This week's post is about the importance of the pursuit of perfect movement mechanics in the face of challenge. Being at the end of your rope means that you have used up any buffering of poor mechanics and the margin for error is slim. I love Urban Dictionary's definition of being at the end of the rope as "to be out of options or alternative courses of action; to be stuck in a bad situation" because it really gets to the essence of the importance of quality of movement.
It doesn't take an in-depth knowledge of biomechanics or pathoanatomy to know this is a bad position, right? What makes athletics so awesome is the opportunity to push the boundaries of movement mechanics and challenge the body throughout the entire spectrum of movement. But we have to do it the right way.
So how do we keep ourselves and athletes within the adaptational range and away from moving at the end of our rope?
1) We need to train in these weak positions and the only way to discover our weak positions is to add variables and movements that challenge the athlete to maintain excellent position and mechanics (within reason of course - having a shot putter run multiple 5Ks probably isn't necessary to drive appropriate adaptation). Doing step-ups for the basketball player pictured above really isn't getting to the bottom of the athlete's movement mechanics - we can do better.
Even mobility work will not transfer to functional movements unless that movement and position is reinforced - and motor control is prioritized. The beauty of a variable movement training program is that it challenges the athlete to see and feel what those tenuous positions are like and adjust accordingly. Drive the change thru competitive stress, position/range, speed, load, duration, metabolic demand to name a few.
2) Take off the low-hanging fruit by improving some of these everyday errors: Part 1. Part 2.
3) Most importantly, strength and conditioning coaches are the catalyst here. We need to make the athlete aware of the movement faults, trust your eyes, and don't be afraid to unload the movement to understand why the athlete is at the end of the rope.
Bottomline: At some point, the details start to matter. Don't let injury be that point. Optimal movement mechanics and motor control should ALWAYS be prioritized so that the athlete can handle and adapt to movement challenges and stay away from the end of the rope.