Does Powerlifting Make You Stiff and Less Flexible? - FITNESS PAIN FREE

Does Powerlifting Make You Stiff and Less Flexible?

It’s well established in our medical literature that in specific sports like baseball (pitchers) athletes will lose range of motion in their shoulder throughout the course of both a single game and through a season. This reduction in range of motion also correlates with an increased risk of injury.⠀

I was chatting with my boss Lenny the other day about this article from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that shows some similar findings in powerlifters. What this study showed was that:⠀

Powerlifters lost shoulder extension, external rotation and internal rotation when compared to age matched non-powerlifters. Powerlifters also had more hamstring flexibility when compared to controls. Lastly, the better a powerlifter was (compared to others in their weight class) the bigger the differences in mobility were compared to controls.⠀

It makes sense that from all of the partial range pressing (bench press variations) the pecs and delts may get stiff. Also, with all of the hip dominant squats and deadlifts, the hamstrings would need adequate mobility to perform the lifts correctly (thus maybe the increase in hamstrings mobility).⠀

My bigger questions are:⠀

  • Is this reduction in range of motion reflective of an athlete that’s nearing an injury?⠀
  • Are these adaptations beneficial? ⠀
  • Are stiffer athletes just better powerlifters? ⠀
  • Should we try to intervene with mobility to prevent future injury?

This article was interesting and a step in the right direction but honestly just left me with way more questions then answers. What are your thoughts?⠀

So stiff I can’t comb my hair but I kill it on the bench,

Dan Pope DPT, OCS, CSCS

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