I grew up with the father who was a coach, who coached every sport imaginable: football, softball, volleyball. Girls and boys. It didn’t matter.
He loved watching athletes. There was never a day at our house without some sporting event on the television. Even before ESPN, sports seemed to provide the 24-hour background sounds of my life.
My father did not have a formal education in human movement. Rather, he was a teacher. But he was also a student, studying human movement his entire life.
He could pick an athlete out of a bushel of kids in a New York minute. How? He knew it by the way they used their BOOTY! He has been gone a long time, but I can still hear him say, “did you see how he/she got his [booty] into it? That kid is an athlete!
This statement that my father made over and over really spoke to the essence of human movement as it pertains to the ability to create power by driving through the hips [the BOOTY].
Clearly, football coaches realize that driving off the line from a three-point position is all about driving through the hips. Baseball coaches know the powerful pitch doesn’t come from the arm, it starts with a drive through the hips, as does the powerful swing of the bat.
This doesn’t just apply to athletes. It applies to all functional human movement. To move requires the ability to create power through the hips…the booty.
Physical Therapists, Performance Coaches and Personal Trainers all need to teach people how to get their booty into their every day movements to improve their health and their performance.
They can achieve this with the holy grail of exercise: the dead lift.
If properly executed, a dead lift not only helps strengthen the hips, but it also teaches proper alignment of the feet, knees, spine and shoulder blades.
When properly executed, the dead lift teaches a habit of moving in the most efficient way for humans.
Dead lifts should be an integral part of all strength programs, from professional athletes to grandmothers. Whether you are recovering from surgery, having general leg or back pain or you want to improve your sport performance; the dead lift is a quintessential exercise.
Proof is in the core. It seems EVERYONE knows how important it is to strengthen your “CORE.” Your core consists of all of the muscles that attach to your spine, hips and shoulders. Primarily, your back, butt and gut. The dead lift not only strengthens your glutes (booty muscles) and teaches the proper pattern of movement, it is also a highly effective core strengthening exercise.
The chart below shows which muscles are working the hardest during two slightly different dead lifting techniques. The two muscle groups that work the hardest are the external obliques and the rectus abdominus. These are your stomach muscles! Great core work!
So whether you are a high-level athlete, recovering from surgery, want to run faster in your next 5K, swing the golf club better or just want to protect your joints, a dead lift should be an essential part of your training.
Just as a properly executed Dead lift can be the Holy Grail of exercise, an improperly executed Dead lift can cause injury. I recommend instruction from your physical therapist or your strength and conditioning specialist prior to adding a dead lift into your training regimen.
About the Author: Natalie Conway, PT OCS ATC is the Regional Director for Tidewater Physical Therapy in Gloucester which includes two Physical Therapy clinics and one Performance Center. Natalie has a special interest in preventing chronic back pain and teaching people to lift properly to avoid back injury both in the work place and at home.