Purpose: Improper lifting techniques may increase injury risks and decrease performance. The aim of this study was to compare and contrast biomechanical parameters between sumo and conventional style deadlifts and between high- and low-skilled lifters who participated in the powerlifting event during the 1999 Special Olympics World Games.
Methods: Two synchronized video cameras collected 60 Hz of data from 40 subjects. Parameters were quantified at barbell liftoff (LO), when the barbell passed the knees (KP), and at lift completion.
Results: Compared with the conventional group, the sumo group had a 100% greater stance width, 20% smaller hand width, 10% less vertical bar distance, a more vertical trunk at LO, a more horizontal thigh at LO and KP, a less vertical shank at KP, and greater forefoot abduction. The sumo group generated ankle dorsiflexor, knee extensor, and hip extensor moments, whereas the conventional group produced ankle plantar flexor, knee flexor and extensor, and hip extensor moments. Compared with low-skilled lifters, high-skilled lifters had a 40% greater barbell load, 15% greater stance width (sumo group only), greater knee flexion at LO (conventional group only), greater knee extension at KP, a less vertical shank position at LO (sumo group only), 15% less vertical bar distance, less first peak bar velocity between LO and KP (conventional group only), smaller plantar flexor and hip extensor moment arms at LO and KP, and greater knee extensor moment arms at LO.
Conclusions: The sumo deadlift may be more effective in working ankle dorsiflexors and knee extensors, whereas the conventional deadlift may be more effective in working ankle plantar flexors and knee flexors. High-skilled lifters exhibited better lifting mechanics than low-skilled lifters by keeping the bar closer to the body, which may both enhance performance and minimize injury risk.