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5.31.2010

Molecules, Beams, and Neck Protection

GraphicMike Gittleson was the Director of Strength & Conditioning at the University of Michigan for 30 years and was a part of 15 Football Championships in that time. He explains, if you look at the molecules, you will understand why it so important to train the neck to protect the athlete.

Polymer molecules in human tissue can resist bending forces similar to the bending elasticity of flexible beams.

This means the molecules linked together in your muscle tissue bend similarly to 2x4s! Whoa! 

A polymer is just a large molecule made by the covalent linking of multiple identical or similar monomers together.

Monomers are the small molecules, the building blocks, the subunits, of polymers.

Covalent bonds are the stable chemical links between atoms.  Atoms linked by two or more covalent bonds cannot rotate around the bMoleculeond axis.  This becomes the major influence of the molecule’s three dimensional shape and stability.

This is why we have a particular form or shape, or look like we do.

Once bent, pulled, or squeezed, molecules try to drift back to their equilibrium distribution.  The configurations of molecules in cells are not randomized moment to moment. Once in one configuration, a molecule tends to stay in that same configuration. Cells are not disordered.

The behavior of the polymer is this:

In the absence of an externally applied force, a ‘bump’, pull, squeeze, or bend, entropy drives a long polymer into a compact form.  Like a ball of loose string the polymer may in fact look springy.Picture

Once pulled, bent, squeezed, sheared or with some hydrodynamic force the polymer becomes extended.

When the force is removed the polymer chain returns to the more favorable compact form. Hence there is a dissipation of force and  polymers are called entropy springs.

SpringsTake one hand, push quickly and forcefully on the side of your other bicep. The force dissipates down into the forearm up into the shoulder and some out into the universe as heat. When you release the hand the bicep springs back. Your molecules turn your bicep back into its original form.

Deflection of Beams:

The deformation of a beam is usually expressed in terms of its deflection from its original unloaded position. The deflection is measured from the original neutral surface of the beam to the neutral surface of the deformed beam. The configuration assumed by the deformed neutral surface is known as the elastic curve of the beam.

Adding more material to the beam, or trussing the beam, you are reducing the deformation caused by a given force.

Adding more muscle tissue to the neck means you are adding more polymers and therefore more entropy springs. This way, when there is a collision, with the added muscular material it means your neck is now capable of dissipating more force, and reducing deformation.

Therefore it makes sense to train your beam to Get Strong.

Pendulum Neck Machine Pendulum Neck MachinePendulum Neck Machine

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