Because we wear spandex and show off our arms when we lift. Nah. That's not the reason at all. I still have the image of South Korea's Sa Jae-Hyouk's elbow dislocation stuck in my head and have been thinking how we can prevent such injuries in weightlifting. Yes, we can't really do much to stop a freak accident from happening. But if we can make a joint stronger, catching the weight with extended arms will be safer right? This led me to think of what we can do just to stay safe in the sport. First thing to do is to look at how the accident occurred. If you observed it properly, the nature of the dislocation seems to be a hyperextension of the elbows when locking out in the catch position.
Here are my thoughts on that. Hyperextension of the elbows could be a result of two things: an unstable joint or triceps being too dominant. This guy has been in the scene of Olympic weightlifting for years. So having an unstable joint may not be possible unless he has been overtraining and he somehow did something to endanger the integrity of his joint stability. Highly unlikely.
Why then do I think it is the triceps being over-dominant in the catch phase which caused the dislocation? We do alot of pressing movements in weightlifting. The catch phase in the jerk and the snatch involves extension of the arms and locking them out. Half the time (at least for myself), we do not execute the catch as ideally as possible and end up having to involve some form of pressing out in the movement. Because of that amount of pressing we do as weightlifters, our shoulders and triceps tend to be strong.
However, we also tend to forget that to execute arm extension properly, the biceps actually contract eccentrically to prevent the arm from over-extending. This brings us to anatomy where in our muscle-tendon junction, we have the Golgi tendon organ which provides the Golgi tendon reflex. Basically what the Golgi tendon reflex does is that whenever a muscle experiences an excessively heavy load, signals are sent from the golgi tendon as they are being stretched and to prevent excessive strain which results in probable tearing of the muscle/tendon, these signals are sent to the spinal cord and subsequently, signals are sent back to the muscle to make the muscle relax.
So what actually ends up happening is the muscle loses all that strain and gives way. If you think about it in the case of an elbow dislocation, what actually happens especially under a strong load is that the weightlifter is trying his hardest to lock his arms out, activating the triceps. However, if the triceps are too strong and the biceps, while working eccentrically to prevent hyperextension of the elbow, gets stretched or the golgi tendon reflex gets activated, the biceps actually relax and do not do their job of preventing hyperextension, resulting in the elbow giving way. And looking back at it, it comes from the triceps over-powering the movement itself.
Yes, it is all theory at the moment. What I am putting out to everyone out there is that joints have the agonist and antagonist muscle groups to support its movement and stability. We need to ensure that there is balance in the muscle groups to allow for injury prevention to occur.
Picture by lifitngcovered.com.
Stay Strong and Keep Curling,
The Training Geek.