Recent E-mails

On Thoracic Flexion and Back Lifting…

Most strength coaches attempt to lift with the back locked in neutral (neutral lordosis).  The rule of thumb is to preserve the curve in the low back with lifting.  They are afraid to have their athletes lift with flexed backs. They point out the research done by Stuart McGill to justify their lifting techniques. This research shows that lumbar flexion adds compression and shearing forces on the spine especially at L4 and L5. He also recommends not doing a posterior pelvic tilt because it loads the passive tissues of the spine. I know this goes against PRI guidelines. I am just wondering what you think of Mcgill’s research?

Thank you for the information on Stuart McGill.  PRI activity incorporates proper breathing with co-activation of the abs and back extensors, lifting with proper assistance from glutes and hamstrings and reaching without over extending the thorax.  We also want to keep the lumbar spine as neutral as possible.  The problem lies with those losing lumbar lordosis early on or in the middle of their lifting sequence and therefore relying on L5-S1 ligament, sacral iliac posterior ligament, and pelvic floor ligament attached to the lower sacrum for stability and support during a process where lumbar compression is now significantly higher than when you flex the thoracic lumbar spine.  I don’t believe many understand the importance of the lift is to keep the lumbar spine NEUTRAL as the thoracic spine extends when moving upright. PRI does not promote posterior rotation of the innominates during the lift. We promote co-activation of the hamstrings and the hip flexors/diaphragm to offset the torque on the spine. Those who overextend the lumbar spine early in the lift and during thoracic extension at mid ranges of the lift are over-compressing and sheering their thoracic and lumbar intervertebral joints.