In the early stages many people struggle with the deadlift. This struggle is down to many factors: hamstring inflexibility, balance, proprioception (or lack of it) or simply, pure “what the hell is this”.
Mastering the move is made harder by the fact that many people think they can only practice the move in the gym. If you struggle, more practice is useful, hence the imaginary bar drill.
Focus on holding an imaginary bar, anywhere: at home, at work, in the pub.
If you struggle to maintain a neutral spine when deadlifting or squatting, or sitting for that matter, a “bit of gaffer tape” either side of your lumbar spine can give some very useful feedback. Set your neutral back, and get someone to stick tape either side of your spine ( the boney bit in the middle): when you stoop it pulls, and reminds you to maintain a better back position ( but don’t tape into a hyper- lordotic position!!) Obvious point, but make sure you are not allergic to the tape you are going to use! This can really help you save your back and cut down your pack pain. Essentially it tells the body where your back is. Often back pain sufferer’s have no idea what their back is doing.
Much of the development of human movement comes from coaches comparing techinques. Better coaches hang out with other coaches, go on their courses, read their blogs, learn, analyse, video, and humbly put stuff up for criticism. Many sport science papers purport to do the same thing. However, the only value of a report of an experiment is, if you can reproduce the experiment yourself.
Do you remember those basic physics and chemistry experiments we did at school? We followed the exact doses, mixed , shook, heated and retreated to a safe distance. The instructions told us, how much, in what container , in what proportion. to what temperature.
This often isn’t the case in sport science journals. Sport scientists casually say they are testing the efficacy of , say, the deadlift and squat but often fail to explain what they mean. This frequently means back specialists often prescribe or ban movements where there is no correct understanding about what the movement is and how to perform it. I often see clients who have been banned from performing movements they do well and perfectly, and being set drills and movements, which, clearly, the instructor had not the faintest idea of the correct form or the correct mechanics .
The picture here is from a leading book on back issues and is supposed to be the correct form of the deadlift. It is, unfortunately not brilliant, (probably for all the best reasons), but, if you deadlifted in this way, you would , eventually, overload your back ( as always, poor form needs to be mixed with repetition and escalating load weight to be truly nasty).
This is not an attack on sport scientists ( I do that elsewhere). After all, all research is useful , it is a plea to look for the instructions or method in the report you are reading. Can you reproduce what they did? If not, treat the information with caution.
We will post later the correct way to deadlift.