Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Ball, Thomas E.

Degree Name

M.S. Ed. (Master of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education


Weight lifting--Physiological aspects; Spine; Lumbar vertebrae--Wounds and injuries


The deadlift is an exercise common to many athletes, especially weight lifters. The motion of the deadlift is a common lifting motion; it closely mimics proper technique when lifting heavy objects from the floor. Links have been drawn between repetitive lifting and low back problems, but other research has indicated weakness in or an imbalance between the abdominal and low back musculature as the cause of most back pain. The deadlift can be performed two ways, the conventional and Sumo-style. The main difference between the two styles is foot placement. A search of the literature revealed no study investigating conventional or Sumo style deadlifts done to failure and resultant spinal compression. The purpose of this study was (a) to quantify spinal compression (mm) in trained powerlifters whose 8-12 RM (repetition maximum) load greatly exceeded loads used in previous research, (b) investigate the correlation between duration of the load and the amount of compression observed, and (c) observe the recovery of stature following at least 10 minutes of standing rest. Twelve experienced male powerlifters were used in this study (age: 25.4 yr + 2.4; ht: 1,782.2 mm + 109.0; wt: 90.3 kg ? 9.4). Each subject visited the lab twice and performed four warm-up sets and two work sets of an 8-12 RM in the conventional and Sumo-style deadlift. Ten consecutive stature measurements were taken on a stadiometer accurate within 1.0 millimeters at six different times during the testing protocol (M1-M6). Spinal compression in this study ranged from a loss of 0.8 - 19.8 mm. Recovery of height ranged from a gain of 0.1 - 2.9 mm. The change in stature in Compression 1 and Compression 2 between the conventional and Sumo-style deadlift did correlate highly; r =0.85 and 0.87, respectively.' The next strongest relationship was found between duration and volume in the second set of Sumo-style deadlifts (r = 0.39). As hypothesized, no significant differences were expected or found between the two styles of deadlift. Duration of exercise did not significantly correlate with compression or volume (# reps x load) for any of the variables compared in this study. Partial correlations controlling for volume accounted for an additional 1.2 - 6.9 % of the variance. Partial correlations controlling for height accounted for additional 12.2 - 27.8 % of the variance. A mean of 101.5% of stature returned following the 10-minute recovery periods. Future investigations of this nature should focus on even more stringent control of stature between successive measurements and use X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging to quantify spinal compression.


Includes bibliographical references.


75 pages




Northern Illinois University

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