T Nation

Power cleans and spine pain

Since I incorporated Power Cleans to my program (it’s been 4 weeks) I experience some pain in the middle area of my spine…Am I doing something wrong?

I would assume that you are not keeping your back in a straight/neutral position.

I have found that really bracing the abs helps to maintain a neutral position.

Something like this (except with a overhand grip):

I’d drop the cleans. Olympic lifting is a SPORT of its own. Without consistent and quality instruction it’s next to impossible to get the technique perfect. Why risk injury when you have such alternatives as speed squats (w/ bands and chains)

I don’t know. I was self-taught after reading CT articles. I am only using the power versions. I went in an OL meet a couple of months ago just for fun and the lifters there said my technique was pretty good.

The technique really is not that hard. Once you have a proper dead lift down (i.e. straight/neutral back) it is easy:
1 dead lift the bar to just above your knees
2 jump upwards (don’t pull with your arms!)
3 drop the bar if doing pulls or catch the bar if doing full versions

OL may be a sport in its self. But lifting large amounts (i.e. bodyweight +) of weight above your head is a magnificent feeling. I doubt I would have suck at resistance training if I did not have the enjoyment of Olympic weightlifting. Squats may be good for you but can anyone really say they are fun to do? Snatches, cleans and jerks are fun to do!

But that being said if something is hurting something is wrong. The back should no be hurting at all, especially the middle back. To me this would indicate that you are rounding your shoulders and upper back. But you probally do need someone to have a look at your technique.

I got it. I think my problem is in the end of the pull, when the bar reach the upper chest/shoulders area, I propably don’t absorb the weight enough with my legs, anyway I won’t do power cleans until the pain is gone and after that I will work on perfecting my technique with light loads. Thank you all for replying and helping me.

there are lots of olympic weightlifters in Qubec, find one for form advice and better yet handa on coaching.


I found the power snatch easier to learn first rather than the power clean. The catch is much simplier. Maybe work on the power snatch first?

“I think my problem is in the end of the pull, when the bar reach the upper chest/shoulders area, I propably don’t absorb the weight enough with my legs”

Just from reading this something else occurred to me. Maybe you are using a lot of arms to lifts the weight. Basically a cheating reverse curl. From this the bar would not stay close to the body but instead travels in an arc out from the hips and back into the shoulders. On the catch the bar is not just coming down but is also coming back towards you. Trying to stop this backwards momentum may be putting the stress on your back.

Working on your power snatch may help you learn the right technique since you really can no use you arms to lift the weight. Also the snatch makes it harder for you to swing the bar away from your body in an arc.

I agree with bluey, the over utilization of your arms during the last phase of the pull, as you described, will cause the bar to arc outward from your body, thus causing the muscles of your back to pull backwards against it and then compensate by absorbing the bar that is coming toward you from an arc instead of dropping under the bar in clean fashion. If you love cleans then I would continue to do them after you work on a bit lighter weight to get the “rope arm” technique down. Cleans were always my favorite in highschool. I’m just 19 now, but about a year ago, before I hurt my back(it’s almost recovered %100, I’d say 85%, whahoo!), I could clean 265, but only bench 250. My squat was only around 325.