July 01, 2006
There is no more functional movement than picking up something heavy, as we do in the deadlift, writes Mark Rippetoe of The Witchita Falls Athletic Club/CrossFit Witchita Falls in part 5 of his series on the slow lifts.
The deadlift is one of the things our bodies are built to do. By practicing, we gain proficiency at movements we are frequently called on to perform in nature.
The lower back needs to be extended, or arched, during the entire pull so the bones of the spine stay in the right position to bear a load safely. The thoracic spine needs to be in a correct position too, best accomplished by keeping the chest up during the pull. The position is the same one that you assume when standing erect normally and correctly, referred to as “normal anatomical position.”
The low back arch is not natural for some people, and it must be worked on and coached diligently if it is not right. The upper back, “chest-up” position can cause problems with our other main consideration, the bar path, if it is not understood clearly.
The chest-up position has nothing to do with the back angle. The chest can be lifted by the thoracic contraction in any position, standing straight up or bent over at the waist. So can the lower back extension, the movement that tightens the muscles that protect the lumbar spine. This skill needs to be developed so that a tight back position can be assumed whenever it is necessary, in any position, whether deadlifting or picking up the groceries.