Power lifting is a sport in which the participant lifts as much weight as they can (while standing) from the floor to overhead. It’s pretty obvious that to be a power lifter, you must have strong muscles. But given that two power lifters have the same body type, the same work ethics and commitment and the same coach, what makes one power lifter stronger than another? It’s not the strength of the specific muscles – it’s how they’re used. That is, the mechanics of motion. It’s the use of linear mechanics that improves the power lifter’s level of performance.
There are two types of body mechanics – linear and torsional. Linear (straight) mechanics is where the weight bearing joints function around their anatomical (non twisted) neutral position. This allows the muscles that cross these weight bearing joints to function symmetrically and in concert with one another. This means that one group does not become over developed relative to its contra lateral group. This allows the body to move with the greatest efficiency; least amount of joint wear and greatest amount of muscular power. Athletes refer to this position as the ‘sweet zone’ and aspire to be in that position whenever they are competing.
Conversely, torsional mechanics are where the weight bearing joints function around a twisted or distorted position. This prevents the muscles that cross these joints from functioning symmetrically and in concert with each other. This means that one group becomes more overly developed relative to its contra lateral (antagonistic) group. This prevents the body from moving with the greatest amount of efficiency; creates greater joint wear and less muscular strength. This is the position that the power lifter tries to avoid when competing.
While torsional mechanics prevent the muscles from developing maximum power and put the muscles and joints at greater risk of injury, linear mechanics allow the power lifter to perform at their best, only limited by their inherited physiological parameters, such as; height, weight, muscular development, nutrition, degree of training, etc.
A good example of this principle is observed in the photo below. The power lifter is concerned with (1) establishing a solid foot to ground position (‘the sweet spot’) where the foot functions around its anatomical neutral position and (2) preventing any torsion or twisting in his legs, hips or shoulders while lifting (i.e., linearity of movement). If either of these two principles is compromised, the weight lifters’ level of performance dramatically suffers.
At a workshop for power lifters at Gold’s Gym in St. Petersburg Florida, I noticed one particular athlete having great difficulty with his lifts. First, he would spend several minutes before each lift trying to find the ‘sweet spot’ between his feet and the ground, where he felt most stable. Then as he started to lift, I saw that he had great difficulty keeping his right shoulder from rotating forward as he power lifted 500 lbs (the maximum amount he could lift). I also noted a counter clockwise torsion in his thoracic spine as his feet pronated (abnormally twisted).
This athlete was having problems because his feet were twisting as he lifted the weights, which resulted in torsional mechanics. With the athlete’s permission, I placed a specific proprioceptive insole under his feet, which would decrease his foot twist. This in turn, would take the athlete from torsional mechanics into linear mechanics. He then repeated his power lift of 500 lbs.
The results were that the power lifter found his ‘sweet spot’ within several seconds (instead of minutes). I saw a more linear motion in his mechanics. For example, his right shoulder was not as forward as he lifted. His foot alignment improved (i.e., less pronation) and he lifted 500 lbs with considerably less effort.
Then the athlete immediately increased his lifting weight to 525 lbs and was able to lift this greater weight for the first time in his life!
What does this show?
- Torsional Mechanics = fatigue, weakness and loss of endurance.
- Linear mechanics – obtained through the use of the correct proprioceptive insoles – improves power, strength, endurance and the overall level of performance in power lifting.
If you are an athlete, reading the Curing Chronic Pain website will give you more information about the abnormal foot structures I discovered that can hinder you from achieving your full potential and help you to determine whether an Initial Phone Consultation with Professor/Dr. Rothbart might be helpful.
To find out if you may have one of two common inherited, abnormal foot structures that prevent you from reaching your optimal level of performance, take the Rothbarts Foot Questionnaire.
For a more complete explanation of the Rothbarts Foot and PreClinical Clubfoot Deformity, read: Abnormal Foot Structures That Cause Chronic Pain.
As you learn more about my innovative therapy, you may find that addressing and effectively treating your foot structure may be the missing link to eliminating your repetitive overuse injuries.
If you have questions about what’s involved in being treated with Rothbart Proprioceptive Therapy by long distance, see our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Page by clicking here.
If you would like to contact me regarding an appointment, click here.