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The art of sport

E = M.C 2

Saul Yudelowitz Bsc (Hons)

As a Sports Biomechanic I have treated many athletes from many different disciplines for a verity orthopedic problems and sports performance enhancement. Although they come from different disciplines there are a few common denominators that they all have,

  • Demands on the athlete are always increasing
  • The need to recover quicker from injury
  • The importance of recovery during competition and
  • Maintaining peak functionality for the duration of the competition

The main issue here is that athletes train like bodybuilders, training for muscle size and not power! All sport is a measurement of power; we all here the questions, how fast can you do 100 meters in, how many pounds can you produce per square inch with a punch etc. The easiest way to explain this is by the scientific formula E = M.C2 . To accelerate a limb(s) the body uses the fast twitch muscles, all other muscle is dead weight, and from this one should understand that training for power is the key to optimizing the above four points. In rugby the engaging of a scrum is a great example of power application. There are a few points that need to be brought to the fore for athletes, you see unlike bodybuilders who go up on stage and only have to spasm their muscles athletes need to perform on the sports field. For sports performance and the ability to adapt to the ever increasing demands of the professional game the following points are absolutely essential.

  1. Training to maximum effort all year round will result in overtraining, injuries that reoccur and eventually long term neural fatigue. This becomes a serious problem (neural fatigue) as it could result in a non reversible condition.

Athletes must periodize their training so that they can build up to the final game through the duration of the tournament. The best teams who win world cup championships are the teams that peak on the day of the final game! Periodizing must take into account twelve months prior to the final game. Dotting the Iís and crossing the Tís is required.

  1. Most athletes have a poor understanding of the hormonal system; athletes at the top of their game can produce anabolic hormones for 45 minutes. Olympic athletes can usually get to 49 minutes. Exercise stimulates the sympathetic nervous system which is catabolic, if an athlete needs to recover; the parasympathetic nervous system is required for this anabolic purpose. There are many methods for stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system besides rest. It ties in with the time you spend exercising, so if you can lift the heaviest weight with good form for more than five reps you are not training for power! Six sets or more is not a power training routine. If you are not recruiting the fast twitch fibers you are training to be slow and slow athletes are never on the winning team.

  1. Working while an athlete has an injury is going to lead to time laid off from competition; this also results in a suppressed parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system heals and there are many ways to stimulate it, rest being just one method! Most athletes I see are reluctant to discuss the full extent of their injury with their manager due to the commercial value of a contract! Learning how to heal is essential for a long career.
  2. Athletes need to have a better understanding of their body. Training for aesthetics and not functionality will never result in improvements on the sports field. Most athletes believe that they are always training for functionality however if you are one who enjoys the pump of a muscle, you will not improve your power. When a muscle is pumped it is a result of the accumulation of lactic acid, water and blood that have pooled in the muscle to combat the fall in pH. There will be some endurance benefits from this type of training.

Athletes who want to adapt to the ever increasing demands of the game by improving on their performance, peaking at the right time, reducing injury occurrence as well reducing their injury time, need to adhere to the above points. Learning to apply power (accelerate) to a limb(s) relative to your stability is the art of sport; this is how sportsmen make movement looks easy to the layman however when attempted it is difficult to replicate.


All the information on this web site is the opinion of the owner of Health and Performance and the therapists that it represents. They are not designed to diagnose and/or treat any condition. You should always consult with us before applying any information in part or whole.

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