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One of the most gruesome mistakes you can make when doing the deadlift results in a torn biceps tendon. In this video, I’m going to show you exactly what is causing the bicep tendon tears when deadlifting and more importantly how to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.
Many people think that the exercise itself is the cause. This is not the case. Thousands of reps of deadlifts are performed every day around the world and very few of them result in a torn biceps tendon. That said, when two ingredients are in place the risk of tearing a tendon become significantly more likely.
These are the use of a mixed grip and improperly directing force into the bar through the arms at the top of the lift. Let’s look at the mixed grip first. This is a prerequisite for this injury because it places one of the hands in an underhand position via supination at the forearm. The reason this grip is used is so that someone with a weaker grip can have better grasp of the bar. The underhand provides stability by preventing the rolling of the bar out of the hands as it will with a traditional overhand grip.
That said, it also immediately activates the biceps more and places tension through the upper arm that doesn’t happen through the pronated side.
Next however, is where the combination of this and more tension along with stretch becomes the perfect recipe for disaster. When you start to reach the top of the movement the exercise becomes most difficult. You have probably seen people struggle to get through the top of the move and finish their hip extension. It is at this point that the person is likely to rely on other muscles to help get there. This is when the biceps is mistakenly relied on to try and curl the bar to the top. Big mistake.
Often times, the amount of weight being handled on the deadlift is far surpassing any weight that can be reasonably or safely curled by the biceps. Combine this with the additional stretch that gets placed on the biceps tendon at this very moment (as the arm goes from a more flexed shoulder position to a more extended shoulder position – thereby placing more stretch on the biceps in the process) and you quickly see why tears occur in the distal attachment most frequently at this point.
The best way to avoid this happening to you is to actively contract the triceps throughout every rep of the deadlift. Here is what that will accomplish. First, the contraction of the triceps around the elbow will reciprocally inhibit the action of the biceps and not allow it to contribute at the moment you do not want it to. You have essentially quieted the biceps and prevented it from administering tension into the bar.
The second benefit is that through activation of the triceps you are creating stability of the scapula due to the long head attachment of the muscle. This combined with the conscious activation of the lower traps, rhomboids and lats will help to stabilize the shoulder blade and provide more power through the lift by removing slack from the kinetic chain. It is simple to do and is something you can easily be aware of if you slip and forget to do so.
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