At Nationals I had a chance to spend time with Mike Walters (our team Hero) who helped work on some of my injuries and nagging issues. Everyone who has worked with him knows the wonders he does and admires his insight into the often obscure root causes of our physical problems. Mike was the one who first taught me that chronic pain can be caused by a muscle tightness or imbalance, usually in a different location. I have stolen several massage techniques from him and used them to great success. But this time Mike pointed out something new and different to me, and it may be more important than I gave it credit for.
I snuck my way into Mike's room minutes after I settled in to Peoria so he could work on me before he got busy. Perhaps it was inspiration, perhaps he had been mulling over it for some time, or maybe something I mentioned to him triggered the thought, but he asked me to stand up and tilt my pelvis upward and pull my shoulder blades backward. He looked astounded at the change, suggesting I looked like an anatomical model. Personally I thought I was pulling a Michael Jackson dance move and trying to entice (or scare) women with my pecs. He asked me to try holding that position all the time while I walked around to strengthen the necessary core muscles.
I would have tried to incorporate this new posture into my lifts, but considering where I was.., well, good luck with that. I did however spend the weekend trying to continually tilt my hips. Back in training, I have attempted to snatch while similarly pulling in the hips. My technique was good. Surprisingly good. I had had five days off, which for me usually means I forget how to lift, and I was still a little stiff from the plane ride. But the technique at 70% intensity was almost like I was a different lifter. The bar ended up in almost exactly the right position, repeatedly, and I caught it at almost exactly the right height. I wasn't even starting from the floor; I was in the high box position or below the knees. Could it be the hips that made the difference?
The phenomenon I am fixing is known as excessive anterior pelvic tilt (http://www.mindandmuscle.net/node/286, http://nealhallinan.com/blog/strengthtraining/the-hip-flexors-and-anterior-pelvic-tilt, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vKDBmI7McM). It's a normal situation, though not healthy. For many of us who spend a large portion of the day sitting at a desk, including myself, this can be associated with a bit of laziness in the lower abdominals. Besides the many functional issues it can cause, it also makes your belly look bigger, so it must be important to address!
When it comes to Olympic lifting, core strength is paramount. Any weakness leads to a loss of power transfer from the legs to the bar. I happen to have a lot of leg strength but haven't yet been able to match my platform lifts to my theoretical potential. At first technique was the obvious issue, but I am getting to the point where my technique can't be the only limiting factor. Will this make a big difference? Might it also help increase my squats, where core strength also plays an important role? Maybe. But think about this for yourself: chances are, if you're reading this, you have excessive APT too.