Monday, December 17, 2012

Rotational Sequencing and Power - Part 1

We watch many different athletes, sports, and activities and don't always realized the connections many of these have to each other. Take a look at these athletes and see what they have in common.

Not only do these athletes make these movements look so smooth and effortless, but their movements are very similar despite the major differences in their sport. 

So what is it do they have in common?

Rotation!  Rotational movements occur in just about every sport we play.  Except for just plane old linear movements like sprinting or jogging, every other sport we participate in requires a great deal of roational sequencing and power. 

Say you're playing football, it's 3rd and 3, late in the 4th quarter and you're on defense.  The offense runs an outside zone play and you take an angle to cut off the running back at the 1st down marker. 

You collison the running back with your head in behind of him (come one, get your head in front!), just shy of the 1st down marker.  He has momentum and so do you, but who's gonna win?  Well it comes down to a number of things, but a big one being your rotational strength and power. 

Who's gonna win this battle!?
The one with more rotational power! 

See when you collide, the running backs momentum creates a high force in the transverse plane of your body.  You must counter this force with high rotational force opposite of where he is going. 

Unless you have adequate rotational strength and power, the offense will move the sticks and win the game.  But if your training regime exposes you to proper rotational training, you'll make the tackle, save the day, and get asked out by the best looking girl in school!

So to make sure you get asked out my the hottest girl in school, you need to make sure you get to working on your rotational power.  I mean it's been studied that if you have lots of roational strength, you get asked out by better looking's science. 

What is Rotational Movement

Rotational movements take place in the transverse plane.  The transverse plane involves movements around a fixed axis.  For most movements this fixed axis is our spine, and we rotate and move around the spine to create a rotational force. 

Rotational movements involve a specific series of movements and motions that allow us to transfer the highest amount of forces.  This proper sequencing is very critical in high performance. 

In fact a study was done by the Titleist Performance Institute showed that the biggest difference between professional golfers from amateur golfers was their ability to develop roational speed and proper sequencing. 

The development of higher rotational speeds is a pretty obvious difference as higher rotational speeds = further distance on shot.  This is would be similar to the main difference between NFL receivers and non-NFL receivers is speed. 

But the sequencing is a little surprising.  The professional golfer showed a smooth, efficient sequence from muscle group to group throughout their swing, while the amateurs showed a sloppy, incorrect pattern of sequencing. 

Many would think that the rotational sequence of hitting a golf ball would pretty consistant among all people, but that's not the case.  Just like many other techniques, correct rotation patterns needs to be taught and learned. Rotational sequencing is an important skill to be learned and is essential for increasing ones rotational speed and power. 

How Rotational Movement Works

Thomas Meyer's book Anatomy Trains has been a huge influence in the development of myofascial understanding and training.  It is a must for anybody studying kinesiology.  In it Thomas shows how the body is intertwined with connective tissues, and these tissues cross over the two halves of the body to create a crossed connection, very useful for rotational movements. 

As you can see from the picture below your myofascial lines cross over the body to create significant connections from opposite sides of the body.  Just one of the many outcomes from these findings is many times problems in a shoulder are caused or could be improved by focusing on the opposite hip or ankle.

Not only that, but we something called Muscle Slings, that also cross over the body.  Jason Glass is in the forefront of rotational biomechanics and training.  He has discussed how we have posterior and anterior muscle slings. 

The posterior sling run from the lats (and really starts up at the posterior shoulder) - thoracolumbar fascia - glutes

The anterior sling run from the external obliques - internal obliques - adductor complex. 

Muscle slings play a key role in developing and transfering rotational forces.  They help to load and unwind forces and because of their design and attachment points, they are perfect for rotational movements.
           Anterior Muscle Sling                                                         Posterior Muscle Sling
These slings are also responsible for specific actions and movements during rotational exercises.  Here they can be seen 
The Anterior Sling - Flexion and Rotation
The Posterior Sling - Extension and Rotation 
To go along with this, each sling as a particular role in loading and unwinding forces.  The majority of loading falls upon the extension patterns, so the posterior sling.  The majority of unwinding falls upon the flexion patterns, so the anterior sling. 
Picture a golf swing.  The backswing is the loading portion, and the posterior muscle sling loads up the body for the downswing.  Then during the downswing, the anterior sling takes over and unwinds the force built up by the posterior sling to bring the club through the ball.

Not only that, these slings are also involved in decelerating rotational movements.  So when you're slowing down and stopping say a pitch, swing, or discus throw, your muscle slings will work to decelerate these motions safely.
Now that you know what goes into rotational movements, we also need to know a proper progression on how to create this rotation and the requirements/skills athletes need before starting an intense rotational program. 

In the next part of this series we will go into the stability and mobility requirements/progressions needed to safely and effectively perform high speed and high load rotational movements.  Until then Go Get 'Em!

Like, Dislike, Agree, Disagree, WORLD CHANGING, or a big turd; whatever you feel, leave a comment below and let me know!

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