March Motivation: Improving Range of Motion

Four weeks down and another cycle in the books! Looking back, we spent the last four weeks trying to find out exactly how much force our body could produce on five different strength aspects (Press, squat, deadlift, bench, and snatch). Essentially, we took the muscle from a hard working “volume” phase and pushed it to its maximum short burst of power potential phase. This translates to the shortening of our muscle as much as possible over time in order to get the muscle to be as responsive to force production as possible.

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Now, we need to undo the tension/tightness and rebuild them, bigger, stronger, and better. As we begin to break them down again, we must focus a great deal on range of motion (ROM). We need to increase range of motion, by doing so, we increase power output (see photo); so increasing distance (ROM) would thus increase power. Notice, decreasing t(time) also increase power, which we have done for the past month. Now, we rebuild the foundation, and establish balance as we start over with ROM and repetitions.

Thus, we at Humble Beast Strength and Conditioning bring you, eccentric loading! An eccentric contraction is the motion of an active muscle while it is lengthening under load. Eccentric training will involve repetitive eccentric muscle contractions. Think of it as, the opposite of the normal movement, or the “lowering” phase. They are hard, slow, and grueling. Yes, they are really hard if ROM is an issue for you!

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If ROM is an issue with you, Coach Jeff will be joining forces with our magnificent in-house massage therapist, Tamara, to host a SMR (Self-Myofascial Release) workshop specifically aimed to teach you guys how to structure a routine to increase your ROM. This will be held on Saturday, March 10th at 10am in place of the yoga class.

Please continue reading as the following information has been provided by Tamara to help us understand SMR:

Self-myofascial release (SMR) is a technique that allows the individual to release tension in their own muscles and surrounding connective tissues. It is an important part of the exercise recovery process because the hardening of myofascial tissues often occurs following physical stress (such as exercise). In this process, the ground matrix of the connective tissue, which is the liquid gel inside the muscle, loses its viscosity and binds to the surrounding tissue, causing fibrous adhesions to form (also known as a “knot”). SMR allows athletes to perform daily maintenance on their muscles by releasing fibrous adhesions and restoring hydration to the tissue. Some of the most popular tools for self-myofascial release include the lacrosse ball and foam roller. 

One of the most commonly asked questions surrounding SMR is whether it should be performed before or after exercise. The answer is that both are beneficial for different reasons. When SMR is performed before training, range of motion increases without compromising performance. Sullivan et al. found that foam rolling the hamstrings before a sit-and-reach test increased range of motion by 4.3% while muscle activation remained the same (2013). When foam rolling is performed after training, delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) has been shown to decrease. A group of athletes that foam rolled after an intense bout of strength training reported significantly decreased perceived muscle soreness for 24, 48 and 72 hours afterwards in comparison to athletes that did not use a foam roller  (Macdonald, Button, Drinkwater &Behm, 2014). By practicing SMR in an informed way, you can get the most benefits from foam rolling before and/or after training.

What can you expect? If you increase your ROM, you will, again according to our force production equation, increase your power output. As discussed in Humble Beginnings, increases the foundation for you to build your peaks (maxes). You will also, greatly decrease risk of injury and you will probably just feel better in your day to day living.  

Over the next three months, if you attend class consistently, you should expect to increase your maxes next max month cycle by 5-15%! Let’s put in the work and get after it!