Lumbar spine loads during the lifting of extremely heavy weights

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1991 Oct;23(10):1179-86.


The reaction moments at the knee, hip, and L4/L5 joints, and the compressive and shearing forces on L4/L5 are documented in powerlifters competing in a national powerlifting championship. Analyses were made of 13 female and 44 male competitors. The joint moments and forces were estimated from a linked segment model (WATBAK) that incorporated functional low back extensor musculature with a moment arm of 6 cm and a line action that was oriented 5 degrees posteriorly to the L4/L5 compression axis. This oblique orientation of the extensor muscles reduced the anterior shearing load on the vertebral motion unit. Average compressive loads on L4/L5 were estimated up to 17,192 N while the highest average L4/L5 and hip moments were 988 and 1047 N.m, respectively. The sumo deadlift style resulted in a 10% reduction in the joint moment and 8% reduction in the load shear force at the L4/L5 level when compared with the conventional lifting style. Formulation of linear regression equations to predict the load lifted using reaction joint moments yielded substantial unexplained variability, though significant relationships were found. This analysis suggested that there is large variability in the pattern of loading joints among national class powerlifters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Canada
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology*
  • Male
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Sex Factors
  • Weight Lifting*