For as long as powerlifting has been around people have been trying to get the edge when pulling heavy weight off the floor. We have seen conventional deadlifting, sumo, hook grip, straps and belts. What's interesting is that the one thing that has been consistent over the years with deadlifting is the position of the belt. Athletes of all sorts have been using belts without actually understanding why they use a belt or where it should be properly placed.
What does the belt do? The belt allows for proper circumferential abdominal and lumbar spine erector muscle pressure to be produced against it. You are going to set up as usual and take in a big breath into your abdomen and contract your core as if someone was to punch you. This will create a brace for your spine when you’re attempting to lift a load near maximal intensity. You are going to feel the belt push back against you which will reinforce that the proper intra-abdominal pressure has been achieved. This is important because you don’t want to cause a disc herniation, or worse, direct trauma to your spine.
Here is the secret you have been waiting for. If you elevate the belt to the bottom of your ribcage you will be able to create better expansion from your diaphragm (the muscle that helps with abdominal pressure). In the chiropractic world we notice that back pain often comes from intersections in the spine. The intersection at this point would be the T/L junction where your thoracic vertebrae meet the lumbar spine. Often enough, this is the area that people have weakness and hinge during the deadlift.
·Understand the proper spinal position for a deadlift (neutral spine)
·Have someone record your lift and review it to find the weakest area in your back
·Practice proper diaphragmatic (pressure) breaths into the belt (not into your chest)
·If using a belt place it at the area where you hinge.
·If your back hurts go see a therapist (I obviously suggest a chiropractor) to get it fixed.
·If your form is not adequate, reduce the weight and do some mobility drills and strengthen the weaker areas.
·Try the belt at mid back T/L junction to increase your intra-abdominal pressure and deadlift.
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