Movement is an interesting thing. In some ways it comes naturally to us. Think of a baby on its back wiggling the arms and legs. Eventually with enough effort and momentum the baby will be able get a leg across the body, rotate the hips and flip onto their stomach.
But what starts out as an inquisitive exploration of our surroundings can lead to many great abilities in sports and performance. As young kids we are fearless and will do and try just about anything to seek a thrill and have fun.
As we get older life gets a little busier and we get a little wiser about the downside of being hell-bent for speed and thrills. Basically all we have to do is experience one injury to curb our thirst for extreme movement and velocity.
But that doesn’t have to mean sport and movement stops all together. In fact it can’t and is essential for our vitality.
So we must find that balance between fearlessly attacking a sport or activity with reckless abandom and taking ourselves ‘out of the game’ completely.
And this balance comes with being able to load and unload the forces we experience with movement. And we do this most effectively when we have neuromuscular efficiency (NE). This basically means we get the right muscles to fire, at the right time and in the right plane.
Unfortunately success in sport is not as simple as simply having NE because we still need to develop the fitness, strength and power of the relevant muscles. Add to that the demands for reading and reacting to an opponent as well as changing environmental conditions and you can quickly appreciate how skilled high level athletes really are.
In order to develop some of the athletic abilities of the pros look to be able to efficiently load and unload the body. If performing a squat for example you would want the energy you produce by being able to lower your body towards the ground to be completely available to return you to the original position.
But this gets a little more involved. You see at every joint there needs to be a particular reaction occuring. At some joints the goal is to stabilize and at others the goal is be able to mobilize and transfer the energy up our down through the kinetic chain.
When you think of an activity such as skiing on every turn there is a need for the foot to stabilize, for the arch to pronate, for the shin to internally rotate, for the knee to flex, for the femur to internally rotate and the hip to flex.
As I come out of the turn all of these actions reverse starting with the arch supinating, the shin externally rotating…all the way up to the hip extending. (since I don’t make the example too long I have left out the actions of the upper body)
So I can make my ability to turn the ski a little more effective if I can visualize my arch collapsing at the start of the turn and restoring the arch at the completion.
Better than that I can lift my pinkie toe of my right foot when turning left as this facilitates pronation and the ignition of the sequence of events described above.
As you continue on with your gym workouts, or if you get up to the hill, make sure to think about how your joints move from the loading through the unloading phase of the movement. This will make the movement more efficient and effective.
Chris okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’