True performance = [The biomechanics of improved mobility (Greater Range of motion & control)] X [Strength/Power (Force able to be applied)]
Equations truly are a beautiful thing. They represent the most simple way to describe a phenomenon with a high level of accuracy.
The True Performance equation
There are a number of factors that go into optimal athletic performance. The most significant of those factors is coordination (or the control portion of the equation above). This is such a big factor, as it’s commonly agreed that the human body has over 600 muscles (some say differently). Each one of these ‘muscles’ has a large number of ways in which it can move in order to control our joints. Because the human body is simply one connected system, with each movement we perform, there is the need to control each & every one of these muscles in order to get the desired effect. Thus, the most difficult part about achieving a coordinated feat of athletic prowess is coordinating all of the moving parts together in a fluid motion.
Take a look at the video below to see this point in action (producing a not so desirable result):
Movement, It’s Complicated
A golf swing is something that looks so simple when done well, yet there is so much going on within our brains in order to compute what we are trying to do. Our body has to be able to deal with all of the factors that the environment is giving us, as well as coordinate & stabilise itself to be able to manipulate the external object (golf ball).
This is the complexity of human movement. It is commonly referred to as ‘degrees of freedom’. In other words the number of different ways the body could move to achieve a given task. In most cases, there is only a very small number of ways it ‘should’ move in order to best achieve a given task.
The prevailing theory behind how our brain deals with the Degrees of Freedom problem is referred to as Dynamic systems theory. This gives us a fascinating insight into what is happening under the hood when we see a skilled performance
Dynamic Systems Theory, looking under the hood
This video represents the cutting edge of understanding human movement, giving us a unique insight into the importance of optimising the body’s mobility for improved performance. See the key takeaways below:
Train your joints to do the movement: By training the individual articulation in isolation (i.e. working on your glenohumeral joint, instead of ‘the shoulder’), we can ensure that each joint has the optimal amount of Degrees of Freedom to perform the task we are asking it to do.
Software VS Hardware: A powerful analogy to help us understand how movement actually occurs. Most people try to improve the software their brain is running, without first fixing the hardware.
- To improve the software, first fix the hardware: Imagine if you tried to run the latest Photoshop on a computer from the early 2000’s. It simply wouldn’t be able to keep up. Yet this is what people do all the time in fitness. They see an elite performer doing an amazing feat of human performance and try to emulate it, without first considering their hardware.
- Where the analogy fails: If we think of our brains like a computer, we could be fooled into thinking that movements are stored as software ‘programs’. What actually occurs is that each and every time we move, our brain factors all of the information available and makes the best possible decision for the desired outcome.
DIfferent every time: This means the sequencing is completely different each time we perform a movement. No Movement is ever the same.
Skill = dealing with variability: All a skilled performance becomes is the bodies ability to deal with variability in order to achieve a goal. The more skilled, the more variability in the movement.
Mobility = Hardware: The more degrees of Freedom (i.e. greater range of motion) we can have the better, as it gives us more options.
Don’t fight reality: Because the brain determines the movement based on all of the information it gets (which can come from receptors in the joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons and just about anywhere else inside the body), if we try to do that movement without the appropriate hardware (i.e. we lack the mobility), we are giving our brain the wrong information to perform as we desire!
- Uncoordinated often just means immobile: As we talked about above, the wrong information coming from inside of the body will completely scramble to software program your brain is trying to run. It would be like trying to run Windows 10 on the old laptop you had back in high school: frustration awaiting at every corner.
Skill = control: If you can control a joint through a Range of motion, then your hardware is on point to run the skilled software you desire!
Solution: If you want to be a badass, first assess then increase the hardware (The right way).
- The right way: Most people lack the understanding of how to actually create true mobility!
Don’t get a new engine, fix the Chassis instead!
In summary of what we saw above: The only option we have to maximise our chance of performing (& looking) at our best is to optimise the individual parts themselves!
When we do this, we create the hardware we need to be able to achieve the desired goal (skilled performance & optimal movement) in the safest, most effective way possible 🙂
How is your hardware at the moment?
Let us know below!