Stretch Shortening Cycle
Essentially this subject is very important when it comes to training power for explosive sports.
The stretch shortening cycle is an eccentric loaded stretch followed by a concentric action in the same muscle group. One can observe the stretch shortening cycle during fast movements like kicking, punching, throwing and jumping.
Whether you’re a hockey player, figure skater, gymnast, Boxer or everyday lifter you might have used the stretch shortening cycle and not even known. If trained correctly you can use it to help maximize your speed and power with every rep, stride, shot and jump.
On and off the field, court and rink the stretch shortening cycle can improve muscle power production up to 50% in movements like vertical jumping. The improvement of performance is attributed to the stored elastic energy (also known as potential energy) in the muscle during the stretch portion of the movement. Together with its re use of that energy during the concentric action of the movement.
Think about a rubber band and now imagine pulling it back to max stretch and let it go. It produces a very powerful movement enough that some people flinch just before they let go.
Every band just like your muscle has a max stretch and that’s called tensile strength. If you stretch the band too far it might break or in the case of training an injury could occur.
When we train with stretch shortening in mind it enables us to produce more force once the muscle has been stretched. Important to note that there is a technique and timing involved when using this method. “Perfect practice makes perfect movements.”
Plyometrics are a great example of the stretch shortening cycle. Exercises that involve rapid stretching and then shortening of the muscle group during dynamic movements.
To effectively get the most out of plyometric exercises we need enough stretching that causes a stretch reflex and elastic recoil in the muscles and tendons when paired with the same muscle group. Your body then creates a powerful force that overloads the muscle and increases strength and power.
Keep in mind that with all this extra power which sounds fantastic, it can be dangerous and injuries can occur. A good coach will always focus on form and function with the emphasis of proper warm up. “ Preparing for for the battle is just as important as the battle it self”