Tuesday, January 20, 2009
End Range Deranged
Most muscle pulls and strains typically occur when an athlete is attempting to generate a large amount of power at the end ranges of their available flexibility. Think for a moment when you last tweaked a hammie or pulled a hip flexor. Chances are you were making your poor little muscles over exert themselves in less than ideal ranges (IE. The End Range). Your muscles are set up to be able to generate peak power and force at typical mid ranges of motion. The ideal "length-tension" relationship of the muscle occurs when the fibers that comprise that muscle are in the best overlap/best fit position. (There is an optimal line of pull/lever arm piece too, but ignor that for now) This occurs in the bicep at about mid-range through flexing your arm for example. When muscles are stretched to their end working ranges, little overlap of those muscle fibers occur. A muscle at peak stretch is susceptible to injury because it can't develop sufficient force to protect itself. Your nervous system knows this too, and will blunt motor unit recruitment in these working ranges to keep you from taking your muscles to their end ranges too far and too fast.
But, we can always game the system. Here's how.
Getting a little quality end range static work is just what the doctor ordered.
Taking a muscle to it's end range safely, and making it do a little static hold work will work greatly to your favor.
1) You will signal your nervous system that you do in fact spend time at these end ranges and not to panic when you max split jerk and end up here.
2) You will signal your body to reinforce the quality of the the muscle fiber overlap in these extreme ranges.
3) You might actually get stronger in these bitter end posts of movement. (Think Siberia for your hip flexors)
4) You might accidentally signal your brain to make your muscles longer (stretching).
5) You will decrease the likely-hood of creating tendon-bone interface problems by strengthening the attachments of those tendons at the strange end range angles they encounter.
Sounds good right?
Mission: At the end of your workout. Place a foot on a box behind you and jump out with your other leg as to create a pretty good hip extension on the trailing leg.
Keeping your front shin vertical, drop into a big lunge placing as much weight as you can on the back foot while keeping your belly firm and your back straight.
Hold until you simple cannot. Then switch.
Then repeat the cycle two more times.
It works. It's sucky, but so is your end range.
at 8:00 AM