For the Best Fitness Results You Need to Load to Unload

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                                                                                                                                                                                           ‘always moving forward’



11 Responses to For the Best Fitness Results You Need to Load to Unload

  1. Brett says:

    Only you would work out the biomechanics and physiology involved with a baby turning over! lol

    Good post. Really reminds me to remain more conscious of the mind/body connection in movement initiation.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks Brett! Yeah, I really believe we some of the best movements in young people. And as we get injured, become desk-jockeys and lose motivation our ability to move deteriorates.

      Keeping working hard.

      Chris ‘always moving forward’

  2. Anny says:

    Hi Chris, great food for thought. I am really liking the “push” in our workouts and this article helps to understand where you are teaching us. Also appropriate for all ages and levels of activity. Thank you.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks Anny: I always think it helps to be able to explain why you are doing something. You are right about this being good for all ages and levels.

      Chris ‘always moving forward’

  3. Wonder Woman says:

    A good reminder how many body parts / systems are involved in any movement, not just the primary contraction we might think of.

    I like the video! Adds a nice touch. It adds a personal tone and a lively element to the message.

    Well done, once again!

    • Chris says:

      Thanks for the feedback WM!

      Will have more videos to come.

      Chris ‘always moving forward’

  4. George says:

    Balance and Reaction come to mind. It seems to me that in order for anything to be truly effective it must have balance. Also, for every action there is reaction and with cause comes effect.

    • Chris says:

      George: I would agree that we need balance in the sense of centre of gravity over base of support. Also in the sense of moderation. And there is definitely a chain reaction that occurs for example as a result of ground reaction forces.

      Thanks for reading.

      Chris ‘always moving forward’

  5. Jim Mck says:

    Great post Chris, i actually read it before hittin the hill today. In particular we had some new snow, and when riding powder you can become lazy, and taken by surprise when the terrain suddenly changes and not having correct movemnets can either mean wipeout or early fatigue. Thanks!

  6. Gretchen says:

    The complexity of the human body perplexes and amazes me. A couple of thoughts…these types of posts contribute to better understanding why I am stronger as I go through strength sets. As my body repeats the movement, more and more of it becomes involved and efficient.
    This information also reminds me that if I had continued to compensate for injury (missing AC etc )using a brace or limiting my activities, I would not be able to lift, move or participate in activities like I do and I would be a pain killer junkie. I do not wear a brace and I have NO pain because of the alignment and strength work you make me do.
    Thank you thank you thank you.

    • Chris says:

      Gretchen: You rock! You are pain-free and performing because you apply the information on a consistent basis. Keep doing what you’re doing.

      Chris ‘always moving forward’

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