Benefits of Competitive Strength Sports and Injury Prevention. Vol 1

The movements of competitive strength sports are more widely applicable than many would believe. With the explosion of fitness as a way of life to promote longevity; many long time feats of strength are filtering into normal daily life. Conveyed via social media the benefits are becoming more and more apparent as the ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ bombard your individual streams and walls.
Lifts that will be discussed and shown their practical world benefit are as follows:

Farmer carries, Stones, and Sleds

Farmer carries:

If you have not heard of these then listen up! These are a must perform.  Simply put, if you do not like to make multiple trips from the market to your car and from the car to your fridge this is the movement you want to front load in your routine. The movement is a competitive carry in the sport of Strongman.  Competitors will grab specifically crafted handles weighed down by anything you could imagine. Benefits of this activity is core stability, grip endurance, and increasing your activity on the day. This translates to being able to carry your bags easier, having a more confident handshake and only taking one trip from the car.  Next time you head to the grocery store bring your canvas bags that get you a 6 cent credit per bag and leave the cart in the stack. You’re going to be more conscious of your purchases and you’re getting stronger.  At home you could grab your match luggage and load them up with canned goods and march about the house. You could even load up the wheelbarrow filled with your favorite weighty substance or trade off with your friends and family taking a ride.

Atlas Stones:

Another underutilized strength movement that has more practical application than just athletic competition is the lifting of Atlas stones. Large variable weighted spheres are used in conjunction with variable height platforms in Strongman competitions. The aspect of lifting this awkward and densely weighted object put the participant in positions that do not appear to be all that athletic or powerful.  A rounded back combined with a heavy weight were always considered recipe for back injury. However, with proper bracing of the abdomen and gradual progression in weight applied one can prevent injury in this position by training this activity. Application in your daily life would be at use when moving furniture which is never shaped like a barbell.  Also the lifting of small humans, some call them babies.  Also lifting of large humans, most likely later in the evening or early morning after excess libations. At home getting a seabag or sandbag filled with laundry or I don’t know… sand, can serves as great replacements for the specifically crafted atlas stones. Purchase of dirt, seabag, duct tape and garbage bags can make approximately 250 lbs of stones for around 75$ US.  

Sled Push/pull:

Commonplace on the football field during 2-a-days or at the strongman competition.  The aspect of loading up a sled and pushing or pulling it, speaks for itself with application. Be it the car is not moving, shopping cart at costco weighed down on the wheels, or dragging the yard clippings to the waste bin. While the steel crafted devices known as ‘prowlers’ or ‘sleds’ can be a great tool they can sit and rust when not being utilized often.  So finding ways to load up a bath rug on hardwood can be an adequate replacement.  Another would be to bring out the winter sleds on the grass in the summer and drag those about.

These movements each have specific techniques that aid in performing them for maximum benefit and one should consult with a coach who is familiar with them before dramatically increasing their weight lifted in each of these. One can get benefit from these movements as long as you appreciate your body awareness and gradually build tolerance to more weight or long time while under those weights.

Thank you for reading and wait for the next article to go over deadlift and the squat.

Dr. David Rief