Friday, January 21, 2011

So What Does Work?

One can't help reading about all the injuries incurred by professional and collegiate athletes, and wonder if maybe the conditioning exercises they are doing, are not the major cause of these injuries -- while thinking that performing such movements will render them less susceptible to them.

Particularly of note, are the epidemic of injuries to the Achilles tendon, hamstring, and knee -- for which it is usually recommended to hyper extend the notably vulnerable Achilles tendon and overloading it in the mistaken belief that adding further insult to a vulnerability, is the best way to strengthen it.

And secondly, while it is possible to strengthen a muscle/tendon, the net result may be, to predispose oneself to that injury. It should be noted that while one can train to lift formidable loads with the leg biceps (hamstring), in no real world event or application, would it ever be wise or advantageous to do so -- because the body is better suited to do so in many favorable ways of leverage. The real purpose of the hamstring is to retract (bend) the leg, prior to extending it and applying force -- but never as a primary end in itself, except by the design of the exercise equipment -- which should be a major concern in producing unnecessary injuries through this performance and practice.

And then when the leg is straightened, it is with the purpose of transferring that power through a movement of a heel raise -- rather than in the counterproductive movement of an Achilles tendon hyperextension under increasing loads (until finally there is a rupture), which is not only a problem not only of these movements, but the design flaw of virtually all the machines and apparatus -- in that the range of movement extended, is the (hyper)extension rather than the contraction phases -- which usually stops far short of its fullest range.

It's not advantageous to increase the load in extension -- but in the direction of contraction, which as I have pointed out previously, when performed properly, always produces its own greatest resistance to further contraction -- with no further load needed, which in fact, merely decreases the range of movement. That is the natural, intelligent design of human evolution, that no get-rich quick human invention and device can override.

And most seriously, the too common and familiar knee injuries are exacerbated by the movement of the weighted leg extension -- for no practical purpose other than developing the quadriceps for no greater purpose than could be much better achieved with a slight knee bend (dip), onto a rise onto the toes -- that is the universal useful leg movement. That movement can be easily and productively performed with a chair and simulates the breast stroke as the hands placed on the back of the chair, counterbalances the upward movement (thrust) of the legs, with its own downward movement (thrust) against the chair, as sort of a full body pushup -- without weight and resistance on the upper body structures that usually cause people to dislike conventional pushups.

One merely needs to push down, or straighten one's arms, while the leg is simultaneously straightened -- because it is the movement itself that strengthens, and not the resistance preventing such proper movement! -- allowing the body to increase its range in the range in which it develops as well as exhibits that proclivity and strength.

But in most conventional exercises and in the design or machines and equipment, it is precisely the wrong end of the range that is extended -- and overloaded! That will predispose and make injuries nearly a certainly, and an inevitability -- unless one is wise (or lucky) enough to discontinue them before such (en)forced termination to their participation in future conditioning and health maintenance practices because they no longer physically possible -- even when the spirit is still willing.

But there is a better, intelligent way.


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