You Are Not a Pez Dispenser
Written by Cat Blatner
It’s important that we understand how to keep our spine in a neutral position while lifting weights. The spine is one of the most precious parts of our body and therefore we must protect it with all that we do. During heavy lifting or high volume lifting, it is important that we are not constantly putting our spine into compromising positions. (Excessive flexion or extension).
This is not just to be said about our lower spine, it also includes our Cervical spine (aka- your neck). Often times I will see athletes bobbing their heads around like crazy during movements like the kettlebell swing or the deadlift. I hope to shine some light on the difference between maintaining a neutral spine vs. creating what we call the Pez dispenser position.
We have a tendency to keep our eyes forward on certain lifts. This is a great habit when squatting or doing Olympic style lifting when our body position allows for this while maintaining a straight spine.
However, when it comes to hinging we are creating a different angle in the back. In this case your eyes must adjust accordingly.
Slow Down the Movement:
I know that this is a hard habit to break. Especially if you are so used to keeping your eyes forward on your deadlifts and kettlebell swings. Slow down your deadlifts for a few reps during your warm-up sets to ensure that your neck is staying in a neutral position throughout the entire lift. As you warm-up you will find that it will become easier to maintain. This habit just takes a little awareness and patience but it is VERY important as compromising our spine is a harmful to our health.
PVC Pipe Drill:
If you are still having trouble keeping your head neutral while hinging, try this funny but effective drill! Place a PVC pipe straight down your spine. Have a partner assist you so that you can concentrate on proper movement. The goal is to maintain 3 points of contact throughout your hinge:
1: Back of the head
2: Middle of the shoulder blades
3: Lower back
If you have trouble maintaining these three points of contact, just slow down and modify your range of motion slightly. This is just a great way to build some muscle memory and awareness of your spinal position.
Hope these simple tips help you in your hinging movements! It might feel awkward at first but will become habitual the more you practice. Always important to keep your spine safe!
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