Jul 10th, 2010
MJJ employing the Valsalva maneuver in the midst of 22 deadlifts at 315 lbs during the 2009 NorCal Sectional.
Of paramount importance when training with barbells is maintaining the spine’s normal anatomical position. What is normal? When you stand up straight, your spine will assume something of an S-shape if viewed from the side. Near your shoulders, your spine traces the top of the S and demonstrates what is called kyphotic curvature. Your lower back also has a curve, or an arch, referred to as a lordotic curvature. This is normal anatomical position. For the purposes of this article, we are primarily interested in the lower back and keeping it in this extended, normal position when lifting weights.
Maintaining your lordotic curvature when under a load is function of trunk rigidity. The more stable and unmoving your torso, the more efficiently and safely you can transmit force to the load you wish to move. Your spinal erectors will provide isometric support for the spine in the back. The front, or anterior aspect, has only the abdominal musculature, with no corresponding bony structures to maintain stabilization. If you are to more effectively use those abdominal muscles, you need to pressurize your abdominal cavity using what is called the Valsalva maneuver. This is simply taking a big breath and holding it while closing the vocal folds of the throat, known as the glottis.