Deceleration Training For The Everyday Athlete!
Imagine you’re running to that meeting, dodging people, pivoting around, rushing to hail a cab and coming to a quick stop. You’ve just accelerated, decelerated and quickly changed directions – that’s a very athletic move! Another example, the mom (me, *smiles*) that quickly sprints from across the room to stop an open milk carton from falling to the floor. Pick your scenario, there is a start of motion leading to a slow down to a complete stop. We all need to be able to slow our bodies down under control. We rely on it in everyday life, without even being aware of it! So let’s bring some attention to it.
What is deceleration training? Why is it important?
Simply put, to decelerate is to decrease velocity (yes, obvious). What that translates to in the human body is to be able to decrease momentum, ideally, in a safe and efficient manner. Think of it as our braking mechanics. Our muscles must absorb that force of momentum in all planes of motion then gradually dissipate it to prevent injury. Let’s take the example of the person running to get a cab; first they begin motion, accelerate and dodge a couple of people – which requires a quick change of direction, stopping and re-accelerating – continuing to the edge of the sidewalk before they come to a quick stop. Now, if his/her body isn’t efficient at slowing down and distributing forces he/she is going to “pop a wheelie”, sort to speak. Their at a high risk for injury and may very well sprain an ankle or tear a meniscus. That’s why teaching your body to decelerate is a vital part of any training program. We are already doing it in everyday life. Training for it in a controlled environment, repeating optimally aligned movement patterns will help you to be better prepared when a quick pivot comes your way.
How Do We Train It?
Before beginning deceleration training you must have the basics down. These are foundation movements (squats, lunges, push-ups) trained in optimal alignment. The muscles must be trained to absorb force while lengthening, this is the eccentric phase of a movement (the muscle is stretched under a load). For a bicep curl, the eccentric phase is when the weight is traveling down and the biceps are yielding, for a squat, on the down phase the glutes and quads are yielding. Slow down the tempo on the eccentric phase, e.g. 4 seconds to lower into a squat, 1 second to rise. This method can be applied to any exercise. Once those moves are solid you can incorporate simple drills like drop squats, below I’ve linked to two variations. Then there’s the box drop, I’ve also linked a demonstration below. What’s critical when performing these is a soft gentle landing, you shouldn’t hear a loud thud when your feet hit the ground. The fourth link displays a progressive drill with all planes of motion involved, great clip and concisely explained. Another thing I’d suggest is the speed ladder. You can start off slow and don’t require a ladder, chalkboard on pavement will do if you don’t have one. I’ve included a link that demonstrates a good starting point. As you become better you can up the speed and focus on the controlled stop.
Hope this has been insightful and you will start training to slow down! As always don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or if you’d like a consultation on beginning a customized program!
Stand Tall, Breathe Deep!
Dynamic Drop Squat – <—Click, This would be the progression from above. Focus on landing softly