How to Deadlift – A Movement Deep Dive

Deadlift – A Total Body Workout

It is hard to find a better fundamental exercise than the deadlift. A time-tested move that ought to be learned by all—whether you’re a professional athlete, bodybuilder, fitness client, or grandma with back pain.

What if you don’t know how to deadlift? Or maybe you just want to get better at coaching it?

You’ve come to the right place.

This “Movement Deep Dive” focuses on the deadlift and all of its variants.

You’ll learn why the deadlift is so important, how to do it progressing and regressing the moven, and how to fix common errors.

So grab some chalk, branched chain amino acids, pen, and paper. This one’s a mother.

If you can’t watch the video right away, I’ve provided a modified transcript below. I would recommend both watching the video and reading the post to get the most out of the material.

Learn on!

Continue reading “How to Deadlift – A Movement Deep Dive”

Chapter 12: Lower Limb

This is a Chapter 12 summary of “Clinical Neurodynamics” by Michael Shacklock.

Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis syndrome often involves the fibular tract of the sciatic nerve. It has the capacity to create symptoms from the buttock down to the anterolateral leg. Testing the neurodynamics with a fibular nerve bias is essential.

To attempt to isolate this problem, we must best differentiate interface from neurodynamic components. Using Cyriax principles –palpation, contraction, and lengthening –can be beneficial in this regard. Keep in mind that below 70 degrees hip flexion the piriformis produces external rotation, and above 70 degrees it is an internal rotator.

When treating this problem, the goal is to change pressure between the piriformis muscle and the sciatic nerve.

Level 1a – Static opener


Level 1b – Dynamic opener

VID – Passive ER

Level 2a – Closer mobilization using passive IR.

VID – Passive IR

Level 2b – We finish with a passive piriformis stretch

VID – Tailor stretch

If there is a neurodynamic component to things, slightly modify things by using sliders. We start things off with the same opener as the interface above.  As the patient progresses, you can add proximal or distal components eventually finishing with a fibular nerve-based slump.

VID – Building the slump

To combine interface and neural treatments, contract-relax can be utilized.

Sciatic Nerve in the Thigh

Oftentimes with hamstring strains, sciatic nerve sensitivity can increase. The slump and straight leg raise tests can be utilized to help differentiate a pure hamstring issue from neural problems.

To treat this issue, sliders can be utilized, eventually working to a slump tensioner:

VID – PF at top for proximal dysfunction, DF at bottom for distal sliding…progress with spinal lateral flexion (done in slump

Knee and Thigh Pain

Implicating neurodynamic problems in this population is challenging, as these tests often show covert abnormal responses. These can be treated with simple sliders and tensioners. These are not in the Shacklock book, but are what I have been currently using.

VID of FS slider and tensioner

Fibular Nerve

Here is an example of a slider and tensioner for fibular nerve impairments.


Sural Nerve

And for the sural nerve.


Course Notes: PRI Myokinematic Restoration

What a Class

Wow. That’s all that really needs to be said.  I have had a great deal of exposure to PRI in the past, but I have only had one formal class under my belt. Needless to say, I was looking forward to learning more. James Anderson and the PRI folks did not disappoint.

Myokinematic Restoration was easily the best class I have taken all year.

It also helped having another like-minded group attending. You learn so much more when you are surrounded by friends. Here is the course low-down.

Disclaimer for the Uninitiated

I know there are a lot of misconceptions about PRI on the interwebz. Even though posture is in the name, PRI has little to do with posture in the traditional sense. We know posture does not cause pain, and PRI agrees with this notion. But it’s not like they can change the name of the organization now. What? Do you think Ron Hruska is Diddy or something?

I'm just not seeing it folks. Get over it.
I’m just not seeing it folks. Get over it.

After discussions with James and his mentioning this aloud in class, the target of PRI is the autonomic nervous system. Not posture, not pain, not pathoanatomy, but the brain. Essentially, they have figured out a window into the autonomic nervous system via peripheral assessment.

Moreover, PRI is not in the pain business, though many think this is the case. Hell, even in the home studies they mention pain quite a bit. But realize those were done in 2005. Would you like me to hold you to things you have said 8 years ago?

Throughout the entire two day course, pain was mentioned in two instances. The first time was this direct quote from James:

“ PRI does not treat pain.”

The second time was mentioned in the case of various pathologies, in which James put a disclaimer that PRI just puts these things in here per clinician requests.

And what James and Larry Bird says, goes.
And what James and Larry Bird say, go.

What PRI treats is position, neutrality, a state of the autonomic nervous system that is shifted towards parasympathetic but can freely alternate between sympathetic and parasympathetic states.

So if PRI doesn’t treat pain why use it? I say because the autonomic nervous system influences pain states. The potentially indirect effects on pain when the autonomic nervous system is favorably influenced seem desirable. And from my own personal experience, for whatever that is worth, my limited understanding of PRI has netted me quite a bit of success with my patients. It also requires my patients to spend less time in the clinic since they do not require my hands; good news for everyone.

Back to the Basics

The basic PRI concepts rely on asymmetry. All body systems –neurological, respiratory, muscular, visual, etc.—are asymmetrical.  This asymmetry cannot be changed, but we can strive to reduce one-sided dominance as best we can.

The side that is dominant in human beings is the right side. This lateralization is normal, but what we don’t want is the right to be overly biased. Too much right dominance essentially creates a low level left sided neglect.

The Chain

Myokin’s utmost focus is on a polyarticular muscle chain known as the anterior interior chain (AIC), which is composed of the following muscles:

  • Diaphragm – king
  • Iliacus
  • Psoas
  • Tensor fascia lata
  • Vastus lateralis
  • Biceps femoris
Here is the product of Visible Body + anal retention
Here is the product of Visible Body + anal retention

You have two of these chains, a left and a right. For a variety of reasons, such as our asymmetrical build and left hemisphere/right sided dominance, the left AIC is more dominantly active compared to the right.

You can notice this dominance just by comparing right and left hemidiphragms:

  • Right has a larger diameter.
  • Right has a thicker & larger central tendon.
  • Right has a higher dome, and is better able to maintain this shape.
  • Right has more crural fibers and fascia.
  • The right crura attach 1-1.5 levels lower on the lumbar spine than the left.
It's science folks.
It’s science.

Basically, the right diaphragm is built for success, whereas the left diaphragm is often more contracted, smaller, and less concentrically effective. This difference helps perpetuate a more active LAIC. The path of least resistance for you to have an effective breath is by activating these muscles. 

Because the LAIC is the more dominant chain, this throws the body into an asymmetrical position. The left innominate is more anteriorly tilted and forwardly rotated with the right more posteriorly tilted and backwardly rotated. This position puts the right hip into internal rotation, adduction, and extension; and the left hip compensatorily into external rotation, abduction, and flexion.

I seriously could play with this thing all day.
I seriously could play with this thing all day.

Chains and Gait

These chains oppose each other during gait. For example, when you are standing on your right leg, your LAIC is active, causing the swing leg to further put weight on the right leg. You cannot fully use one chain unless the opposite chain is inhibited, so the RAIC is quite during this phase. Inhibition allows for alternating and reciprocal gait; the goal of PRI.

Realize that as long as you are in weight bearing, you are in a phase of gait. We can base this off of pelvic positioning. Since pelvic position can be altered with breathing, it is fair to say the every time you take a breath you are put into a phase of gait. Breathing and gait are one in the same.

Pattern Testing

To assess neutrality, many common tests already utilized in the therapy realm are used. The two big tests are:

  • Modified Ober’s test (adduction drop)
  • Modified Thomas test (extension drop)

With the LAIC pattern, you will see a positive Ober’s on the left but not on the right. This finding is due to either restriction from the anterior-inferior acetabular labral rim, transverse ligament, and piriformis muscle; or impact of the posteroinferior femoral neck on the posteroinferior rim of acetabulum that does not allow femoral adduction.

The Thomas test in this pattern can be either positive or negative. A positive Thomas correlates with the adduction drop due to the limited extension. A negative Thomas test, barring a positive Ober, would implicate iliofemoral and pubofemoral ligament laxity.  If we think back to the position of the innominate, the left femur will have to externally rotate in order to face forward, which can stretch the anterior capsuloligamentous structures. Here is the same thing better explained by Bill Hartman:

You should also see limited right trunk rotation (unless there is iliolumbar ligament laxity), decreased left SLR (unless you have an overstretched hamstring), an apparent shorter left leg,  and decreased left hip internal rotation and right hip external rotation.

PRI also has a test called the Hruska Adduction Lift test, which is used to assess acetabulofemoral control in a way that correlates with gait. The scope of this test and interpretations are too much to fully write about in a short summary, so perhaps when I get better understanding all the nuances, performance, and meaning I will post on this test further.  Until then, PRI instructor Mike Cantrell wrote a great piece on the lift test here.

Myokin Algorithm

Taking the above tests, namely the adduction drop and lift test, the goal is to satisfy the following questions:

1)      Can the person adduct? (adduction drop)

2)      Can the person internally rotate on both sides? (Measurement, adduction lift)

3)      Does the person have internal rotation strength on both sides? (adduction lift)

Money Muscles

In order to inhibit the LAIC, there are several key muscles that are to be activated:

  • Left Hamstrings [sagittal repositioner]
  • Left anterior gluteus medius
  • Left ischiocondylar (hamstring portion; IC) adductor [frontal repositioner]
  • Left glute max (sagittal fibers)
  • Right adductor magnus
  • Right glute max (transverse fibers) [Transverse repositioner and the other key to maintaining neutrality].
  • Bilateral obturator interni (the key to maintaining neutrality)
  • Left abdominal obliques.

The goal is to influence the left hemidiaphragm away from its overly contracted state in order to allow better reciprocally alternating respiration, position, and gait.

Alternating is a great thing in most cases.
Alternating is a great thing in most cases.

Treating the LAIC

The LAIC patient has a positive adduction drop test and Thomas test. So the name of the game is to reposition and develop hole control. What hole control means is allowing the obturator and glute max to control the femur in the acetabulum to allow for reciprocal gait pattern.

For the LAIC, we want to activate the following muscles in the following order:

1)      Biceps femoris in ER/extension

2&3)      R Glute max & obturator & adductor magnus via ER

4)      L Anterior glute med via IR

5)      L IC adductor via IR

6)      Medial hamstrings via IR

By performing the exercises in this order, we first reposition, then establish hole control, and then retrain the person to turn to the left side.

Patho LAIC

There are certain instances in which ligaments can get stretched out and become lax. This is where the concept of ligamentous muscle comes into play, in which muscles increase their tone to reinforce capsuloligamentous structures.

The theoretical reason this order is performed is because the IC adductor approximates the femur into the acetabulum, while the left anterior gluteus medius strangulates the joint by further driving internal rotation.

For a patho LAIC, we go for the following muscles in a slightly different order:

1)      Biceps femoris to reposition

2)      L IC adductor via IR

3)      L anterior glute med via IR

4)      R glute max via ER

5)      R adductor magnus via ER

6)      L medial hamstrings via IR

In this instance, we reposition, then build ligamentous muscle, and finish by establishing hole control.

If after a successful reposition you notice mobility changes in hip rotation, you may want to proceed in the following manner:

  • Decreased left IR (v Right): Stretch posterior capsule
  • Increased left ER (v right): go after L IC adductor and L anterior glute med
  • Increased right IR (v left): Kick in R glute max and R posterior glute med
  • Decreased right ER (v left): Stretch anterior & inferior capsule

Favorite James Quotes

  • “The diaphragm owns you.”
  • “If you don’t have position and throw in demand, someone else will do it.”
  • “I find it offensive when people say iliopsoas. We don’t call it the hamductor obturatoridiosus.”
  • “Screw PT school, subscribe to Oprah.”
  • “The whole body is in a phase of gait.”
  • “The problem is the brain and the diaphragm.”
  • “Nobody is Weak.”
  • “External rotation is worthless without internal rotation.”
  • “PRI is from start to finish brain therapy and parasympathetic awareness of the left side.”
PRI eats that brain up.
PRI eats that brain up.


I cannot recommend enough courses from PRI. I base this off of the methodology, effectiveness, and thought process. They appreciate the nervous system’s power just as much as anyone. Please check them out and tell ‘em Zac sent you.

Great time with great friends.
Great time with great friends.