In my experience of working in elite sport, I’ve found the gym environment can be a very useful way to reinforce the rehab that I prescribe a player who’s coming back from injury. If you can get your players moving well in the gym, more than likely they’ll move well on the field.
One of the biggest lifts I see performed incorrectly is the deadlift. I’m a big fan of deadlifts, but when performed incorrectly it can lead to a lot of excessive load on the lower back. If I had £1 for every patient / player I treated for a tight back after deadlifting I’d be a rich man…
One of the easiest ways I find to cue the deadlift is through foot pressures. Afterall, the only points of contact we have through the movement is through the foot and the hands. I’ve found that if I can get my players shifting weight well through the whole foot they perform this exercise much better, and stimulate the tissues that I want to engage more.
Most people, when setting up for the deadlift, keep all the weight through the heels. I prefer my players to start on the midfoot. If they start on the heel they have nowhere to go…
If they start on the midfoot, they can shift the weight back towards the heels on the way down. I’m happy for them to be towards the heels as they go into hip flexion, but as they come back up to the top position I want them to shift the weight forwards towards the midfoot / forefoot. I find that this recruits a lot more hamstring, gastroc, and glute, and drive a much better posterior tilt of the pelvis. In doing so it protects the lower back from being overworked.
I also find this carries over a lot better the field of play, where the athlete has to be able to shift weight through the whole foot at various times.
Try it for yourself and feel the difference.
As always, let me know what you think!