The deadlift is another one of a major full body exercise, that is beneficial in so many ways, but like the squat the deadlift is most often more abused and performed incorrectly and many will suffer from lower back issues performing the lift. But today we will be breaking down the mobility of the deadlift and where people run into issues with the movement. Looking at the mobility of the deadlift can be tough, unlike the squat which is lower the hips vertically the deadlift has horizontal displacement of the hip, the hips go back and away from the center of mass. It is a shorter range of motion than the squat, though we find some people have a tougher time learning and mastering the movement pattern, for most it can be an unnatural movement to shift the hips back and have the chest and head over the knees and toes and control a weight off the floor.
When the hips shift back many will feel the center of mass go back and feel as if they are going to fall backwards, this is the inability to keep control of the center of mass as the hips move away the body wants to keep going in that direction. If this is the case they are shifting the weight of the body more posteriorly and not controlling the thorax and trunk. With tightness of the hips can also have an effect on the deadlift mobility and getting into the proper position To compensate for this we see hips going back slightly and the person rounding through the back to get to the weight on the floor, to them this is moving the hips horizontally and posteriorly, this will cause the force to go through the lower spine because of poor position of the hips. We need to get more of a sense of the hips moving back as the thorax and head stays over the thighs, then we can create a sense of stability and be comfortable moving a load off the floor.
A place to start is seeing what the person’s hip mobility by testing with the active straight leg raise that will give you and idea of how the hamstring interacts with the hip and what position the hip might be in. If the person has tight hamstrings it will affect how the hip moves (hamstring attaches to the ischium) and can limit the hips reaching backwards. Using the 90-90 hip lift technique will help facilitate the hamstrings with abdominal co- contraction, this will turn off the overactive extension chain muscles and allow for increased ROM on the active straight leg raise, and help to get into a better position on the deadlift. For the trunk and rib cage the person needs to be able to sense exhalation and dropping the ribs down towards the hips and maintain that position as the hips move posteriorly. The goal is to keep the rib cage and the hips moving as one unit to create proper air flow dynamics and muscle activation.