dead lifts are for everyone

What? You don't believe in doing dead lifts?

Have you ever had to pick something up off the ground? You leaned over in some fashion, grabbed an item, and managed to generate enough force off the ground such that the mass of that object and your body overcomes gravity?

You, my friend, have definitely done dead lifts. Because everybody dead lifts, sometimes. 

And hopefully you crushed that lift of the pencil or suitcase or toddler because your hips, abdominal, and back muscles were strong and tight, from the small fine-tuning muscles to the large movers. You had the flexibility in your hips to allow smooth decent while you maintained the spine in a neutral position. You reached down in a manner that protects the discs and vertebrae from torsional and shear forces while they are under compressive load.

Oh, but that's right. You don't believe in doing dead lifts to establish or strengthen this pattern.

So instead, when you're called upon to pick things up and put them down in everyday life, you probably collapse in at the knees, round your back, cave at the chest, and resemble a weeping willow. It's funny to me that medical and fitness professionals who think dead lift variations are unfit for any exercise program are apparently fine with this mechanical mess.

The Weepy: rounded thoracic and lumbar spine and knees collapsed toward each other. Makes me sad.

Don't get me wrong, there are alternatives for functional lifting, just no good ones.

One alternative is the "lift with your legs not with your back" Robot Lift. What does that mean, exactly? Keeping the torso strictly vertical? Go ahead and try lifting with your trunk perfectly upright. It's even worse when there's weakness or inadequate range of motion at the lumbar spine, hips, or ankles. The Robot is inefficient. You're simply not going call on The Robot to lift a stick off the ground or lift 300 boxes over an 8-hour work day. The Robot can also be extremely hard on the knees (menisci, anyone) sooner or later.

     The Robot: trunk vertical, hips super low, heels off the ground, crushing the knees.

Maybe you tried The Swan. That works well for light objects in open spaces. But the swan is a weak move that demands a lot of balance. Go ahead and try lifting a wriggly toddler with the Swam, or scooting a couch out of the tight fit in the living room.

                        The Swan: one arm forward and one leg back to counterbalance. 
              Spares the knees and lower back fairly well. Efficient, graceful, and weak.

Or, you could trust dead lifts. You could learn how to hinge the hips and knees while tilting the torso forward without slumping. You may never even touch a barbell for conventional dead lifts. Or maybe you will, working up to pulling over double your body weight off the ground with relative ease. Or maybe you'll get to more conventional dead lifts only after improving your strength and mobility with a handful of stretches and dead lift variations.

                                  Dead lift: Hip hinge, neutral spine, no collapse of knees. 

                                                  BAM! [yes - the big water bottle is full]

There's no one formula that fits everyone. But picking things up and putting them down is a part of life. Yes, you will dead lift. So you may as well do it well by incorporating dead lift variations and progressions into your training routine.

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