Hip bone connected to jaw bone?
(Singing) "Your hip bone's connected to your jaw bone..." Wait! What!!??? Could tension in the gym be affecting your performance? Now I'm not talking about tension between you and other gym-goers, I'm talking about you being so tense in your body but in the wrong way that it limits your flexibility and mobility. If you're too tense in your workout you may not be getting the benefits you're working so hard for.
There is an old spiritual song which speaks of the connection of the bones through the body. (Great song for teaching kids too)
But don't just take my word for it... To illustrate how tension in the body can adversely affect your performance, have a look at the following video:
Enough said? Well almost.
As you can see, tension through the jaw can affect your mobility and flexibility. this will obviously affect how you perform not only in the gym but out on the field, court or track.
So what can you do about it? Relax. and yes it's easier said than done, but watch how relaxation can boost your performance. Pay attention to the lack of tension through the jaw and face as Powell cruises to an easy victory. (Replay from 4:00 min)
The tenser that one feels, the slower will be his or her movements. The tension interferes with the synchronization and timing of the movement. To perform optimally, one must activate the muscles at the right time and in the right order. In a punch, the fist does not do the work; the fist transmits the force generated by the legs and torso. In Awareness Through Movement, Feldenkrais wrote, “In a well-organized body work done by the large muscles is passed on to its final destination through the bones by weaker muscles, but without losing much of its power on the way.” A disorganized body leaks power.
Tensing the muscles prior to say throwing a punch demonstrates tension, and this tension affects coordination and performance in any sport skill. Waiting to form a first until the last possible instant is an example of relaxation in movement. Rick DeMont, associate head coach for men’s swimming at the University of Arizona, said, “Tension is slow, tension is inefficient. You need to be relaxed.” The top athletes have a superior ability to relax the muscles not actively involved in the immediate muscle contractions or co-contractions. When the muscles relax, they do not inhibit the performance of the prime movers or synergists involved with the movement.
DeMont called the need for relaxation “the paradox of athletics” because coaches otherwise stress hard work and effort, which appear to contradict with the need for proper, and timely, relaxation. Clyde Hart, the director of track and field at Baylor University and coach to Michael Johnson, pointed to the way that children run. “They throw their heads back….They think that the harder they go, the faster they run.” The paradox between hard and fast, efficient, and relaxed. That tension is the first thing that he corrects. “The quickest way to improve a sprinter is to teach him to relax." Unlike many coaches who tell players to relax, but fail to provide the tools to relax, Hart has his athletes concentrate on their eyes. He instructs them to run sleepy eyed; when they run with eyes wide, they are tense. As the eyes relax, the face relaxes, followed by the jaw, and finally, Hart tells runners to let the feeling spread through the shoulders and arms (Kolata, 2008).
Playing a game or competing in a sport requires fast, coordinated movements. To maximize these movements, athletes must relax; when athletes move with tension, their movements slow down. The goal is to teach relaxation when moving to increase movement efficiency. Rather than yell at athletes to relax in the heat of the moment, teach athletes to breathe and incorporate meditation or another mindfulness technique to decrease physical and emotional stress and tension. The athletes will move more efficiently, which leads to quicker, more effective movement