What’s up ? This is THE stephane ANDRE. With my training, I’m interested in biomechanics to avoid injuries. I read « Sport Medicine Media Guide » and I learned some good stuff.
A sprain is a stretch injury of the ligament that supports the ankle. This sprain often happens to the ligament outside the ankle when the foot is twisted inward (inverted). It’s a « lateral » ankle sprain that localized to the ligaments in the outer/lower part of the ankle.
A « high » ankle sprain (or syndesmosis injury) is a ligament stretch injury that holds the tibia and fibula together in the lower leg. This type of sprain happens when the ankle is twisted outward, it’s an eversion injury.
When there is a sprain, the ankle is tender and swollen on the outside, above and at the front of the ankle bone, but the pain doesn’t come from the ankle bone. A sprain can create moderate or severe pain that can prevent the foot from supporting the body weight.
Treatment of sprained ankle
The basic treatment is what we call RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation). During a severe sprain, it’s advisable to use a walking boot to help support the ankle.
Recovery time for a « lateral » sprain is usually 1-3 weeks and for a « high » sprain is usually 3-6 weeks.
Rehabilitation can begin a few days after the sprain when swelling decreases. The rheabilitation has 3 goals :
Restore movement and flexibility
How to avoid a ankle sprain
It’s possible to use a brace to help prevent sprains. There are several types of neoprene or elastic materials. Here are some models on Amazon, click here .
Ankle sprains are more common in all sport that involve cutting and pivoting
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What’s up ? This is THE stephane ANDRE ! I read a Frederic Delavier’s book « Strength Training Anatomy » and I learned good stuff.
Lying on your stomach on your hands with your arms extended :
Straighten up your chest slowly by tilting your head back slightly
Maintain this position for few seconds while breathing slowly to feel the stretching of your abs.
It’s possible to make this movement with your hands on a bench and your feet on the floor, or you’re lying on your back on a big ball (Swissball).
Stretching of abs can be an important element in some sports like throwing sports, especially the javelin. In this type of sports, it’s essential to have good flexibility and a good abdominal amplitude to make the movement perfectly.
Abs stretching are to be avoided in case of lumbar pathology.
The position tilted forward (anteversion) of women’s pelvis allows a portion of the child’s weight to be transferred to the abs. By analogy, abs muscles can be compared to a « hammock ».
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First we can say : « disc herniation » or « herniated disc » but I prefer use « disc herniation » in my article.
Disc herniation is a common pathology in bodybuilding. This often occurs because of poor back placement during exercises such as squat, deadlift and rows (barbell bent row, seated row, etc).
During the execution of theses exercises, the main defect observed is the rounding of the back or a flexion of the spine. Because of that discs are pinched forward and loosened backward.
If an intervertebral disc cracked or aged, the gelatinous fluid of the nucleus pulposus moves backwards and can compress the spinal cord or roots of the spinal nerves. The symptoms of a disc herniation depends on the nature of the lesion, the amount of nucleus displaced and the surface that nucleus compresses.
The disc may have a bump or even worse, the nucleus may explode through the surrounding annulus fibrosus. It’s also possible that the posterior ligament that joins the vertebrae to each other is broken. The compressions caused by the rupture of the annulus fibrosus are always painful and incapacitating.
In bodybuilding, disc herniation are mainly at the lumbar level. Often between the 3rd and 4th lumbar vertebrae or between the 4th and 5th lumbar vertebrae. The pain is dull and deep and sometimes with numbness and tingling. Often the pain is in the middle of the back or on one side. The pain extends onto the glutes, pelvis and pubis. Sometimes pain can be felt throughout the leg following the path of the sciatic nerve because the sciatic nerve is compressed at the root (hence the name of sciatic to define this type of pain).
Usually disc herniation resolve spontaneously and the pain gradually disappears. But in some cases the bump on a vertebral disc doesn’t disappear and can continue to painfully pres on the nerves or it’s a loose piece of intervertebral cartilage that compresses the nervous elements.
In these 2 cases, the doctor will think of doing a surgical operation to remove the part that compresses the nerves.
To avoid having a disc herniation, it’s essential to do squat, deadlift, « good morning » and rows (rows, barbell bent row, seated row) with excellent positioning technique.
For all exercises done with very heavy weight, it’s necessary to perform a « blocking » :
Take a deep breath and block the breathing to fill the lungs like a balloon. This stiffens the ribcage and prevents the top of the torso form tilting forward.
Squeeze abs stiffens the belly, This increases the intra-abdominal pressure and prevents the torso from sagging forward.
By slightly arching the lower back with lumbar squeeze, this allows to have the spine’s bottom in extension.
These 3 simultaneous actions is what we call « blocking ». This « blocking » has the function of avoiding the rounding or bending of the spine because with very heavy weights, it can create disc herniations .
After a training session with very heavy weights, it’s advisable to do stretching for the spine. There is an excellent exercise to relax the back muscles and rebalance the pressure inside the intervertebral discs. Click here .
For exercises such as deadlift or squat, it’s important not to round your back to avoid lower back injuries.
Flexion of the spine with heavy weights can create disc herniations at the level of the lumbar vertebrae.
These disc herniations are common at squat and deadlift. This is caused by a bad back position during exercise. That’s why it’s important to work the technique for these exercises.
Disc herniation according to the age
From the age of 30 years old, intervertebral discs degenerate and don’t worry, it’s normal, The annulus can crack and the nucleus pulposus dries progressively.
Vertebral discs of people over 30 years old are more rigid, less elastic and the mobility of the spine is more limited. But as the viscous gel of the nucleus pulposus deacreases due to drying, the risk of the vertebral discs moving and compressing the nerves diminished.
Vertebral discs of people under 30 years old are more flexible, more elastic and there is more mobility with the spine. There is a greater amount of viscous gel in the nucleus pulposus which increases the risk that vertebral discs will move and compress the nerves. Disc herniation is very common among young athletes.
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In bodybuilding, it’s really important to take into account individual morphological differences. Especially for squat and deadlift.
Squat and deadlift have a different muscular work for a brevilineal person and a rangy person
A brevilineal person has a proportionally long torso and short limbs. An rangy person has a proportionally short torso and long limbs. This has nothing to do with height, muscle development or adiposity. Which means that a person can be a small fat rangy or a tall skinny brevilineal.
A brevilineal person have facility for squat because their short femurs makes that the torso is little inclined. This limits lower back and hamstring tension. As a result, the movement can be done in relative safety and the brevilineal person can almost exclusively focus on quadriceps work. It’s for this reason that almost all squat champions are brevilineal. An impressive example is that usually dwarves monopolize podiums of small categories in powerlifting.
Rangy people have more difficulty to do squat because their long femurs makes that the torso is very inclined forward. This puts hamstrings, adductors and gracilis in a dangerous position. Rangy people must fight constantly to not be out of balance forward.
It’s also important to pay attention to the back’s position to avoid rounding the back. Having the round back causes serious spinal injuries like the famous herniated disc.
Rangy people doing this type of squat leaning forward works much muscles of gluteus maximus which have the function of straightening the pelvis, torso and all erectors spinae muscles that try their best to avoid the rounding of the back.
As a result, the squat for long limbs is excellent for developing powerful glutes and lumbar spine. On the other hand it requires a lot of concentration for the positioning of the body during the movement. It should be noted that more weights are heavy, the more dangerous the movement’s execution.
For rangy people who really want to work quadriceps, it’s advisable to use incline machine like « hack squat ».
Difficulties change side
For brevilineal people who are the kings of squat, there is a reverse medal. They have a lot of trouble to do deadlift.
Brevilineal people with short legs should bend their legs to take the barbell. Sometimes their femurs are almost horizontal and this position requires a lot of energy to start the movement.
On the other hand, rangy people can take the barbell with their legs half bent. With this position, quadriceps can us the maximum energy to start the movement. The morphology of the rangy people allows them to lift heavier weights than brevilineal people despite a tilt of the gluteus and erectors spinae muscles
It’s for this reason that almost all of the deadlift champions are rangy people.
The ankles flexibility has a great influence on the squat’s execution.
Ankles flexibility may be influenced by musculotendinous limitation (such as significant calves retractions) or bone limitation. For example, if the dorsal flexion (the fact of raising forefoot) is limited, the squat technique is completely modified.
The lack of ankles flexibility limits the shifting of the shins forward and the advanced knees. This makes it necessary to squat with the buttocks very back and the back leaning forward, which has the effect of working intensely the gluteus maximus and the spine erectors muscles.
Squat with an excessive inclinaison of the torso put dangerously tension on the back muscles of the thighs, adductors magnus, gracilis and increase the risk of muscle tearing.
It should be added that the positioning of the femurs below the horizontal has the effect of rounding the back, which increases the risk of vertebral damage. This squat requires a lot of concentration for the positioning of the body during the movement because the more the weigh is heavy and more the movement’s execution is dangerous.
Be careful, whether for the squat or the deadlift, having stiff ankles make it difficult to flex our legs even if the femurs are horizontal.
Finally, the cantilevered that is more important for deadlift than squat, this is requires quadriceps to provide more strength to extend thighs on the legs.
As you know, there are several versions of deadlift that can match your training goals or your body type but the conventional deadlift is great for starting to learn the basics.
Attention : It’s important to do 1-2 sets warm-up with the barbell without weights. As with squat, this warm-up allows you to prepare joints and muscles.
Adds weights and uses collars for safety
If you’re a beginner, only use 2-26-4.6kg (5-10lbs) plates to make easy to adjust the weights on the barbell. When you have better understood the movement and how your body reacts you can use plates of 20kg (45lbs).
Stand with your feet at the width of your hips
The spacing of your feet is about 20-30cm (8-12 inches) and your toes are slightly outside about 5-10 degrees.
Look at the ground
Place your feet under the barbell so that the barbell almost touches your ankles. The barbell must be on the node of your laces
Without moving the barbell or your hips
Lean forward to take the barbell. Your legs are slightly bent. Your hands should be slightly outside your legs without touching them.
Hold the barbell
Move your hips down so your shins touch the barbell. Stop moving your hips when your shins touch the barbell. Squeeze your torso and keep your back straight to have your back in a neutral position.
Your back in a neutral position
Your back shouldn’t be rounded or hyper extends. If you feel like you don’t have your back in a neutral position, don’t hesitate to ask a friend or a gym’s member to make a video of you with a smartphone while you’re doing deadlift. This will allow you to correct your technique.
In addition to your spine, uses the upper back’s muscles to help to lift your chest up (swagger).
Your shoulders should be slightly in front of the barbell and your arms should be straight and perpendicular to the ground.
As each person has unique body, the person next to you will have a different starting position than you and this is normal. Think about it : if a person has long arms, will this person have exactly the same position as a person with short arms ? No.
Ready to lift
Be focus and squeeze all your body’s muscles
Take a deep breath and keep your chest up with all your body squeezed ant put all the weight on your heels and on the ball of your feet.
Imagine driving your feet through the ground.
Here are the important points in this part of the movement :
All the weight must be on your heels and on the ball of your feet. During the movement, you should be able to move your toes.
Your whole body moves slowly at the same speed. Your butt shouldn’t get up faster than your torso.
Be focused on directing your torso and putting the weight on your heels.
Your arms should stay straight during the movement. Your arms only serve to hold the barbell, not pull it.
The barbell stay in contact with all your body. The barbell is a few millimeters from your legs while your lift it. Powerlifters put socks on their shins and chalk or baby powder on their thighs to avoid cuts and scratches The barbell’s trajectory during the movement is a vertical straight line.
Squeeze your glutes. When the barbell goes over your knees, squeeze your glutes to move your hips forward.
When you stand, open your chest as if you’re proud (like a king/queen). Keep your spine in a neutral position (straight back) and all your body tight.
To lower the barbell
As with lifting the barbell, all your body needs to move at the same time.
Your body is always contracted, unlocks your hips and knees and lower the barbell by controlling the movement slowly.
If you unlocks your knees first, you’ll do weird movements that will force you to round your lower back.
Keep your body contracted until the barbell touches the ground. The majority of deadlift injuries appear during the descends of the barbell. People are so pleased to have lifted a heavy weight that they relax their bodies and lower the barbell with poor technique. It’s important to control movement with your contracted body throughout exercise.
In deadlift the most risky moment is the eccentric part (descending the barbell). This is the part that will give you the most DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).
That’s why several personal trainers advise their athletes to throw the barbell on the ground, especially for athletes who must be at 100 % for a competition in a few days.
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When I look in the mirror, I see that my right biceps is bigger than my left biceps. And I also see that my left calf is bigger than my right calf. I think you too, you have weak points and an asymmetrical body like me.
I tried several technique to clear the weak point of my left biceps by doing more reps or lifting heavier with my left arm. But it didn’t work as I thought and I realized that there were even more factors that caused my asymmetrical body.
You have to know that there are real weak points and false weak points. And yes, there are 2 type of weak points.
These are the sports that you have done regularly before you train seriously at the gym. For exemple, I played soccer for 2-3 years so I developed a lot of my legs and calves. I have been doing karate, kung-fu and taekwondo for years (I have more than 15 years of martial art) so I developed a lot my back, my arms, chest and my abs. My past sports allows me to develop all these muscles (calves, legs, back, arms, chest and abs) even more easily.
Now I’m going to tell you about the difference between a real weak points and a false weak points. In my case, I have nice abs, nice, chest. My arms are correct (I have one arm bigger that the other) and my legs are correct (I have one leg bigger than the other).
For example, a soccer player or a cyclist will use his/her legs and calves more often. A boxer will use his/her arms, back and abs more often. This shows that the past sports is important in muscle development because people developed more rapidly the upper body’s muscles rather the lower body muscles or the reverse.
So don’t worry because absolutely everyone has an asymmetric body (if you know a person who has a 100 % symmetrical body, attention, it’s a robot).
It’s the moment to go to the higher level. Now, you understood that there are people who can easily develop the upper body’s muscles rather that the lower body’s muscles or the reverse. In both case, there is the same problem : an asymmetry.
We’re human beings, we are not perfect and that is normal. Professional bodybuilders also have an asymmetric body like you. It’s for everyone like that. When we look at the mirror, we have a more developed part than the other.
Here are the causes.
Because of your bones, there is one side of you body that can lift easily heavier weights that the other. So the side muscles that can lift easily heavier develop faster.
A) clavicle length
We all have a longer clavicle than the other. Take you time, check the length of your clavicles, you will be surprised. When the clavicle is longer, this affects the leverage when you lift weights. This means that it boost your strength and your muscular growth.
But, there is a solution to avoid that there is a big difference between the 2 sides. It’s learning to isolate and feel your muscle. I use a technique called « magic touch ». Before doing a set, I touch with my fingers the muscle that I have to work. This allows me to be focus and stay focus on muscle sensations. This is to create the connection between my brain and my muscle.
This is why it’s important to take light weights to learn how to perform a movement to learn the muscles sensations. For example, bench press. There are people who use too much shoulders when the arms are straight. Bench press is an exercice to work mainly chest and not shoulders. So pay attention to your muscles sensation when you to an exercise and adjust.
B) Short and long muscles
This is really a genetic case. There are people with short muscles or long muscle. Take as an example a short biceps and a long biceps.
A short biceps responds slowly to training because the muscles is less close to insertion with the joint.
A long biceps respond quickly to the training because the muscle is closer to insertion with the joint.
As you can see, there are some similarities with the clavicle’s length. When the muscle is long, it’s easier to develop the muscle.
This is something you can’t change and doing an operation to lengthen your muscle is useless. It’s your genetics that decides whether your muscles are short or long.
Wait, it’s not over yet, there’s still plenty of other things in the genetics that influence muscle development. In your training, you can use several techniques to stimulate your muscle fibers like « High Intensity Training » . Dorian Yates (6x Mr. Olympia), used this technique during his career as a professional bodybuilder. This technique stimulates muscle fibers even more that hypertrophy .
There is also nerve genetics. It’s the ability to isolate and feel the muscle you’re working on. It’s an ability that improves only with experience and time.
Here is the end of the Part 1. The Part 2 comes soon.
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