“Winning is about managing AVAILABILITY and ADAPTABILITY.” #performancedoc
To win we need athletes that are available. To #1 goal is to be there. When an athlete is missing he is not practicing and not getting better. When he is not there he cannot compete and win. The best way to stay injury free is to not train. ADAPTABILITY is just as important. An athlete needs to be in the best position to perform and get better every time (s)he is there. A good example of this almost daoistic balance of yin and yang is the rehabilitation process and the concept of quasi-isometrics.
Muscle and (especially) tendon tissue has viscoelastic properties. That means that under fast loading it acts as a solid, and under slow loading it acts as a liquid. Just like water. It is easy to enter the water from a ladder, but painful to enter the water a high speeds with a jump from 10m.Muscle and (especially) tendon tissue has viscoelastic properties. That means that under fast loading it acts as a solid, and under slow loading it acts as a liquid. Just like water. Click To Tweet
This also means that fast vs. slow loading of tissues leads to different adaptations. Solely loading the muscle-tendon complex fast will lead to more “cross-bridge” development. This will teach the tissue to act as a solid. It takes away pliability and injury resistance, but can improve performance. On the other end of the spectrum slow loading leads to break up of “cross-bridges” and teaches the tissue to act as a liquid. This is great for injury prevention (“break up of scar tissue/adhesions”), but can sacrifice performance. When an athlete returns from injury the first priority is the break up of cross-bridges to enhance injury resilience with a slow progression to performance. Practically, this means during Return to Game we need to progress from slow-light loading to slow-heavy loading to fast-heavy loading to fast(er)-light loading.
Low load quasi-isometrics therefore are an important part of early phase Return to Game. Slowly eccentrically lowering oneself over a period of 30-60 seconds is an important stimulus to break up cross-bridges, teaching the tissue to act as a liquid, and making the athlete more resilient to (re)injury. Progress to slow-heavy strength training and transition into low load-faster speed work during late phase rehab to strike the balance between AVAILABILITY and ADAPTABILITY.
May the FLOW be with you!
Gerrit Keferstein is a Medical Doctor specialised in Performance & Functional Medicine. He is most known for his work on the optimisation of recovery and adaptation in elite athletes.