Strengthening Ligaments and Balancing Forces to Prevent Injury.

Powerlifting is not simply a sport of muscle strength and size. It is a sport of structural engineering, and you’re growing your own materials. As you load your tissues (running, weightlifting, sitting, etc.) signals are being sent to your cells about how much weight needs to be supported and how to activate muscles in order to stabilize for the demands of the load. This is called ‘mechanotransduction’; the process through which cells communicate by turning mechanical energy into electrical signals. When we look at materials (human tissue or other physical structures), transition points are the weakest. In the human body, these are your joints, muscle-tendon junctions, tendon-bone junctions,ligament-bone junctions, etc.. Coordinated and balanced forces across a transition point prevent excessive tissue damage that can lead to injury.

2 Strategies to Prevent Tissue Overload

1. Progressive and Structured Loading

It is important to progressively find loads that challenge your strength. This signals your tissues (bones, muscles, ligaments, fascia, etc.), to grow stronger and your nervous system to become more efficient (improved coordination).

However, this strength comes with the breaking down of tissues in the short term. There is a fine line between healthy breakdown and injury that must balanced.

This is the role of program periodization and nutrition. You want to ensure the program you are following breaks down and builds up tissues at an appropriate rate.

2. Balanced and Coordinated Movement

Imbalances in the body are very common and are constantly shifting and changing.

We often think of the imbalances we can see (shoulder rotation, hip shifting, etc.) these can be found using systems like the SFMA and FRA. However, we also must consider imbalances we can’t see.

Corticospinal control of muscle may result in altered control of muscle recruitment and the consequent tendon load (1). In other words, how your brain tells your muscles what to do is vitally important to the health of your tissues.

What Imbalances Can Contribute to Elbow Pain?

  1. Serratus Anterior
  2. Pronator & Supinator Muscles
  3. Grip Strength Distribution
  4. Pectoralis Minor

References:

1. Rio, E., Kidgell, D., Moseley, G. L., Gaida, J., Docking, S., Purdam, C., & Cook, J. (2016). Tendon neuroplastic training: changing the way we think about tendon rehabilitation: a narrative review. Br J Sports Med, 50(4), 209-215.


2. Frost, Harold M. “Wolff’s Law and bone’s structural adaptations to mechanical usage: an overview for clinicians.” The Angle Orthodontist 64.3 (1994): 175-188.

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