Spinal Disc Herniation

disc herniation

I read a Frederic Delavier’s book « Strength Training Anatomy » and I learned good stuff.

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.

disc herniation

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).

disc herniation sciatic nerve

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.

Attention

For all exercises done with very heavy weight, it’s necessary to perform a « blocking » :

  1. 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.

  2. Squeeze abs stiffens the belly, This increases the intra-abdominal pressure and prevents the torso from sagging forward.

  3. 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 .

Note

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 .

Bad position

disc herniation bad positon squat deadlift

For exercises such as deadlift or squat, it’s important not to round your back to avoid lower back injuries.

Disc herniation

disc herniation

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

disc herniation intervertebral

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.

Share this article if you think it can help someone you know. Thank you

-Steph

Adapt Your Training To Your Morphology (Part 2)

anatomy body squat morphology knee big belly

I read a Frederic Delavier’s book « Strength Training Anatomy » and I learned good stuff.

If you didn’t read Part 1, click here.

Legs

Improve your squat position

anatomy body squat morphology knee big belly

To reduce the lower back’s effort and limit the hamstrings tension, it’s possible to do like powerlifters by putting the barbell on posterior deltoids.

This technique decreases the cantilever and increases the power of lifting from the back. This allows you to lift heavier weights.

By using powerlifter of weightlifting shoes (solid raised heel) or a wedge under the heels, this reduces the cantilever by having the buttocks not too back by the advancing knees. This allows for greater amplitudes with the thighs flexion.

With that, we feel better the quadriceps work by limiting the torso’s inclinaison and the work of the gluteus maximus and spinal erectors.

The low barbell and raised heel combination allows you to lift heavier weights. This technique is recommended for rangy people and people with stiff ankles to correct their positioning at squat.

Front squat to target quadriceps

anatomy body squat morphology knee big belly

Front squat limits the torso’s inclinaison. This has the effect of reducing the work of the lower back, decrease the tension of hamstrings muscles and adductor magnus muscle.

On the other hand, front squat increases the cantilever, which forces quadriceps to make more effort to extend the thigh on the leg.

Which means it’s the perfect squat for thighs. But it’s not possible to lift heavyweights like the classic squat and it’s recommended to do it with heels elevated for better stability.

For rangy people, front squat is very hard to do. The torso of rangy people is more inclined, which make it more difficult to hold the barbell which may fall forward during the execution of the movement.

Spread the legs to less incline the torso

anatomy body squat morphology knee big belly

There is a squat’s technique to limit the torso’s inclination. This involves spreading the legs with the feet outward. Some powerlifters do this technique with the legs almost wide apart. With the legs apart, this limits the legs flexion.

To be able to squat with the legs apart, it’s necessary to have an adequate bone conformation of the hip joint and to be flexible of the thighs adductor muscle. Which means, it’s a technique that can’t be used by everyone.

The advantage of the big belly

anatomy body squat morphology knee big belly

Having a big belly for squat and deadlift allow to compress it against the thighs. This helps to limit the inclination of the torso and the back’s rounding. This has the effect of protecting the lower back and limiting the risk of herniated disc.

It’s for this reason that we can see a lot of heavyweight champion of powerlifting or weightlifting with a big belly. They take care to keep their belly fat with an excessively rich diet.

Different forms of knees

anatomy body squat morphology knee big belly

In bodybuilding, it’s important to take into account the different morphologies of the individual and especially for the knees.

Arched legs (genu varum) are not more risky than normal legs. For people with X legs (genu varum) or people who can overly extend the thighs (genu recurvatum), it’s often recommanded to not do leg exercises with very heavy weights.

Cases of genu valgum are often :

  • In people who were overweight during their youth when leg bones weren’t fully developed and still « malleable ». Legs are deformed because of the overload. Now, they have this X shape.

  • In women. The fact that women have wider hips to have children, this influences the femurs direction which are generally more inclined.

For people with genu valgum. If the genu valgum is to excessive, the joint would be overused. The medial collateral ligament would be extremely tense. The lateral meniscus, the articular surfaces coated with cartilage of the external condyle of the femur, and the external lateral tuberosity of the tibia would be subjected to excessive friction, which would cause pathologies of wear.

For people with genu recurvatum. These are people who are essentially very flexible named hyperlaxes or women whose muscular and ligamentous hyperlaxity is related to reproductive function.

Rarely pathological, knees with genu recurvatum can sometimes have some problems like the meniscus pinching. This can happen when the knees are rapidly expanding and the meniscus haven’t had enough time to slip, or during an exercise with a heavy weight that has forced the hyperextension of the thigh.

It’s for this reason that it’s recommended to people suffering from a genu recuvatum pathological never to totally block the knees at the end of extension to the squat or to the leg press.

Note

For 2 people who are the same size, it’s important to consider the torso-leg ratio.

anatomy body squat morphology knee big belly

Type A :

People with proportionally long legs and a short torso will have trouble doing a proper squat without tilting their torso excessively forward.

On the other hand, the short torso (which limits the cantilever) facilitates the execution of the good-morning, classic deadlift and Romanian deadlift.

Type B :

People with proportionally short legs and a long torso will have the facility to squat safety without tilting their torso excessively forward. It’s for this reason that the great champions of powerlifting squat specialist have this type of morphology.

Share this article if you think it can help someone you know. Thank you.

-Steph

Adapt Your Training To Your Morphology (Part 1)

morphology

I read a Frederic Delavier’s book « Strength Training Anatomy » and I learned good stuff.

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

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.

morphology brevilineal rangy

morphology deadlift

Ankles flexibility

ankle morphology

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.

morphology deadlift

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.

To read Part 2, click here.

Share this article if you think it can help someone you know. Thank you

-Steph

Biceps Tendon Rupture

biceps brachiitTendon rupture

I read a Frederic Delavier’s book « Strength Training Anatomy » and I learned good stuff.

Rupture or tear of the biceps long head is the serious injury the most frequent in sport

This injury usually appears on a muscle weakened by tendinitis caused by a sudden movement of the arm. Sudden arm movements are usually thrown like baseball, tennis, throwing sports and also Olympic weightlifting during the snatch. At this point, all tension transferred to the biceps long head which breaks most often where the tendon passes into the intertubercular sulcus of the humerus.

In bodybuilding, this injury is a little different, especially with the deadlift.

There is a technique in deadlift which consists of having a hand with a pronated grip and the other with a supinated grip to lift heavier weights and to avoid that the barbell rolls in the hands.

This simple technique is at the origin of the rupture or the disinsertion of the lower of the biceps (where the muscle is inserted on the humerus). Fortunately, this injury rarely happens.

During the positive phase of the deadlift, the muscles that work are legs, glutes, back and abs. Arms relaxed but they stretched as cranes cables.

Unfortunately, when a hand is with a supinated grip this shortens the biceps (the biceps is extremely powerful with a supinated grip). The result is that there is tremendous tension due to the heavy weights which cause the tearing or total rupture of the tendon of the radius. The biceps with a supinated grip works more than the biceps with a pronated grip.

In the deadlift, the injury is exclusively on the distal tendon of the muscle. The arms hang along the body, which causes the tension to be distributed at the top of the muscle between the tendons of the short head and the long head. For other exercises when the tension is at the bottom of the muscle, the tension is supported on a single tendon insertion.

biceps brachiitTendon rupture

The rupture of the biceps tendon causes a pain relatively moderate compared to the severity of the injury. If we compare the rupture of the biceps tendon with the major pectoralis or the adductors of the thighs, the pain is different. With a rupture of the major pectoralis tendon or adductors of the thighs, the suffering is so strong that the athlete must stop the effort.

It often happens that during a powerlifting competition, athletes who have a rupture of the biceps tendon during the deadlift, continue until the end of the movement.

When this injury occurs, there is swelling in the forearm because of hemorrhaging. But the most surprising thing is the retraction of the biceps which forms a ball at the top of the arm near to the pectoralis major and deltoid. This biceps retraction causes the brachial muscle in the lower arm to be more exposed.

biceps brachiitTendon rupture

It’s always possible to make a flexion of the arm with the rupture of the muscle, which less powerful than before, thanks to the brachial muscle, brachioradialis, long and short radial extensor of the carpus and the pronator teres muscle. On the other hand to make a movement with a supinated grip is a problem because the end of the movement is only carried out by a single muscle, the supinator muscle.

You have to be careful because this injury should be treated quickly by surgery to restore the brachial biceps tendon to the radius. If this surgical operation is not performed in time, the ball will have a fibrous transformation and retraction will be final. The arm’s mobility will always be possible but the loss of strength in flexion and supination is inevitable.

There is a solution to avoid this type of injury with deadlift with a bicep work to have a tendinous reinforcement. This exercise is to do a flexion only with forearms with a straight barbell. This exercise reinforces the biceps distal tendon but be careful by controlling the movement.

Share this article if you think it can help someone you know. Thank you.

-Steph

Importance Of Shoulder Straightening

kyphosis

I read a Frederic Delavier’s book « Strength Training Anatomy » and there is good stuff.

We spend several hours sitting in a day. It’s relaxing but it can create a problem. This problem is the Kyphosis which is the rounding of the upper back with shoulder enrolement forwards.

We can have this bad position because of the hypotonicity (decreased muscle tone) of muscles bringing together shoulder blades and external rotator muscles of arms or because of the hypertonicity of torso’s muscles (usually for men, excessive training of chest).

As you know, it’s a bad posture and it’s important to rebalance all that. Exercices that do this are exercice that work posterior deltoid (back of shoulder) like one arm rear deltoid fly with cable, low pulley bent-over lateral raises and others.

kyphosis muscles

Note : For deadlift, the rounding of the upper back limits the power of lifting, that why it’s important to straighten your shoulders to use all your potential.

Share this article if you think it can help someone you know.

-Steph