December 22, 2011

    Where is your Center of Pressure?

    CoP = Center of Pressure

    It is easy to spot the veteran athletes around Sparta, the professionals who have made human movement their life’s work. It’s not how they look, bigger or leaner, but rather how they set up movements, particularly their feet. They are just more aware of their set-up, or the center of pressure, which is the point of application for their ground reaction force (GRF). Where you put this pressure will not only dictate your performance, but characterize your injury risks as well.

    An October 2011 study out of Brazil compared subjects with anterior knee pain (patellar tendonosis, chondromalacia, etc.) versus participants with no pain. The difference was that the knee pain group displayed a greater range in their center of pressure, meaning they shifted their point of GRF application during movement. This group also produced a smaller magnitude of GRF, so less force in their movement. More inconsistent and weaker is not a great combination for athletes.

    We see this observations in our Force Plate scans (see Sparta Point 8/3/11). Athletes with a history of knee pain will shift to their toes early as they jump upwards. This scoop limits their time of force application (DRIVE) because they must leave the ground sooner than if they kept the pressure further back. These same mechanics will also be seen in shorter stride length in their sprints (see Sparta Point 1/6/10) and less ground covered in lateral movements such as agility. Another example is how most baseball pitchers find it critical to maintain that heel pressure against the rubber, not the toe which drags along for the ride.

    We correct poor Center of Pressure by helping the athlete by correlating their awareness with performance. Showing longer and higher jumps when the focus remains on the point of GRF application. We also limit the variety of movements so these athletes get the opportunity to be consistent, repeating the same movements over and over again to fine tune that awareness on their center of pressure.

    So on every movement, regardless of the direction or sport, load through that “sweet spot” of the arch in your foot, but also focusing on driving through that same spot, as you’ll get to your toes eventually.

    if you hear “be on your toes”, remember it refers to your mind and not your body.

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