't brush it off as "regular back tweaks" - there must be an underlying causal mechanism to this and I need specifics. Asking since you obviously have a better handle on it than I do.

  5. #5
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    Maybach, thank you for saving me the pain of watching another one of doctor Stuart Mcgill's videos demonstrating the early stage impact of dementia on critical thinking ability.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by tom33 View Post
    Maybach, can you please explain the mechanism by which my back is regularly tweaked when squatting around 350-400lbs? Not deadlifting 265. Clearly, I'm not using this as an excuse to deload or "do volume", rather trying to understand what is actually happening and how to avoid it as much as possible since it is hindering my training progress. To be clear, I'm squatting under the guidance of an SSC that regularly reviews my form and programming.
    Video?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by tom33 View Post
    Wow, such a welcoming atmosphere here on the forum.

    Maybach, can you please explain the mechanism by which my back is regularly tweaked when squatting around 350-400lbs? Not deadlifting 265. Clearly, I'm not using this as an excuse to deload or "do volume", rather trying to understand what is actually happening and how to avoid it as much as possible since it is hindering my training progress. To be clear, I'm squatting under the guidance of an SSC that regularly reviews my form and programming.

    Also please don't brush it off as "regular back tweaks" - there must be an underlying causal mechanism to this and I need specifics. Asking since you obviously have a better handle on it than I do.
    Well, since you don't have any more information than that you "regularly tweak your back", I would say "regular back tweaks" is about the only diagnosis which makes sense. But if I had to guess as to an underlying mechanism I would guess it's the mechanism that causes *most* back tweaks: some minor insult to or inflammation of the tendons or musculature of the back. I'm fairly certain it has nothing to do with a *herniated disk* because those very much do not feel like "back tweaks."

  8. #8
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    Shouldn't your deadlift be at 450lbs if you're squatting 400? Maybe that's part of the problem.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    Video?
    “The actual reason we don't flex out backs under load is that it makes the lift less efficient.”

    I’ve heard that bad form is more a problem for inefficiency rather than injury risk, would you guys say this is somewhat true?

    I’m lifting in my garage by myself. I’m reading the book and articles over and over and watching the videos, but I’m unfortunately a slow learner, and embarrassingly I am also “physically stupid” as Rip has said in one of his articles

    A big problem for me is having the knowledge, or maybe confidence, of knowing when the form is “good enough” to progress and add 5 pounds.

    Is it possible to say how common injuries are from poor form, and are there any videos or articles that go into how poor the form must be for you to not add weight the next session?

    Sorry for the dumb question and thanks for any help

  10. #10
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    starting strength coach development program
    Sure thing, thanks Rip.

    Yesterday’s 335x2x3 (coming back from back tweak): Proton Drive

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