Tuesday, May 24, 2011

You can get with this...or you can get with that!

A nationally renowned spine specialist criticized one of my blog posts because I had an athlete doing the exercise in this post: http://joestrainingroom.blogspot.com/2010/05/hips-in-hips-out.html

Described me as, " a strict follower of Gary Gray who goes overboard especially when he gets his hands on a med ball &s; working the spine in full flexion under load."

First of all, while it is true I have been heavily influenced by G2 & Dave Tiberio, I'm also influenced by Vern Gambetta, Warren Hammer and others. But I would hate to think anyone thinks of me a wannabe clone.  I'm not even sure what qualifies that as "A Gary Gray exercise".  And are we not supposed to do capoeira (pictured)  because the spine is in full flexion under load?  Or is that OK because they are upside down, or not holding a medicine ball?  I understand the theory about soft tissue creep, the stress on the intervertebral disks etc.  But Stuart McGill himself, in his book (Low Back Disorders p.105) described a vertebral subluxation (documented under fluoroscope) occurring while a guy was doing a deadlift- with his spine in good posture; not even close to end range!

Fortunately for me, another one of my influences is the great orthopedist Dr. Stephen Levin (on the right of this page is a link to his website).  Here is his take on this topic:

"Never believe a ''spine specialist', particularly if they are surgeons. If this 'specialist' is a surgeon, he does more harm in one day than you will have done in your lifetime. It is nonsense to consider the spine as 'weak' or 'strong' based on posture. A person instantly knows when their posture is appropriate for a task at the moment they begin to institute the task. Think of lifting a box of an unknown weight. Weightlifters start a 'clean and jerk' from a crouch because it is the strongest position.  As soon as there is an attempt to lift, the body recognizes the load, and the posture adjusts. Weightlifters start a 'clean and jerk' from a crouch because it is the strongest position. Nowadays, I rarely think of any muscle, or muscle group performing a particular task. I think in closed chain activities, with all muscle involved, all the time. It is impossible to contract only one muscle, you must always involve all muscles".

You can get with that- but Se baila así, se goza más.


Brian Green said...

I believe that Stuart McGill has observed that vertebral end plate fractures and disk herniations occur over THOUSANDS of repetitions. Having an athlete perform your exercise for 15-20 reps is in my opinion not a big deal. I would also suspect that said specialist follows your blog not for what shouldn't be done but rather what is a creative and functional approach to athletic injury and injury prevention. Furthermore, the weight lifter that was injured in McGill's study was lifting significant load. An athlete with no history of disk pathology or facet dysfunction makes the use of a med ball a non issue. Back to the States tomorrow for a few weeks before world cup preseason. A needed break...

Joe Przytula said...

Thanks Brian to you guys on the other side of the pond like the crew @ U.Dublin & Doc Lederman who help keep my sanity.

ps- Please give a few links I can post so we can follow the action.

The Iron Maven said...

P, I agree with Brian! This is a non-issue. Would hardly consider that being under a significant load; and the purpose is the neural glide, right?

And just to be clear, it was a powerlifter in the McGill book. Powerlifters deadlift with flexion (slow movement) and many can get away with it for a while, but many do not. Over many, many reps. Real competitive weightlifters cannot get away with such mechanics for long with the speed/forces generated at liftoff. We want a totally different movement pattern in the snatch/clean than in the DL. Totally different mobility in the LE's of weightlifters v powerlifters.

This is why I think we have much to learn from how weightlifters move heavy objects from the ground. They solve the problem of lifting from the ground in a way that is much more conducive to long-term back health; and they develop/maintain the LE mobility many normal folks lose as they reach their teens.

And yes, it is the tissue being deformed and weakened over thousands of reps. Super heavy loads don't usually help the situation.

Would love to discuss things with said expert. Does he or she move or lift objects at all?


Joe Przytula said...

Tracy- I'm sorry I haven't read all of Coach Newton's "explosive training for sports" book. I can't get past the sexy blonde model he hired to spot the lifters. But if I did, I would find out even weightlifting isn't "one size fits all". Different techniques are used to accomodate diffrent torso/leg/arm ratios. Am I right?

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