Thursday, December 10, 2009
Loading and Tensioning Part 1
There are a few "rules" of the body that may be applied across multiple applications and body systems. One of these rules is; tissues that are moved into a loaded or biased position first, experience increased relative tension, load, or positional significance throughout the subsequent remaining movement. This is a fancy way of saying that your body's soft tissues (muscles, tendons, joint capsules, etc) undergo tensioning in the order in which they were first loaded.
For example, imagine stretching your hamstrings while laying on your back (we are really just mobilizing hip flexion because it would be impossible to "just" stretch the hamstrings in isolation). If you begin to lift your leg up to your chest with a straight knee, you will "feel" the stretch behind the knee more than you will in the belly of the hamstring. The converse is also true. If you bring your leg up toward you chest in hip flexion (with a bent knee) and once you run out of slack THEN try to straighten you knee, you will feel the tension biased more toward your butt (toward the tissues that were stretched first).
Soft tissue tension or load ordering plays a significant roll in your athletic development whether you know it or not, and it extends far beyond simply stretching your hammies. For example, good technique in the bench press dictates that you break at the elbows first and not at the shoulders on the negative or lowering portion of the lift. Not only does this good technique cue allow for more weight to be lifted, but it also vitally protect the shoulders from "crappy bench press" positioning. But, if you examine this technique in terms of tissue load ordering, you are able to see that shoulder soft tissue loading is delayed (ordered later than triceps) until the decent of the bar dictates that the shoulder move significantly to accommodate the movement. Delayed shoulder soft tissue loading radically decreases the stresses put on the shoulders at peak movement compression. Don't believe me? Go ahead and load up your shoulders before your triceps and see what happens (no don't unless you LIKE shoulder surgery).
So, as you can see, loading tissues in the order you want to stress them affects many of the movements and maintenance strategies we take for granted.
How might this principle affect your deadlift max? Stay tuned.
Coach-hit-the-tequila-before-the-beer-star (liquor before beer--never fear, obeys the ordering law too)
at 6:59 AM