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  • Colin Liggett

Perfecting Muscle Firing in the Pedal Stroke

pedal stroke muscle activation

The perfect pedal stroke requires muscles firing at just the right time throughout the pedal stroke. It is a complex relationship of activation, inhibition, concentric contractions, and eccentric contractions.

The illustration above is a simplified representation of what muscles fire and when during the pedal stroke. I prefer the second illustration as it more accurately takes into account down-regulated activation of the muscles throughout eccentric contractions.

pedal stroke

I'll often give clients a very simplified example of muscle firing patterns in cycling or running by describing when the hip is flexing the hip flexors are active and the hip extensors are inhibited, and during hip extension the opposite is true. This gross simplification is to illustrate the important role of the nervous system in joint centration.

Joint centration is the ideal alignment of bones in a joint due to the perfectly balanced firing of agonist and antagonistic muscles, allowing generation of maximal power with optimal movement and minimal joint degradation.

My simplified example serves the purpose of illustrating that if a muscle is not activating or inhibiting at exactly the correct time in a movement pattern, it throws off the perfect alignment of the associated joint causing power leakage and, with time, causes wear and tear on the joint and surrounding structures.

If you have read my blog before, you will have read me discuss inhibited muscles, muscles that don't activate when they should. I used to treat via Neurokinetic Therapy (NKT) which exclusively searches for and corrects inhibited muscles. One of the reasons I started to develop SensoriMotor Repatterning (SMR) was because I realized an important part of the muscle/joint equation was being overlooked… that muscles could also be overactive (hence not inhibit when they should). Thus I developed a therapy that could search for and correct both inhibited and overactive muscles.

Inhibited muscles are easy to find, they present as “weak”. I put weak in quotes, because if I can change a “weak” muscle to strong within minutes, then it was never really weak, it was neurologically inhibited.

Overactive muscles are harder to locate, but they are equally as important to find and correct as inhibited muscles. For a joint to be optimally centrated, muscles need to be able to activate (be upregulated by the nervous system) and inhibit (be downregulated by the nervous system) at the correct time within any given movement sequence. This allows for all the subtle nuances of how muscles truly fire in an optimal pedal stroke.

SMR can find and correct all significant compensation patterns causing both inhibited and overactive muscles. SMR can optimize performance, resolve chronic pain and allow for a decreased risk of injury in three sessions. These patterns remain resolved and you won't need frequent check ups.


#SMR #pedalstroke #cycling #Glutes #hipextension #hipflexion #optimalfiringpatterns


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