Tuesday Night Musings by Coach Kris.
Tension to Task.
Hey guys, hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and congratulations to those who completed the row!
Most of you know that I have spent the last year rehabbing from having two babies in under two years. It’s been a slow process but in this rebuilding phase I have learned so much about my own tendencies as they relate to performance in the box and in my daily activities. One of the most beneficial things I have learned is a concept coined by physiotherapist Antony Lo called “tension to task” and I wanted to pass it along.
Basically, Antony defines it as “using the least amount of tension required to achieve the task with the desired technique.” So a 1rm back squat in a wod is going to require maximum tension, while minimal tension is required when performing an air squat during the warm-up. This seems like common sense right? Right. Until you really start to hone in on your tendencies and realize, whoa I am in a constant state of tension (i.e. constantly holding your core in and never fully relaxing those muscles) or the opposite I’m not holding enough tension (think bottoming out in your squat and letting everything cave in).
An easy reference for this is to think of performing a plank. If you squeeze everything as tight as you can and hold your breath how long will you last? Conversely, if your core is loose and your back arched you may hold it longer but you aren’t achieving the desired technique. Neither one of these options applies proper tension to task. We want to be able to perform in a way that is sustainable for our bodies yet yields the desired result from the movement.
Ladies, do you leak during dubs? That can be a sign of a tension issue. Pain can also be a sign of an issue with tension to task so if your back or knees always hurt this is definitely something to explore when looking at solutions with your dr or pt or coach. As coaches we give cues when we notice obvious signs of not enough tension (like rounding the back in a deadlift) or too much tension (constant breath holding even through light movements) but this concept is so individual that it will require you playing around with it on your own to find what works for you, not only during workouts but your daily life as well. Different tasks put different demands on your system and the tension and breath you use to complete those tasks should vary as well.
Obviously, breathing is something we do automatically so really examining our tendencies in this area alone can bring to light habits that may need tweaking in order for our bodies to perform at their best. Your breathing is something you can easily hone in on as a sign of the amount of tension you’re using during a task. So start paying attention! You want to find that sweet spot for each movement that doesn’t overcook your system but where you are also not a noodle.
Hope this gives you a starting point to get to know what your tendencies are and if you’re curious to know more check out Antony Lo on Instagram or hit me up with questions! Have a great week!
Thanks for reading.
Attention: Remember the Helo Annual White Elephant Bingo Christmas Party is Saturday, Dec. 15th, and will commence at 6:30 p.m. with the Bingo going forward at 7 p.m.!