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Mind Your Knees!

August 18, 2010

By Gerard Bochese

It is critical to have the knees bent to approximately 20 degrees during any forward bending activities that require lifting an object or placing an object back onto the floor.

If the knee is not partially bent to 20 degrees the gluteus maximus will not become active.  In such cases the load must initially be lifted by the hamstrings alone and then an excessive load is placed on the erector spinae musculature.  This may potentially lead to faulty motor patterning (the muscles are not firing correctly during the lifting process), predisposing the lifter to injury of the hamstring complex, and possibly the back. This may manifest itself as upper hamstring tendonitis or an overuse syndrome in the spinal erector muscles.  Furthermore, the faulty movement pattern developed during gym exercises will transfer to real-life situations.  Thus, every time you pick up or place an object on the floor outside of the gym environment you will do it with straight legs, glutes that don’t fire and overwork the back and hamstrings.

Research shows that the most common source of back dysfunction that results in disc injury is bending over and lifting or setting an object down with the knees locked in hyperextension (straight legs).

“Good Mornings” with straight legs and “Stiff Legged Dead Lifts” are the exact posture that studies have shown to create back dysfunction and disc injuries.

So, watch your back—and bend those knees!

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