The Man Who Cried Wolff’s Law or Adaptation and Plasticity 


A quick overview of Wolff’s law demonstrates that the bodies given the right stimulus (volume and frequency of a load or movement pattern) will grow connective tissue (this includes bone, fascia, and muscle, ligaments, and tendons) to compensate for a load and movement pattern. The body does this to become efficient in a posture or against a repetitive tension. A similar way to look at Wolff’s law is to watch a plant grow near a window. The plant climbs towards the sun, similarly the body constructs it’s matrix to compensate for a load.
“How does this affect me?” as a lifter or athlete or desk jockey one might ask. Looking at Wolff’s law the body constantly receives stimulus via gravity, and impact. If I sit for too long the body conforms to the seated position.  If a person were to exclusively deadlift the body will conform to my repetitive oscillations up down, up down, up down. The greater the number of reps with less than technical the form and the more movement errors/compensation patterns, the more the body will conform. Following the deadlift phase and moving into a front squat phase the posture for the front squat will take some time before it feels natural and upright the volume measured in total tonnage will take a hit because the mechanical disadvantageous aspect of front squat by comparison to deadlift. All that aside your fascia has been aligning itself to be more efficient to stabilize a load in deadlift posture, along with your muscles your traps will likely be tight from the phase of dead and make maintaining low trap in the hole an issue. Slower adaptation is occurring in the bone structure but the osteoblasts are building bone to higher density in positions favorable to the deadlift load and your osteoclasts are breaking down un needed bone where tension is to low to matter. Though given the deadlift load is so high I would doubt osteoclasts are involved in theory.
This is all part of the bodies adaptation, and the bodies plasticity to conform to the demands of gravity and volume/frequency of stimulus. Therefore if you are a teacher and work diligently grading papers over night long enough your body might conform itself to the posture of a person hunched over a paper and sooner or later may develop thoracic outlet syndrome or other epidemiology related to poor posture. All this being said the body conforms to what is done the most. Some studies demonstrate hand dominance with hyperplasia interestingly enough.(1) Multiple studies relate bone mineral density to athletic activity. BMI also has been found to correlate with bone density. (2)
What matters is being cognizant of poor posture, poor form and trying to correct it for the sake of longevity. Who wants to suffer early into retirement? Sometimes it’s best to re establish a new normal in so far as weight on the bar so that you can maintain technical form not only for injury prevention but for application. Consider how much more a deadlift can carry over to a clean, when the movement pattern more closely resembles the first and second pull of a clean.



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