Tension > relaxation

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

Re: Tension > relaxation

Postby marvin8 on Wed Jul 25, 2018 8:11 pm

Interloper wrote:When people in the internal arts talk about "relaxation," at least in my own experiences, they don't mean the the body is totally flaccid and loose like a noodle. There must be a harmonizing of relaxation and tension in order to maintain a structure and to generate power.

What they do mean, is that certain very specific muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia must be activated or acted upon in such a way that they create a dynamic tension of complementary opposing forces. These particular tissues are not the conventional ones that modern urban humans typically use to make physical movement and do physical work. In using them, the muscles that are typically used in human athleticism and movement are allowed to be completely relaxed -- the deltoids, for example, and the biceps and triceps muscles, other muscles of the upper back and shoulders. That allows the arms and shoulders to move freely and with having to work to generate power themselves. They become conduits for power generated elsewhere in the body. Also, outer muscles of the abdomen and torso can also be relaxed.

The sum of this, is the ability to move fluidly and without tension... because the tension is "limited" to select areas that one normally would not even be aware of, and the vast majority of the body is thus allowed to be in a relaxed state.

Would you say the activation of muscles, tendons, and fascia in the following excerpt is the same as in the internal arts? If not, how is it different (in your opinion)?

Excerpt from "A New Paradigm in Biomechanics: Fascia, Rotation, and Waves," https://www.just-fly-sports.com/biomech ... ion-waves/:
Kevin Foster on July 16, 2018 wrote:Neuro-fascial System

The role of fascia in movement has always been a highly debated and somewhat mysterious topic. Highly elastic in nature, and heavily integrated into the neural network of movement, the neuro-fascial system helps explain the importance of a proximal to distal activation sequence.

As our connecting piece of anatomy to the ground, our feet play a massive role in the facilitation of tension through the neuro-fascial system. Our feet have an astonishing number of afferent neural connections that reflexively communicate tension up these neuro-fascial pathways. How our foot strikes the ground therefore plays an important role in where the tension goes.


Rotational Dynamics in Arthro- and Osteo-kinematics

At the level of the joint there is no such thing as linear movement. There are muscles that pull on tendons that pull bones in arcs and circles. By understanding this, we can see linear motion as a finely choreographed sequence of arcs and rotation, that when pieced together create a straight line.

When looking at movements pieced together in this way, we can see the importance of rotation in the creation and transfer of energy in movement. An important concept from Adarian Barr’s work is the role of end range of rotational motion in timing and energy transfer.

As an example of this concept, look at how energy gets transferred through the kinetic chain in a baseball or javelin throw: Energy of internal rotation of the right side of the pelvis gets stopped and absorbed by the stiffness of the left hip (think about a bicyclist crashing into a curb and flying over the handle bars to help visualize this example). The linear and angular momentum of the body causes this energy to get transferred up the spine, where end range of thoracic extension and rotation acts as another “curb” that transfers energy to the scapula.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEFfsg8MYbY
Jan Zelezny is the epitome of these motions in action

The end range of scapular retraction and posterior tilt acts as another “curb” that forces gleno-humeral external rotation. When the shoulder hits its end range of external rotation, it acts as a “curb” for the transfer of energy into elbow extension, whose end range acts as a “curb” for gleno-humeral internal rotation and forearm pronation.

There are three key takeaways from this example.

First, as noted above, is that individually these motions all occur in arcs and rotations, but synergistically pull the baseball or javelin in a perfectly straight line.

Second, is that at these “curbs,” the mass of each lever gets progressively smaller, so the conservation of angular momentum plays a massive role in accelerating limbs to high speeds.

The third is that the end ranges of these joints act as a built in “timer” for movement. If you have adequate mobility, and the ability to stay relaxed, each joint will perform its actions when the force gets there.

Timing, Waves, and Elastic Energy

Muscles, tendons, and fascia are all intrinsically elastic. The stretching and contracting of these elastic tissues can be looked at as waves of tension. Remember back in physics class, how all waves followed a sine function when analyzed on a graph? The same concept can apply to stretching and contracting muscles/tendons/fascia.

Building on this concept, when two waves “collide” they can either be constructive or destructive. That is, they can either add together, or cancel each other out.

Whether they add together or cancel out is a function of timing.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BcPdMwHjGxJ/?utm_source=ig_embed

Utilization of Nature’s Potential Energy in Movement

Too often we think of movement as how our body must overcome the forces imposed by Mother Nature. After all, gravity is the enemy of jumping high and lifting heavy.

But all of these concepts just mentioned allow our body to integrate these forces into efficient and powerful movement.

To start, the overall connectedness of our entire body through the neuro-fascial system creates a large “pool” of elastic potential energy to be utilized. How do we tap into this pool?

In order to initiate the stretching of muscles/tendon/fascia, we need to “load” the body from the ground up. This is easy to do in the weight room, where a barbell can be thrown on your back, but where does the “load” come from in natural movement like running and jumping? Gravity and momentum.

This is a concept that Adarian Barr talks about when breaking down asymmetrical movement. One side of the body gives energy, while the other receives energy.

This is why a long last step is crucial for jumping and throwing. It creates more momentum to load the entire elastic system. The lightning fast downward arm swing of the best jumpers utilizes downward momentum to contribute to loading the elastic reflex. The purpose of the “soft step” back foot contact in the javelin throw is to guide the momentum of the center of mass directly into the block leg. The farthest throws come from the best block leg loading.


Image

We also have to consider that the general shape of our body allows for incredibly efficient passive transfer of energy. As mentioned previously, the fact that proximally to distally our levers and limbs decrease in mass allows for incredible acceleration through the conservation of angular momentum.

We know that that hip extension and knee extension are intrinsically linked, but this also integrates into what we know about elasticity, and can even be related to hamstring demands in sprinting.

When the glute extends the femur the angular momentum at the knee joint will naturally cause the knee to extend. In sprinting, the timing of this is such that the knee reaches extension just before foot contact, pre-tensing the hamstring for the elastic stretch at foot contact. When the foot hits the ground, the entire posterior chain gets loaded, and because of the angular momentum at the knee, the hamstring must deal with incredible amounts of eccentric stress.

The foot also needs to be talked about in this section, as its shape provides several key properties that allow for translation of gravity, momentum and ground reaction forces into powerful and efficient movement.

First, is that because the foot is a first class lever, and because of the general shape of the bottom of your foot, which allows it to “roll,” it has an intrinsic forward and upward force vector. This vector can be changed depending on knee angle and hip rotation.

Second, is that the arch of the foot itself is highly elastic, and can provide an extra “spring” in movement for people who aren’t flat-footed. This elasticity from the arch is integrated into the posterior chain just as the Achilles or hamstring is.

Third, as just mentioned in the first point, because of the arch and because of the ability to lift our toes, the foot can utilize the body’s own weight to accelerate by “rolling” from flexion to extension and pronation to supination. The key is that the foot needs to be strong enough to maintain its shape through these movements.

One last piece of the puzzle to tie all of this together is that of timing. Precision in timing is the single biggest key in powerful movement.

As mentioned above, the transfer of energy proximally to distally occurs in waves. This can manifest in the form of a transverse wave up or down your body from joint to joint, or in the form of a longitudinal wave through the elastic elements of your body.

(Transverse and longitudinal are the physics terminology for how different types of waves travel. Transverse would be like wiggling a rope so it looks like a sine wave, while longitudinal would be like if you quickly compressed and retracted a slinky and you’d see the line of compression travel down the coil.)

A transverse wave up or down the body comes from the conservation of angular momentum, just like in a whip. The key to allowing this to occur is to have adequate mobility and relaxation to let the wave passively pass through each joint.

A longitudinal wave of elastic energy comes from loading and unloading muscle/tendon/fascia. Neurofascially facilitated vertical stiffness is a major component of allowing these elastic waves of energy to travel up the body. Without full body connectedness, there is no spring and movement becomes driven by muscle.

The key to true athleticism is in timing of movement so that waves of energy combine, rather than cancel each other out. The single best example I know to visualize this is in the video below of Thomas Rohler throwing the javelin.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bj4k7PvnJ3x/?utm_source=ig_embed
. . . this view of his throw is an amazing display of his energy transfer from his feet to his fingertips.

When his block leg hits (also notice how he directed his CoM straight into his block leg off the back foot contact), you can literally see the ripple of force travel up his leg. That “ripple” is elastic energy traveling up his posterior chain and into his torso.

But what’s more important in why this throw went so far is his timing in creating stretch across the rest of his body exactly at the moment his block leg hits. While the stretch from hip-shoulder separation is still unloading, he creates a stretch across his chest with contralateral arm extension. Then just as the t-spine squares up into the throw (meaning its stretch-shortening cycle is complete, and angular acceleration of upper body is at its highest value), and the chest begins unloading its energy, the block leg hits and the acceleration from the massive wave of elastic energy combines with the acceleration from the rest of the elastic energy to synergistically launch the hand and javelin full speed ahead almost 90 meters.
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Re: Tension > relaxation

Postby Interloper on Wed Jul 25, 2018 9:25 pm

marvin8 wrote:
Interloper wrote:When people in the internal arts talk about "relaxation," at least in my own experiences, they don't mean the the body is totally flaccid and loose like a noodle. There must be a harmonizing of relaxation and tension in order to maintain a structure and to generate power.

What they do mean, is that certain very specific muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia must be activated or acted upon in such a way that they create a dynamic tension of complementary opposing forces. These particular tissues are not the conventional ones that modern urban humans typically use to make physical movement and do physical work. In using them, the muscles that are typically used in human athleticism and movement are allowed to be completely relaxed -- the deltoids, for example, and the biceps and triceps muscles, other muscles of the upper back and shoulders. That allows the arms and shoulders to move freely and without having to work to generate power themselves. They become conduits for power generated elsewhere in the body. Also, outer muscles of the abdomen and torso can also be relaxed.

The sum of this, is the ability to move fluidly and without tension... because the tension is "limited" to select areas that one normally would not even be aware of, and the vast majority of the body is thus allowed to be in a relaxed state.

Would you say the activation of muscles, tendons, and fascia in the following excerpt is the same as in the internal arts? If not, how is it different (in your opinion)?

Excerpt from "A New Paradigm in Biomechanics: Fascia, Rotation, and Waves," https://www.just-fly-sports.com/biomech ... ion-waves/:
Kevin Foster on July 16, 2018 wrote:Neuro-fascial System

The role of fascia in movement has always been a highly debated and somewhat mysterious topic. Highly elastic in nature, and heavily integrated into the neural network of movement, the neuro-fascial system helps explain the importance of a proximal to distal activation sequence.

As our connecting piece of anatomy to the ground, our feet play a massive role in the facilitation of tension through the neuro-fascial system. Our feet have an astonishing number of afferent neural connections that reflexively communicate tension up these neuro-fascial pathways. How our foot strikes the ground therefore plays an important role in where the tension goes.


Rotational Dynamics in Arthro- and Osteo-kinematics

At the level of the joint there is no such thing as linear movement. There are muscles that pull on tendons that pull bones in arcs and circles. By understanding this, we can see linear motion as a finely choreographed sequence of arcs and rotation, that when pieced together create a straight line.

When looking at movements pieced together in this way, we can see the importance of rotation in the creation and transfer of energy in movement. An important concept from Adarian Barr’s work is the role of end range of rotational motion in timing and energy transfer.

As an example of this concept, look at how energy gets transferred through the kinetic chain in a baseball or javelin throw: Energy of internal rotation of the right side of the pelvis gets stopped and absorbed by the stiffness of the left hip (think about a bicyclist crashing into a curb and flying over the handle bars to help visualize this example). The linear and angular momentum of the body causes this energy to get transferred up the spine, where end range of thoracic extension and rotation acts as another “curb” that transfers energy to the scapula.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEFfsg8MYbY
Jan Zelezny is the epitome of these motions in action

The end range of scapular retraction and posterior tilt acts as another “curb” that forces gleno-humeral external rotation. When the shoulder hits its end range of external rotation, it acts as a “curb” for the transfer of energy into elbow extension, whose end range acts as a “curb” for gleno-humeral internal rotation and forearm pronation.

There are three key takeaways from this example.

First, as noted above, is that individually these motions all occur in arcs and rotations, but synergistically pull the baseball or javelin in a perfectly straight line.

Second, is that at these “curbs,” the mass of each lever gets progressively smaller, so the conservation of angular momentum plays a massive role in accelerating limbs to high speeds.

The third is that the end ranges of these joints act as a built in “timer” for movement. If you have adequate mobility, and the ability to stay relaxed, each joint will perform its actions when the force gets there.

Timing, Waves, and Elastic Energy

Muscles, tendons, and fascia are all intrinsically elastic. The stretching and contracting of these elastic tissues can be looked at as waves of tension. Remember back in physics class, how all waves followed a sine function when analyzed on a graph? The same concept can apply to stretching and contracting muscles/tendons/fascia.

Building on this concept, when two waves “collide” they can either be constructive or destructive. That is, they can either add together, or cancel each other out.

Whether they add together or cancel out is a function of timing.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BcPdMwHjGxJ/?utm_source=ig_embed

Utilization of Nature’s Potential Energy in Movement

Too often we think of movement as how our body must overcome the forces imposed by Mother Nature. After all, gravity is the enemy of jumping high and lifting heavy.

But all of these concepts just mentioned allow our body to integrate these forces into efficient and powerful movement.

To start, the overall connectedness of our entire body through the neuro-fascial system creates a large “pool” of elastic potential energy to be utilized. How do we tap into this pool?

In order to initiate the stretching of muscles/tendon/fascia, we need to “load” the body from the ground up. This is easy to do in the weight room, where a barbell can be thrown on your back, but where does the “load” come from in natural movement like running and jumping? Gravity and momentum.

This is a concept that Adarian Barr talks about when breaking down asymmetrical movement. One side of the body gives energy, while the other receives energy.

This is why a long last step is crucial for jumping and throwing. It creates more momentum to load the entire elastic system. The lightning fast downward arm swing of the best jumpers utilizes downward momentum to contribute to loading the elastic reflex. The purpose of the “soft step” back foot contact in the javelin throw is to guide the momentum of the center of mass directly into the block leg. The farthest throws come from the best block leg loading.


Image

We also have to consider that the general shape of our body allows for incredibly efficient passive transfer of energy. As mentioned previously, the fact that proximally to distally our levers and limbs decrease in mass allows for incredible acceleration through the conservation of angular momentum.

We know that that hip extension and knee extension are intrinsically linked, but this also integrates into what we know about elasticity, and can even be related to hamstring demands in sprinting.

When the glute extends the femur the angular momentum at the knee joint will naturally cause the knee to extend. In sprinting, the timing of this is such that the knee reaches extension just before foot contact, pre-tensing the hamstring for the elastic stretch at foot contact. When the foot hits the ground, the entire posterior chain gets loaded, and because of the angular momentum at the knee, the hamstring must deal with incredible amounts of eccentric stress.

The foot also needs to be talked about in this section, as its shape provides several key properties that allow for translation of gravity, momentum and ground reaction forces into powerful and efficient movement.

First, is that because the foot is a first class lever, and because of the general shape of the bottom of your foot, which allows it to “roll,” it has an intrinsic forward and upward force vector. This vector can be changed depending on knee angle and hip rotation.

Second, is that the arch of the foot itself is highly elastic, and can provide an extra “spring” in movement for people who aren’t flat-footed. This elasticity from the arch is integrated into the posterior chain just as the Achilles or hamstring is.

Third, as just mentioned in the first point, because of the arch and because of the ability to lift our toes, the foot can utilize the body’s own weight to accelerate by “rolling” from flexion to extension and pronation to supination. The key is that the foot needs to be strong enough to maintain its shape through these movements.

One last piece of the puzzle to tie all of this together is that of timing. Precision in timing is the single biggest key in powerful movement.

As mentioned above, the transfer of energy proximally to distally occurs in waves. This can manifest in the form of a transverse wave up or down your body from joint to joint, or in the form of a longitudinal wave through the elastic elements of your body.

(Transverse and longitudinal are the physics terminology for how different types of waves travel. Transverse would be like wiggling a rope so it looks like a sine wave, while longitudinal would be like if you quickly compressed and retracted a slinky and you’d see the line of compression travel down the coil.)

A transverse wave up or down the body comes from the conservation of angular momentum, just like in a whip. The key to allowing this to occur is to have adequate mobility and relaxation to let the wave passively pass through each joint.

A longitudinal wave of elastic energy comes from loading and unloading muscle/tendon/fascia. Neurofascially facilitated vertical stiffness is a major component of allowing these elastic waves of energy to travel up the body. Without full body connectedness, there is no spring and movement becomes driven by muscle.

The key to true athleticism is in timing of movement so that waves of energy combine, rather than cancel each other out. The single best example I know to visualize this is in the video below of Thomas Rohler throwing the javelin.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bj4k7PvnJ3x/?utm_source=ig_embed
. . . this view of his throw is an amazing display of his energy transfer from his feet to his fingertips.

When his block leg hits (also notice how he directed his CoM straight into his block leg off the back foot contact), you can literally see the ripple of force travel up his leg. That “ripple” is elastic energy traveling up his posterior chain and into his torso.

But what’s more important in why this throw went so far is his timing in creating stretch across the rest of his body exactly at the moment his block leg hits. While the stretch from hip-shoulder separation is still unloading, he creates a stretch across his chest with contralateral arm extension. Then just as the t-spine squares up into the throw (meaning its stretch-shortening cycle is complete, and angular acceleration of upper body is at its highest value), and the chest begins unloading its energy, the block leg hits and the acceleration from the massive wave of elastic energy combines with the acceleration from the rest of the elastic energy to synergistically launch the hand and javelin full speed ahead almost 90 meters.


I agree that there is no true linear motion; it's an illusion. Everything moves in arcs and spirals.
Beyond that, though, the above essay is kinda getting the topic lost in the weeds. :) It's describing, in a lot of detail, "external" athletic movement, which use muscles in a different way than what we use for internal-power actions. To make internal structure and generate power and force, we are using certain muscle and fascia groups in atypical ways that create dynamic tensions and act upon "passive" connective tissues (tendons, ligaments) to achieve various effects based on torsion, elasticity, expansion and condensing of tissues in a different way than the kind of movement described above, in the javelin throw. The words may sound the same, but they are describing two very different ways to move and to generate power.
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