T Nation

Olympic lifts and Joint degeneration

I read that Olympic lifts are “…. (at very best) DEGENERATIVE for everyone” …. In an article by Dr (I think) Fred Hatfield. How true is this statement? Will doing things like power cleans and Olympic or other modified Olympic lifts affect my joint longevity in the future?

I have already had an athroscope on my knee (lateral cartilage tear). The doctor said I was likely to suffer from degenerative arthritis later in life and I do not want to perpetuate this situation.
I did not ask my doctor because he said I could be playing football in 2 months and I assumed that that meant I could do the training that goes with it.
Is weight training also degenerative in the long run. I thought that it was the opposite. I always thought it helped strengthen bones. If that is true why are Olympic lifts so much different to plyometrics or heavy squats?

Hmmm lets see i have arthrtis… and uhhhh Weight lifting can do nothing but good for your joints unless you use shit form

olympic lifts are usually frowned upon by the establishment (doctors, personal trainer, etc) because they are very technical lifts and easily have the potential to cause injury. poor technique is usually the main factor in these. as for it being any more taxing on the joints, again its probably a technique/form issue.

the only joint(s) on my body that gets sore from cleans are my elbows during the catch

If you do have knee issues I would stay a way from O-lifts for awhile until they get better but o-lift will not cause arthritis. I don’t know where your doctor came up w/ that. But, you should follow your physical thrapist rehablilitation protocal. And when you do rehabilitate your knees then try some light weight o-lifts. then progress from there.

In health,

Silas C.

Haha

Most people can’t even power clean anywhere near what they bench so I don’t think you should worry about Oly lifts. I’ve never found them stressful on the knees, not compared to heavy squats! You won’t have to worry unless you are posting big numbers and then you would have to be squatting big anyway.

The only thing that pains me is the wrists on cleans.

Fitone he’s not talking about his Doc he’s talking about Dr. Squat!

Found the info from Dr. Fred Hatfield site:

“Yeah, but what about that ballistic shock on my knees hitting the bottom during a snatch or clean? My knees can’t take it!”

Now, I’m not saying that you need to go out and start doing ballistic drops to a rock-bottom squat position with maximum weights on your body. What I AM saying is that you need to break into it slowly, doing some light stuff. But you needn’t go to rock bottom. While your body has a wonderful, built-in adaptive ability that will most certainly aid in preparing your knees for the tremendous stresses involved in moving heavy iron in your powerlifting skills, the ballistic forces involved in maximum Olympic lifting are (at very best) degenerative for everyone, including the Olympic lifters.

So you see he is talking about dropping to rock-bottom with heavy loads at speed!

This argument is as old, and about as logical as “Squats are bad for your knees, Deads are bad for your back”

Dr. Hatfield is an idiot. Yea, he squatted 1000lbs. Bill Kazmier won 3 or 4 WSM’s, but I wouldnt go to him for advice on lifting either.

Remember, “Dr.” Hatfield also developed the “Anabolic Mega-Pak” for Weider supplements. That about says it all.

Most definitely confront and conquer the knee issue before beginning O’s. I didnt listen to that advice and it hindered recovery from a pulled ligament.

Other than that, form is paramount. I think the O’s and Squats and Deads got bad names from years and years of idiots tryin to impress people by lifting more wt than they could handle with poor form. Anything done with poor form will lead to injury. Walking down stairs with poor form results in you falling flat on your face. Throwing a baseball with poor can result in shoulder and elbow problems. Driving a car with bad form can result in injury and death. But, if done correctly, you hit the bottom of the stairs while still standing, play baseball well into your older years on the beer league and make it to work unharmed.
I think it was CT - please correct me if wrong, I do not want to put words in anyones mouth - that prefers “power lift” types of the O’s. Cleans and snatches where you dont hit rock bottom. I love them, and they dont bother my knees one single bit.

Good luck and have fun.

Almost any exercise done improperly can harm you in the long term. Conversely, it is difficult to get hurt doing any reasonable exercise with proper form.

Keep in mind I do not think that certain exercises are reasonable. Some exercises will eventually harm your joints. I call them “unnatural movements” such as, behind the neck pressing. Your arms were not meant to go into that motion, especially with heavy weights. I do not know one trainee who has done this motion over time who has not had an injury. I am sure there are exceptions to this, but the exception does not make the rule!

There are a few others but that is not the point of your post.

I have been training with weights for over 30 years and I suffer no joint problems. On the other hand the friends that I began training with, and who later quit, are all fat and on medication for one problem or another.

Dr. Squat is a good man. Remember however that he is essentially a powerlifter and has not had the background in olympic lifting. If you want advice regarding olympic movements get some information from someone with a background in olympic lifting.

Some on this forum could probably tell you from experience what to look out for and what to include. If a certain movement hurts don’t do it. This sounds pretty basic, but you would be surprised at the amount of people who push through the joint pain and continue on. Foolish! Ultimately your own good judgement will keep your joints going for many years to come!

"I read that Olympic lifts are ??. (at very best) DEGENERATIVE for everyone? ?. In an article by Dr (I think) Fred Hatfield. How true is this statement? Will doing things like power cleans and Olympic or other modified Olympic lifts affect my joint longevity in the future?

I have already had an athroscope on my knee (lateral cartilage tear). The doctor said I was likely to suffer from degenerative arthritis later in life and I do not want to perpetuate this situation.
I did not ask my doctor because he said I could be playing football in 2 months and I assumed that that meant I could do the training that goes with it.
Is weight training also degenerative in the long run. I thought that it was the opposite. I always thought it helped strengthen bones. If that is true why are Olympic lifts so much different to plyometrics or heavy squats?"

The best thing you could probably do is start some kind of olympic weightlifting. But start very light, work on form, and technique. This notion that the joints are in a constant degenerative state is completely false, and in fact, as Mel C Siff points out in his book, “Fact and Fallacies of Fitness,” olympic lifting, when performed properly, can actually HELP your joints stay strong, and youthful.

I have been doing some research about joint problems. Some of the best-quality information I’ve found comes from Stuart McGill, who researches low-back disorders. (I found out about him from Testosterone’s interview a while back – thanks, Testosterone!) He shows that a moderate level of activity is best (for the spine, at least), while injuries, degeneration, and other disorders increase with a sedentary lifestyle AND with a lot of heavy lifting. In other words, too little stress on a joint is bad, but so is too much. There is some optimum in the middle. So, lifting benefits joints - to a point. Too much or too heavy can increase damage. Frankly, I had never realized this, after years of lifting with a “more is better” mentality - until I experienced problems and started looking into it.

You mentioned training for football, but also wanting healthy joints. I was enlightened by McGill’s sensible explanation that training for maximum performance is very different than training for maximum joint health and protection. If you want maximum performance, you will have to train more aggressively, and risk increased injuries and degeneration.

I don’t know about the question of Olympic lifts specifically. My impression is that “degenerative at best” seems extreme, and I would need convincing evidence to believe it. But if you feel soreness, tenderness, or warmth around a joint after any activity, it’s a sign of damage and accompanying inflammation. Obviously you must eliminate the cause of that damage before doing any more of that activity. (I say “obviously” but I’m sure there are a lot of lifters, like myself, who have ignored the irritation and gone on to regret ignoring it!)

Zeb Dr Squat was an olympic lifter before he was a powerlifter.

Il Cazo - Dr Squat may sometimes say some stupid stuff. But he was the first person that i can think of to state that speed was integral in powerlifting… which is the backbone of what westside now say! He also was probably the first after Yesis to popularise the glute ham raise machine in the west. Also an exercise that westside now use all the time. And as you stated he was one of the first or the first to squat 1000 lbs. He was one of the first people to attempt to make science and powerlifting common place. And as far as i can tell probably was the one of the first people to recognize christian thibedau and publish some of his articles…

So while he may do some shit stuff he has definetly done some good stuff too…