If your warm up is longer than your workout you have a problem. You stretch, stretch and stretch and most often than not, the stretching doesn’t seem to solve your nagging pain, and sometimes it can even make the problem worst. Understanding the CAUSE of your muscular pain is important so you can treat it effectively.

A muscle imbalance can result either from repeated movements in one direction, sustained posture, or as a result of a neuromuscular imbalance, which predisposes certain muscles to be either tight or weak.

Our sedentary habits and sitting posture every day highly predispose us to developing muscular imbalances.


Muscles prone to tightness are also known as tonic muscles, the most common you will find tightness in are the hamstrings, upper traps, rectus femoris, TFL, iliopsoas, pecs, QL, piriformis and erector-spinae.

Muscles prone to weaknesses are phasic muscles. Some of the common ones are rectus abdominis, serratus anterior, lower and middle traps, neck flexors, rhomboids, glute med and max and vastus medialis


Lets take the hip for example. You commonly complain about tight, stiff  painful hamstrings. You keep stretching in an attempt to release some tension but nothing seems to help. What you don’t know is that lengthened and overstretched muscles can also send “pain” signals. An anterior pelvic tilt is common in those who sit a lot. This pelvic tilt is caused by tight hip flexors, tight quads and tight lower back. This pulls the hamstrings and glutes into a LENGTHENED AND WEAK position, which gives you the feeling of it being taught. Stretching the hip flexors and strengthen your abdominals, glutes and hamstrings in this case will release tension and restore balance.

Who thought stretching your hip flexors could help ease your ‘tight’ hamstrings?




Part II: Good vs. Bad rounded deadlift

Part II: Good vs. Bad rounded deadlift


Alright, before y’all start freaking out and talking about shear forces, anatomy of the spine, degrees of flexion, intervertebral disc pressure or screaming out quotes from a popular beginner lifter book written by some non athletic regular person (narp) let me get some things straight. If you are stronger when deadlifting with a neutral spine, lucky you. This article doesn’t apply to you.

Let me first begin by making the distinction between health and performance. I see people get these two confused often. Elite athletes deadlift to win competitions, they don’t deadlift to be healthy. Because of this, they must utilize a technique than enables them to pull the heaviest weight possible.

Beginner lifters on the other hand, must learn the rules before they can break the rules, and learn how to deadlift with a neutral spine since this is the foundation that will keep their back healthy as they develop the technique that will suit THEM the best.


On to the fun stuff. The lumbar spine is weaker and more susceptible to injury in EXTREME flexion, where the lordosis completely disappears. Applying compression on a lumbar spine at end range of flexion, poses a high risk for disc herniation and possible nerve root damage. Slight flattening of the lumbar spine is actually protective to it, like I discussed in my previous article (Part I).

Good powerlifters avoid injury by avoiding full lower back rounding, rounding mostly from the upper back, and (this one is key) maintaining the same spinal curvature throughout the entire lift. Having said this, understand that there is NO single way to deadlift and that anatomical differences play a big role on how your spinal curvatures look. Taller people might have more pronounced lumbar and thoracic curvatures for example.


Vince Anello

In conclusion, if you want to pull the most amount of weight possible, find a technique that suits your anatomy and that feels most comfortable to you, while taking into consideration the points mentioned above. Use a neutral spine for your warm up sets and lighter sets, and as it gets heavier, allow for controlled rounding of the thoracic segments, but always avoid end range flexion. If you’re too worried about getting injured, or simply are not planning on competing stick to lighter loads forever.

Round back deadlifts are an advanced technique, and should not be taken lightly, and never used as an excuse for poor form. Its a TECHNIQUE like any other, that requires hours of practice and perfecting. You need experience to know how far/hard you can push a lift before you let go. And if you chose not to pay attention to any of this, you run the risk of  suffering from an injury sooner or latter.

Stay strong, stay healthy!




If the safest way to deadlift is with a neutral spine, why is it that the worlds best dead lifters in history lift with a rounded back? They found that this position is the one that allows them to pull the greatest load, and also to be pretty safe and stable. People get self conscious when they realize they can lift heavier with a rounded back, and automatically assume their bodies are dysfunctional. More often than not, this isn’t the case. This discussion has nothing to do with optimal spine health, its simply about techniques utilized to lift the most weight, safely.

With a neutral spine posture, you rely mostly on your back extensors (erector spinae, multifidi, QL) to keep your spine stabilized and maintain the arches. But if you slightly round your back, you get both active and passive support. So the misconception that the spine is not stable in a round position is completely flawed. The spine does indeed stabilize in a rounded position.

In a neutral position stability comes from your elector spinae, intra abdominal pressure, and muscles surrounding the core like the rectus abdominis and obliques, which when they contract they actually produce a flexion torque, meaning that they encourage a rounding back.

If you SLIGHTLY round your upper back you get active plus passive support. The thoracolumbar  fascia surrounds the muscles in the core and around the back. When the erector spinae and latissimus dorsi muscles contract they stretch out this fascia and aid in stability of the spine. The activity of the abdominal muscles naturally pull the spine and the core into slight flexion. Lastly the spinal ligaments are also more taut with the back in slight flexion.

It is important to consider the use of the word “SLIGHT”. Slight flexion implies flexing the spine a few degrees, while always avoiding end range flexion.

In conclusion, the majority of contribution in the rounded back deadlift comes mostly from active muscle contraction, but doing so allows the passive structures to also generate stability, and this is what allows us to lift heavier loads, safely. Spinal extensors are stronger in flexion, and the increased intra abdominal pressure and core strength in this position help prevent the spine from flexing too far forward, thus protecting it from injury.

Stay tuned for Part II: Good vs. Bad Rounded back deadlift

Stefanie Cohen