To briefly recap, we know the first part of improving power in performance; we know we need to absorb loads first.
This allows us to stretch our tissues just enough so they can store energy and recoil like an elastic band.
If the tissues are too stiff, then we can’t create a countermovement to reverse gears and propel as well as we would like. It could also pose a risk for injury as we will not be able to decelerate, which is a common cause for tendon injuries.
The other half was producing the actual force so we can accelerate the recoil effect from our absorption phase.
This stiffens the tissues so we can use a greater propulsive action and move through a resistance much faster.
Again, being too stiff would lessen our ability to absorb and store more energy to use for propulsion. That is why we don’t want to constantly train at maximal loads since it will be too slow and create an excessive amount of stiffness over time.
So what about athletics?
You need to be able to repeat efforts over a period of time, without having a decreased response.
That is where we combine both of these methods so you can train the qualities to maximize performance, reduce risk of injury, and sustain a longer output.
To do this, you want to minimize the amount of time spent on the ground or in the absorption phase.
This should not be mistaken to the fact that you are no longer absorbing loads. It simply means we need to absorb quicker, but still efficiently so we can greater a faster recoil. If you stay at the bottom of a movement too long, the elastic band will eventually lose its springiness, like a worn out mattress.
After landing, we need to reverse gears ASAP, which is why we focused on the force production movements from dead stops in the last post.
A great start would be a depth drop to a jump as it has a greater rate of magnitude that needs to be switched in the opposite direction as fast as possible.
Doing moves like pogo jumps are a great way to increase the repeated recoil action in the ankle and foot complex, allowing you stiffen at the right times and be prepared for repeated ground contact times.
Usually 10-20 jumps (staying on the ground as little as possible) are sufficient enough with a 30-60s rest for a few repeated sets.
You can also progress to repeated jumps over time with alternating split squat jumps or even band assisted jumps as they will help reduce the time on the ground. Ideally you would lessen the band resistance and go to no assistance as you improve speed off the ground.
Now you can start to utilize both methods for performance and improve overall tendon and tissue health as you learn to move on both ends of the power spectrum.
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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.