This is the first article in a series that will deal with common breaks in form for the common CrossFit exercises. It’s super important that you are always aware of your form, and know when it’s starting to break during all your training efforts. Keeping good form is your best insurance when it comes to preventing injuries.The rule of thumb is to always prioritize your form during all your training efforts.
Ironically, for some exercises like the deadlift, you can almost assuredly move more weight with poor form. Training, however, is not the time or place for that. If you are competing and you decide to let the wheels come off in exchange for putting up bigger numbers, and you’re aware of the potential cost of that decision on your body, that’s up to you. I’ve seen people PR (set a personal record) their deadlift by 50 pounds or more, but with extremely rounded backs that are spinal surgeries waiting to happen. If you’re a professional powerlifter and you’re in a competition and about to set a world record, go for it, but if you’re the everyday CrossFit athlete who is simply trying to build fitness, it isn’t worth it. Period.
We hammer the performance points for things like the deadlift every time it shows up in a WOD (workout of the day), so the focus of this article is what to pay attention to when you’re working out to avoid the biggest potential problems.
The two photos in this article highlight what good and bad deadlift form look like. While there are a lot of important performance points in the deadlift that we cover in class, the main thing to be aware of during WODs and training is your back position.
The rounded back is the most common problem in deadlifting and it’s the one that will land you in spinal trauma the fastest. Rounding the back puts extra compression on the discs of the low back and it’s a herniation waiting to happen. Don’t do it.
The kid in the bad form photo also has his neck super hyper-extended, which is another problem. Contrast this to the photo of the good deadlifting position. The spine, including the neck and head, is in its neutral position for the most part. This is a spine that has the greatest amount of stability possible from the supporting musculature. Bad Form Kid has a spine that is flexed and completely disorganized, so his abdominals, glutes and diaphragm are not in their ideal positions to protect the core.
What’s best about keeping form during an exercise like the deadlift is that if you cannot possibly over-lift and injure yourself during if your form is perfect. It’s the closest thing to impossible we have. It’s tough when fatigue sets in, you’re competing with the people in your class, etc, but if you remember simple things like keeping your back in its natural, neutral state during deadlifting for every lift, you should walk out with not only a stronger body but also one that feels a heck of a lot better.
Post by contributing author, Steve Agocs, D.C. (Chiropractor, educator, CrossFit Level 1)