Therapeutic Fitness: Teaching The Clean as a Rehabilitation Tool

The Clean is an Olympic Powerlifting movement gaining popularity with the rise of CrossFit and other functional fitness programs.

Why do our clinicians love the clean? Many of the progressions we teach patients to spare their low back and rehab other injuries are the same coaches use to teach the Clean. Integrating these traditional rehabilitation movements with full body, dynamic movement like the clean creates longer lasting results and improves daily performance.

Let's walk you through each movement to show each progression and why the clean is one of the best rehabilitation tools we have.

1. Hip Hinge

The Hip Hinge is a beginning progression used by clinicians to teach patients how to initiate flexion (bending forward) with their hips, sparing their low back from excessive loads.

It is also the first movement that needs to be mastered to initate the 'Clean'  

2. Sandbag Lift

Beginning with the Hip Hinge and progressing into lifts (or deadlifts) teaches patients how to spare their back in more functional situations (lifting a heavy object off the ground).

The start of the of the lift is also the starting position in the clean. The same cues used to teach the clean are the same cues we teach patients to properly lift and object off the ground (chest up, tension in the hamstrings, neutral spine, etc).

3. Generating Power From The Hips

Humans evolved into bipedal creatures. Which means that our hips are designed to be our load bearing and power producing joints (not the low back, knees, etc). Kettlebell swings help progress hip hinges into a more dynamic and functional move by requiring patients to catch the momentum of the weight using a full hip hinge (with neutral spine) and then generate power from the hips to get the weight back up.

As we increase the weight of a clean it becomes necessary to generate power from the hips in order to propel the weight upwards and allow us to catch in front of our body.

4. Full Squat

The squat is a good indicator of the mobility and stability of the entire lower body (hips, knees, ankles, foot). Clinicians work to improve the mobility of the hips and ankles as well as core and knee stability to rehab most injuries.

The final piece of the clean requires an athlete to catch the sandbag (in our case...usually of barbell) in a  full, front squat.

The Hip Hinge, Lift, KB Swing, and Full Squat are all progressions clinicians teach their patients to protect and rehab different areas of the body (especially the low back). In daily life, unexpected situations happen and we often don't have time to thinking through each progression. Which is why integrating these principles into a full body, dynamic movement such as the clean is so important. It allows our body to automatically get into these positions for better daily performance.

The mission at Evolve is to create smart, strong, and self reliant human beings. Our therapeutic fitness plans combine traditional rehabilitation principles with functional fitness to create long lasting results for our patients. If interested in learning more, please follow the link below to schedule a consultation.