• Brian LeRiche

Fatigue VS Fatigue Compensation Part I

Fatigue is an expected experience during exercise. Ordinarily, society is taught to not quit and push through the feeling of being tired. While this does have its time and place, it should be cautiously approached with full understanding of the risks vs rewards. “Fatigue compensation” is attained when the brain has reached its fatigue threshold. This is a point in time that leads to disrupted breathing patterns, dysfunctional body mechanics, increased sympathetic tone, and a variety of other adverse side effects. Listed below is part one of how to improve your resistance to fatigue compensation.

“Facilitation promotes Inhibition”

1. Understand Movement:

Truly understanding movement is a complex task that requires a great amount of motor control, sensory awareness, and congruency. Movement can be learned through various techniques, however I suggest introducing manual resistance as the primary movement training tool. Manual resistance is simple, effective, and provides two powerful brain paradigms: Sustainability & Inhibition. Sustainability of muscular tension improves awareness of the concentric, isometric, and eccentric phases of movement. Typically, compensation is seen in the transition phase between the eccentric and concentric periods. However, sustained tension through manual resistance allows the sensation of a smooth, non-compensatory transition. Moreover, sustainability creates facilitation, and facilitation promotes inhibition. The facilitated tone allows proper inhibition of accessory muscles (neck, low back, etc.) through brain adjustments of newly gained stability. Through sustained tone, the brain now has the support it needs without relying on the once desired accessory muscles.

Manual resistance can be applied to virtually any exercise. Some of the most common are hip clams (clam shells), shoulder internal/external rotation, ankle flexion/dorsi-flexion, and overlooked pushing/pulling exercises. During the exercise, the coach has the ability to alter tension, when needed, to sustain the appropriate amount of stiffness. As the exercise continues, the client or athlete will begin to fatigue, this is the essential part of manual resistance. Traditionally, when free weights are used, the client or athlete has to compensate to continue the desired movement. Conversely, a slight deviation in manual pressure allows the client or athlete to continue the motion without the need to compensate. It seems simple enough, however, this is critical when movement is being learned and developed. The central nervous system will process this information and transfer it to exercises that are more demanding, difficult, and faster.

A prone hamstring curl is a great beginner manual resisted exercise. Often, people struggle with maintaining a proper position, let alone strength coupled imbalances in the posterior chain. As always, proper position should be established. However, once position is achieved, strength needs to be added to the improved position. The other beneficial element to a prone hamstring curl is the client or athletes restricted visual acuity. They must rely on the sensory and motor system to properly relay neuromuscular information. The coach uses one hand on the back of the ankle to appropriately distribute the required pressure. The client should “push through this pressure” during the concentric phase, sustain pressure during the transition, and control the eccentric phase by “fighting the pressure through a controlled descent.” The second hand is utilized to provide stimulus, if needed, to the sensory system to maintain tension. This neurological component coupled with the working muscular system allows for plasticity and development of movement.

Whether you are working with an elite athlete or a general population client, manual resistance should be an initial thought to develop quality movement. Learning proper movement in the beginning will set the stage for future success. In part II we will look at the effects respiration has on the central nervous system in appropriately controlling our fatigue compensation.

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