We all know that there are significant benefits of performing plyometric exercises. Increases in speed strength, explosive strength, reactive ability, muslce stiffness, on the field performance to name a few. In the past it has been said that one must improve their squat numbers to 1.5x body weight before engaging in plyometric exercises.
More recently strength coach Jay Schroeder has flipped this equation upside down by insisting that you must be able to absorb force before you can create force. Coach Schroeder uses a variety of plyometric exercises to teach the body how to absorb force. Thusly it appears that he thinks that one should engage in plyometric exercise before moving into force production (DE and ME weifhtlifting)
Now to hop around. Don’t worry I will circle back by the end of the post so that this makes sense.
Recently I was reading an issue of Men’s Health (I know, everyones resource for cutting edge information). Well what struck me about this issue and prompted me to plop down my $5 for a copy was an article titled something like “Everything you know about your muscles is wrong”. Surely I am not wrong. Am I?
Well the premise of the article is simple. Your muscles are inclosed in sheaths of connective tissue (myofascia). It was previously thought that these sheaths just connected the muscles together. Research in the past few years has lead to a discovery that these sheaths contain neural organs and nerves. This has lead to the concept that maybe the stretching and releasing of elastic tension in the sheaths is a major controller in how we move. Perhaps these sheaths act not just as passive movers but primary movers. The authors also note that when the myofasica tightens up that knots can form and proper movement patterns are impaired. These movement impairments can be eliminates with finding the source of the impairment (it’s not always where the pain is) and then breaking it up through massage or various movement patterns. In the article they mantion a simple leg circle drill that increases range of motion in the hamstring. This kind of reminded me of Z-Health drills (not enough time to talk about this)
Anyone who knows about the works of Wannagetfast and inno-sport, and even Schroeder, knows that they place a heavy emphasis on movement efficiency. For example in running, movement efficiency is associated with running economy where the runners learn to rely more heavily on the elastic contributions of connective tissue. If trained properly this tissue can absorb and release a tone of energy which translated to a faster, more explosive athlete. So how do we develop this ability, or even improve on our own natural myofascia?
Perhaps the answer lies in LDISOS or Extreme Isometrics. Here is my thinking…
The holds are done in the stretch position. This stretch should break up any myfascial knots allowing for free, unrestricted active ranges of motion. Holding the stretch not onnly breaks up the knots BUT also serves as a teaching mechanism. Since the stretch position is held vor a pretty long time (5 minutes is far longer than most static stretches are held for) and the myofascia has neural receptors it can communicate to the CNS that this myofascial neural length is OK, thus preventing the buildup of knots and scar tissue. In addition since the holds are active, there is constant communication with the CNS.
In addition to alleviating compensation patterns there is another potential benefit. That being the build up of MORE myofascia. Research has shown that connective tissue synthesis occurs when lactic acid levels are the highest. Well in a LDISO blood flow is restricted for a very extended period of time. Without oxygen the muscles rely on anaerobic metabolism with which lactic acid build up is a by product. There is far more LA build up during LDISOS that what is attained normally thoguh weight training because blood flow is restricted. This sends a powerful signal to the body to build more connective tissue. And since the tissue is being stretched the odds are the new tissue will be void of knots, scar tissue, and any other imparments.
All of this extra myofascia is akin to placing a giant spring inside of your muscles. Unfortunately this tissue, when built, tends to be quite non-elastic. So how can we take this new development and make it more elastic? How can we teach it to efficiently absorb and release energy?
See, in Schroeders system athletes begin with LDISOS before they move into plyos. They must hold for 5 minutes for 40 consecutive sessions. This may be the ammount of tome Jay has deemed necessary to rid the body of compensation patterns and stimulate the development of enough myofascia to commence training. Of course inelastic tissue is more prone to inury so You would prime the tissue with reactive work to teach the tissue to become more elastic. Once this is done (fixed compensation, development of adequate connective tissue, trained the tissue to absorb and release energy) the athlete begins weight training to put some horsepower in their muscles so that they can use the new springs even more effectively.
Now that I have circled back, the article in the magazine went into this old kettlebell stuff and some of Pavel’s teachings which, while interesting, are far from cutting edge now days.
Hopefully I have stimulated some braincells in you. If yu are interested in football weight training, basketball weight training, or plyometric workouts, the addition of LDISOS may be benefit your program.
Until next time,