Assessment Using Single Leg Deadlift Pattern

For many of the coaches out there, we see many comepensations during various movements that we prescribe athletes and one of our jobs is to correct these as best as possible.  To correct comepensations may mean prescribing “homework” for the athlete to do at home, simple cueing, or creating a program around the issue that will help the issue go away (make the program based off assessment).  It could also mean simply practicing the movement correctly (sets and reps can be viewed as practice).  Remember, bad habits or patterns occur over time and sometimes it takes practice to get the patterns right, similar to improving one’s skill on the field or court.  One of the coaching lessons I am slowly trying to engrain is to see how athletes move with everything, whether it be the warm-up, the actual training program,  or what postures they tend to fall in when they rest.  Of the possible compensations, one that stands out (also a good assessment) is the overuse or excessive contribution of the lumbar erectors during hip dominant or single leg lifts. 

Overuse of the lumbar erectors (low back) is one way to get a cranky back.  We know that the sequencing of power production in athletes is generated from the hips first–>trasmitted through a stable core–>and if required, finished through the upper torso or shoulders (overhead athletes: baseball, lacrosse).  Soccer players: need powerful, stable hips.  The below videos demonstrate what I mean from excessive use of the lumbar erectors while trying to move through the hips.



The first video really isn’t that bad, but hopefully it gets the point across of something you may have seen.  The second video keeps the spine more neutral and I can hinge back into my hips a bit better.  Static posture (anterior pelvic tilt) is also a good indicator if someone overuses their lumbar erectors.  Being stuck into this posit will put constant tension (contraction) on the lumbar spine and weaken the glutes.  Sometimes, we can even notice that during single leg lifts or hip dominant athletes may tend to pull with the upper back to finish the movement instead of with their hips.  Noticing the bodyweight inverted reach pattern (videos above) can be a great assessment tool so that as coaches we know how to program accordingly and help prevent feeding into the problem.


Categories: Injury Prevention, Strength Training

Tags: , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. I have definitely seen this pattern with some of my clients over the years. How would you recommend transitioning those with overactive erectors to a more hip dominant extension pattern?

    • Carolyn,
      I think starting clients out with low level glute bride variations is one way but with everything it is taking a holistic approach. We have it as part of our warm-up and most of the time it is a cueing thing or starting with a simple pvc pipe to teach the hinge (on two legs). Every one is different so it could be

      -learning to hinge first
      -if they have a restriction or mobility/stability problem aka active straight leg raise), then we need to correct that
      -and practice it everyday cueing to sit back into the hips or tell them to keep the knees more bent as that seems to be an issue. I also like telling people to let their chest relax down without collapsing.
      -If worse comes to worse..set up away from the wall and use that as a cue to reach back!

      Hope this helps,

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