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September 18, 2013
Extreme Explosiveness in Athletes; Driving a Ferrari Hurts without Brakes

“With great power, comes great responsibility” Voltaire (or more recently, the advice to Spider Man)

Athletes love to be explosive; probably a joy that lead them to sports in the first place. This choice is even more common if you are more successful as an athlete, generally gauged as more powerful. After all, if you have a fast car, a Ferrari, why not drive it fast as much as possible?

The answer is that like a Ferrari, there are consequences for always driving fast. In the case of a high end sports car, it has to be serviced often to ensure optimal functioning in the high demands placed upon the system. With athletes, the pursuit of sport and training as pure explosiveness due to enjoyment must also eventually come to an end, whether it is a long season, age, or the accumulation of injuries.

If you are a Ferrari or coach some, you also represent the biggest injury risk, because the more force or speed you create, the more absorption is required. Thankfully, a Sparta signature allows us to know when to work on strengths and when to work on weaknesses, specifically when to drive fast and when to get serviced.

Extreme Explode Signature Defined

Athletes with the extreme explode Sparta signature rely on the stretch shortening cycle very well, meaning they use an immediately preceding movement to enhance performance. While the research is not completely clear, the likely mechanism is similar to a spring or slingshot. These athletes quickly load up their springs (tendons), which are exceptional at storing this slight preload as energy. The result is a recoil of the tendon like a slingshot that produces superior force with minimal energy expenditure (muscular contraction); resulting in a more efficient movement.

Unlike extreme load athletes they tend to be wiry mesomorphs, exceling in explosive tests that require your body weight to be moved (relative strength). Such success only fuels their desire to perform more of these exercises such as sprinting, quick foot drills on the speed ladder, or even pullups. However, changing direction becomes difficult as it requires the mobility and strength to absorb and prolong the force created, much like brakes on the car.

The extreme explode signature is defined by a significantly higher variable of explode; the average concentric peak force. In this case, the maximum force production is just higher than your ability to absorb (LOAD) or prolong (DRIVE). The scan can be challenging with this group because they will have the highest vertical jump height, but the goal is not jump height, rather a more efficient, sports specific signature!

Why you Need Brakes?

Well, if you are or know an Extreme Explode athlete then it can be hard to address needs until it is too late, especially because the majority of issues we have correlated are tendinopathies. These athletes cannot absorb their landings due to a lack of sufficient eccentric strength (LOAD). Physical therapists have known this for years, corroborated by research that shows eccentric, or lengthening, contractions to be exceptional in tendinopathy rehabilitation.

Like all extreme movement signatures, you have two low variables though, and a lower DRIVE is not something to be ignored either. Lower body soft tissue injuries are associated with this inability to prolong force production, generally linked to pelvic positioning that shortens the anterior hip musculature (anterior pelvic tilt). Which muscles are at risk? Well, that depends on the angle, moving and pulling in different directions will stress distinct muscles. The take home point is that low DRIVE is a muscle strain risk.

Anterior Pelvic Tilt and Extreme Explode

The 3rd risk is just overuse. If you constantly move by explosiveness, particularly bracing of your trunk, you become very trunk oriented. Specifically, your erector muscles are dominant and you adopt an over extended posture, shown in the adjacent pictured athletes, which creates excessive stress on the vertebrae of your back.

Arriving at Extreme Explosiveness

We have hammered this point already, but I will say it again. Athletes become extreme explode by doing what they love and little of what they don’t. These athletes will crush chin ups and quickness drills, particularly focusing on field and court drills to hide behind the blanket of being ‘sports-specific’. Extreme explodes will avoid accuracy or longer, qualitative exercises that require more time under tension.

Athletes that choose skill positions that jump and run longer distances are particular prone here, basketball players and Australian Rules Football are the best examples. Because of the larger volumes of jumping and jogging (short stretch shortening cycles), they naturally gather a larger stimulus of Explode.

Unfortunately, the volumes and desire to be “fresh” prevents such sports from emphasize lower body strength exercises, as soreness is a deterrent. The other focus should be to avoid heaping more upper body involvement and quick movements that can add to the daily stimulus of sport. Basically just try to remember to train and use your legs!

3 keys to Drive your Ferraris

  1. Extreme explode athletes have great anticipation/bracing/feed forward
  2. This group has the greatest injury risk due the highest peak force, especially musculotendinous
  3. Injury can be avoided by lower body strength, emphasizing full range of motion and eccentric contraction to improve absorption
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September 18, 2013
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