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10.07.2010

Being Too Stiff Is A Good Thing

Being Too Stiff Is A Good Thing

If you watched the Congressional hearings on concussions you heard scientists saying that athletes seldom have time to contract the musculature of their head and neck prior to impact.

This statement is partially true, yet it is not a statement against the value of neck development. Nor is the statement against developing any musculature tissue in our biological system.

Stiffness is the resistance of an elastic body to deformation by an applied force.

Physics defines elasticity as resistance to change. The greater the resistance to change, the greater is the elasticity of the material. To quantify this they look at how fast the material returns to it’s original shape or configuration when the deforming force is removed.

By definition steel is more elastic than rubber.  Steel comes back to its original shape faster than rubber when the deforming force is removed.

When we strength train we want our muscles to become stiffer. Stiffer is a good thing…having your neck truly deformed after a serious impact is not.

A few months ago a study out of France, “Real-time single-cell response to stiffness” is rocking the exercise community.

In a very intense molecular study of the cellular substrate forces, when they tried to collect data, they found the mechanical cellular response was faster than the  rate of data collection!

This mean’t the early cell response to its mechanical environment, such as muscular tension, is controlled by its stiffness and not by the magnitude of the cellular substrate forces.

Liken this to hitting a stiff hard object…if it is extremely hard  you better be careful how you hit it or it will feel like it is hitting you.

They also found a cell responds to their stiffness regardless of the history of contractions or cell deformation. Having cells get stiffer is what is important not the method or occurrence of how the stiffness was brought about.

And get this… the study found an instantaneous cytoskeletan (structural components of the cellular environment) stiffness. An instantaneous response to the cellular substrate forces means a stiff strong tissue aids in protecting you NOW at the instant of contact!

Of course, all biological tissues obey the laws of physics and this though surprising to some should not be.

Keep those necks and bodies stiff and Get Strong …lower the subconcussive forces and protect the athletes.

Pendulum neck machine

Back to the physics of all this, the less a body can be stretched or deformed without breaking it, the more elastic it is considered in physics.

Soooo keep those elastic bodies stiff and Get Strong.

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