Improving Movement: Position vs. Pressure
By Eric Cressey on July 23, 2022 at 6:47 am
About 15 years ago, I attended a two-day course with Dr. William Brady, a respected chiropractor and manual therapist in the Boston area. During the event, he said:
“Biomechanics is a combination of physics and biology. Put another way, it is the study of loads applied to human tissue.”
It was the most succinct and comprehensive definition of biomechanics I had ever heard, so I frantically jotted it down in my notes—and to this day I keep it in the back of my mind every time I evaluate a movement.
Evaluation is very important. However, they are always limited in their scope, especially when an assessment is quickly scaled to “screen”.
Just because someone has good passive range of motion at the table doesn’t mean they’ll be able to actively pick up that ROM or demonstrate it in high-speed weight-bearing athletic movements with high power.
Also, just because they look good at high speeds with high power doesn’t mean there isn’t an element of pressure in the system that we can’t perceive.
And finally, this stress can be highly variable based on a variety of factors, both intrinsic (eg, accumulated fatigue, growth rate) and extrinsic (eg, environmental conditions, terrain).
Tons of athletes can move into positions like this, but how many can do it safely – and repeatedly?
When I talk to athletes and review video, I always make sure I discuss both positions And Pressure is part of the range-of-motion discussion, but ground reaction forces and how we create stiffness through airflow/intra-abdominal pressure, neural recruitment, and the fascial system cannot be overlooked.
That’s why the industry-wide trend toward more comprehensive data collection is invaluable. We’ve always done our classic orthopedic posture and ROM tests, usually combined with low-performance dynamometer strength measurements and some provocation tests to rule out bad ones. Now, though, we’ve got things like force plates to see how we interact with the ground. And we got it ProteusThat’s what I call a “rotating force plate” so we can determine how those ground reaction forces eventually act up the chain.
We have many other tools to assess body composition, sleep quality, heart rate, fatigue status, workload and more. So, it’s a very exciting time – but only If we realize that both position and stress are important.
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