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Old 12-09-2012, 10:32 PM   #1
Michael McCarthy
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Athlete loss of Lumbar extension. How to correct?

I have had a pretty serious athlete working with me for over a year now. He is an ex-wrestler and has good overall strength and decent flexibility. His deadlift is over 400 pounds. The problem is that anytime he lifts over 300 he loses is lumbar extension, his thoracic is perfect but he cannot maintain the extension in his lumbar. Is the only anwser to go lighter? Is there anything else I can do with him or do we simply need to take a step back and go lighter?
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Old 12-09-2012, 11:01 PM   #2
Eric Montgomery
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Re: Athlete loss of Lumbar extension. How to correct?

If he can't lift more than 75% of his 1RM without putting his lower back in a compromised position, he needs to drop down in weight and fix those problems. Lumbar rounding is an injury waiting to happen.

You can probably also find some mobility and assistance work to help him develop the kinesthetic awareness he seems to be lacking.
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Old 12-10-2012, 08:06 AM   #3
David Meverden
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Re: Athlete loss of Lumbar extension. How to correct?

I agree with Eric and will elaborate. In my experience lack of lumbar extension is usually due to one of the following:

1) Lack of proprioception; i.e. he doesn't know what it feels like to tense the lower back appropriately. Since he's not new and a former athlete this one is less likely but still worth checking. I've had some luck using Supermans (where they lay on their stomach and then lift their legs and arms) to reinforce this, physically touching their back where they need to tense hardest.

2) Lack of hamstring flexibility. The hamstrings are going to apply torque opposite of that applied by the lower back musculature. If they are too tight they can cause loss of lumber extension. You said he had "decent flexibility" and you don't see loss of extension on lighter weights so this may not be a major contributor, but you could still take another look. 3x30-45sec hamstring stretches per leg 2-3 times a week could take care of that pretty quickly if that is an issue.

3) Lack of back or ab strength. His lower back simply might not be strong enough to keep it extended. Weak abs can also compromise trunk stability and make rounding more likely. Heavy assistance for both of these might help if the other things don't work. I like reverse hypers (just starting doing SLOW reverse hypers and really like those) the most for back isolation but other things build strong backs: good mornings, back extensions on a GHD, romanian deadlift, etc. For Abs I like heavy stuff (8-10 reps) with occasionally throwing in higher rep and stability stuff. The fact that it only happens at higher loads makes me think it's this more than 1 & 2, but of course I can't be too confident over the internet.
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