Whenever you jump or make a change of direction move, there’s some sort of countermovement that needs to take place prior to the change in force.
How well you can control the countermovement will actually give you a chance to load your tissues and have an elastic recoil to exert force.
The more force you have to slow down, the better you need to absorb it in order to switch gears. That’s why some athletes can effortlessly make a cut and go, leaving the competition in the dust vs looking like their like is stuck in mud. They can absorb forces better, and use that energy to propel themselves forward.
Our tissues are like elastic bands, and the stiffer they are, the less they can stretch and give you a spring-like action. This is where learning how to absorb loads can help you become more explosive. You can utilize the stretch-reflex in the body and train it to be more efficient.
Below is a simple version of a quick catch to absorb force in a split squat. We are simply just letting gravity take over and catching at the bottom to come at a dead stop, holding there for a second before resetting.
As you get better with controlling movements like shown above, you can utilize a depth drop (shown below) to increase the magnitude of force that needs to be slowed down.
Exercises like these can be utilized as a tool in the beginning of a training program to help gain proficiency in control, force absorption, and build tendon health.
The goal is to be better at absorbing loads in a progressive manner and then shifting the focus to producing force.
These are just a few ways you can easily implement force absorption in your workouts, but the concepts can be manipulated for many different exercises.
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Dr. Peter Dionisopoulos is the owner and founder of Dynamic Performance & Rehab. He has worked with many high-level athletes and military personnel, but his true passion is to help active adults maintain their lifestyle by providing information and potential solutions to their aches and pains so they can continue with the activities they love.