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The White Elephant in Olympic Weightlifting: the role of sacrum in lifting

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Articles/Olympic Weightlifting/The White Elephant in Olympic Weightlifting: the role of sacrum in lifting

Are you one of those lifters who finds it easier to lift from a hang position than from the ground? Or perhaps you have dedicated time to training your shoulder strength and stability, but still find that the bar wobbles in the catch position?

Despite regular good mornings and GHD exercises, you may even find that your lower back pain persists especially after an olympic weightlifting session. Well, the key to unlocking improvement might be found in an often neglected component of Olympic Weightlifting training—the nuanced role of the sacrum within the pelvis.

Understanding the Pelvic Structure:

Many athletes, when asked to locate their pelvis, point towards their hip joints or have a vague idea of the hip area. This ambiguity is a fundamental issue. Precise understanding of the pelvic structure is critical for its effective utilization.

The LHPC: the structure that helps to generate more power for your olympic lifts

The pelvis consists of two ischium bones, one sacrum, and one coccyx. Expanding this to the Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex (LPHC), we include the lumbar spine and femurs.

This complex extends beyond traditional hip joints to encompass lumbosacral, sacroiliac, and sacrococcygeal joints. The sacrum, a central triangular bone, is not just another component; it's a pivotal element in force transfer in LPHC, acting as a lever between the lower and upper body. Understanding its significance is transformative for weightlifting techniques.

The Sacrum's Dual Role in Olympic Weightlifting

1.Stability for Power Transmission:

The sacrum functions as a critical lever in the body, and its stability is vital for efficient power transfer during weightlifting.

A prevalent error among lifters is an excessive forward thrust of the hips, often referred to as 'humping the bar.' Despite the perceived increase in power, this movement is biomechanically inefficient.

The reason lies in the instability of the fulcrum - the sacrum. When the sacrum is not stable, the hip joint lacks a solid base to fully extend upon, leading to a less effective and inefficient overall motion.

In comparison, a stable sacrum will ensure efficient transmission of power to drive the bar from the ground through the lift.

2. Leverage for Force Transfer:

The sacrum's unique positioning as the primary lever for force transfer between the lower and upper body is crucial. Its proximity to the body's Center of Gravity plays a significant role in the efficiency of movement.

When the sacrum is properly aligned, close to the Center of Gravity, the efficiency of the lift increases while the shear force exerted on the body decreases. This optimal alignment is key to maximizing the effectiveness of each lift while minimizing the risk of injury.

Practical Example: The First Pull

Consider the initial upward drive in a lift, akin to a deadlift. Proper sacral alignment, maintaining proximity to the body's center of gravity, ensures minimal power loss and maximum efficiency. This alignment allows for a vertical bar path, reducing wasted energy and enhancing lift effectiveness.

Misalignment, either too far forward or backward, can lead to significant issues, including lumbar spine stress or excessive knee force.

Training Focus: Finding the Right Balance

Shift the mental focus from the bar 'hanging' off your back or shoulders to it being anchored by your sacrum.

Practice this through slow-paced, controlled top-down deadlifts, taking at least five seconds to descend, to develop a keen awareness of the bar's position. Incorporating eccentric training can further strengthen tendons and improve muscle power.

Want more tips? Watch our video here.

Conclusion: Embracing the Sacrum in Training

The sacrum's role in Olympic weightlifting is pivotal. It's not just about muscle strength or technical prowess; it's about harnessing biomechanical efficiency.

For athletes, coaches, and enthusiasts, recognizing and training the sacrum's critical position fosters more effective workouts, improved performance, and reduced injury risks. It's a journey of not just lifting weights, but mastering the art of biomechanical efficiency in Olympic weightlifting.

Train like a human before you train like an athlete.

Watch the video here 

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Hi, I Am Gaby

Head Coach of Venus Weightlifting

Greetings! I'm Gaby, Head Coach of Venus Weightlifting club, the first of its kind in China. Curious how weightlifting can advance without exhaustive efforts and stiff bodies? I've unraveled this secret by integrating Chinese medical training and my innovative BAT (Body Alignment Training), catapulting thousands to their personal bests.
Ready to get your new PRs without pain? Let's embark on this journey of transformation together!

Train Like A Human Before You Train Like An Athlete!