Strength is in your BRAIN
This is a quote that was posted on Facebook, and I wanted to share it here.
There is a lot of talk in the running world about the importance of strength training for increasing performance and injury prevention. I agree with the current research that explosive and heavy resistance training increases stiffness within the muscle-tendon system resulting in increases in running economy, but running economy is measuring steady state oxygen uptake (VO˙ 2). Running economy is more a measure of physiology (performance measure) than pure mechanical efficiency. It is not looking at how the athlete gets from point A to B. General strength and the ability to generate force is extremely important, but only if produced in a coordinated and timely fashion to produce the desired outcome of the individual athlete. Most athletes are not structurally ready to handle explosive and/or heavy resistance training. Running with 2.5x body weight while on one leg, over time and distance at a given pace is hard enough. Data can show increases in power, reduction in contact times, increases in muscular stiffness, and even reductions in right/left asymmetries, but it doesn’t automatically preclude the athlete from injuries. Quantitative data is only useful if it helps improve the athletes “Running Resiliency”.
I believe it is important that runners understand MUSCLES are STUPID. Muscles need the brain to consciously and unconsciously tell them what to do, and at what time to do it in, in order to produce the muscular patterns that are appropriate for the desired task. I am not going to give the muscle, in isolation, that much credit and responsibility to automatically pull to body into the correct position when running. The brain needs to intrinsically understanding the goal of the desired movement, and then needs to organize a movement plan that will be sent to the musculoskeletal system in order to produce the desired task (running). This requires skill, are you training skill or just strength without purpose?
I truly Believe runners can run with fewer injuries. I Believe we are uniquely design to move/run, but culturally have devolved and are structurally less skillful. I Believe we have complete control over our bodies and movement, and thus ultimately the incidence rate of our injuries. Are you training better movement by training your brain to express more efficient and optimal movement patterns? Don’t get me wrong this can and needs to happen in conjunction with a specific plyometric and heavy resistance strength training program, but you better be in the right place at the right time when performing these exercises. Open for discussion. Please share and discuss!
Stephen Scott- Professor in Neuroscience, Queens University
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