A Prescription to Vibe:
Use plyometrics and a musical beat to train coordination!
After injury, an important part of the return to sport continuum is plyometrics! Plyometrics are a type of training involving quick ballistic movements using power to produce maximum force over a short period of time (think of a sprinter bouncing on their toes to warm up before a race.)
For this to happen, there are receptors in our tissues that communicate to the brain where the limb is in space.
Ligaments are like tape for your joints, but tape that senses movement!
The brain must process this information, decide on an appropriate reaction and communicate back to the muscles the action it must produce and the force and speed with which it needs to contract. The brain must do this for ALL the muscles involved in the movement and integrate this info into a coordinated action. This is done in milliseconds…but not without practice!
After injury, neuromuscular control is significantly affected; this means that the brain to muscle connection is not as quick or strong. This translates to a decreased ability to adjust our muscular responses to maintain joint stability during activity.²
All of this is meant to highlight the importance of quick, volitional muscle activation! Below is a fun way to use plyometric principles to train muscle control. If you are recovering from an injury it’s best to follow the progressions your trainer or physiotherapist has provided you. If you are sport ready and looking for a new way to enhance your neuromuscular control, give it a try!
Music and Exercise...
You don't have to check the literature to know that music can have a profound effect on our workouts; everyone has felt that FLOW where your music and the beat are the direct energy behind your movements. That being said, there has been lot's of research on the impact that music can have on your brain and body!
Emotional response: Think the limbic system... Self chosen music can improve mood and energy levels during a workout if you are emotionally engaged with it.
Music helps regulate the intensity of our bodies response, and positively influence subjective experience (whether or not you are enjoying it.) Higher arousal and positive subjective experiences can increase levels of physical activity and exercise participation (think a spin class.)
Associative/Automatic movements: Music can influence automatic processes like regulation of heart rate and blood pressure. "The central nervous system is highly sensitive to musical cues and its reaction is diverse, involving muscle activation, attention, thoughts, behaviour and executive functions" (Patania et al, 2020)
Coordination: The rhythmic patterns of music along with auditory feedback, facilitate error correction and the execution of movements⁴
Organizing and planning movements: We can use auditory cues to engage different neural circuits to bypass the route by which our brain normally takes to initiates movement. These cues are often used in the rehabilitation of movement disorders such as Parkinsons or stroke.
The idea behind music + plyometrics is, we are training your brain-muscle connection to respond on cue, in this case to a beat! By doing this we can improve the coordination of the muscles we are trying to activate, as well as the speed with which we can do this. Neurons that fire together wire together!
“Plyometrics increase neuromuscular coordination by training the nervous system and making movements more automatic during activity (training effect). This is known as reinforcing a motor pattern and creating automation of activity, which improves neural efficiency and increases neuromuscular performance.¹”
-Bonsfills et al, 2008
Be sure to warm up well and start plyometric exercises without weight (work your way up to a loaded movement.) Producing force over a short period of time can put a lot of stress through our tissues and we want to make sure they are up to the job before we do so!
How to get started:
Choosing the right song: Make a playlist full of songs that hype you up! These songs should have the right beat per minute (BPM) to suit your workout. You will be performing the reps of your exercise to the beat of the song so depending on the pace of your workout, you might choose a BPM anywhere from 60-150. You can also just listen to your regular playlist and improvise by listening for the beat you want to follow.
Choose the right exercise: Start with a two-legged body weight exercise like a squat, or a lightly banded upper extremity movement, like a bicep curl. You can turn any movement into a plyo-style exercise, but it’s best to start with something easy to coordinate with little-to-no resistance. Adding resistance will increase the force your muscle has to produce to move your joint through range in the same amount of time, it also requires greater deceleration control to stay on beat.
During your set, time each rep with the beat of the song. You can contract your muscle on beat and more slowly return to neutral between multiple beats. This simulates times when you need to produce power quickly like during an abrupt change of direction. Try to really nail down the timing, either starting or finishing the contraction EXACTLY on beat. The ratio of contraction to relaxation time should be about 1:4 seconds. This slower return to neutral is important for recovery!
We want the contraction to be powerful, but under control. If you are using bodyweight, bands or free weights make sure that each time you contract that you have control of the movement, and it comes to a complete stop at end range. The eccentric (lengthening contraction) control of the movement is just as important as the power production.
You can also move a joint through its range, then pulse on beat at end range!
For a cardiovascular effect, try unweighted aerobic exercises like jump squats, skipping or skater lunges.
Make it functional: Simulate movement patterns from your sport or life! Train your fast twitch muscle fibers in the same way that they will be used in situ.
Look at the videos below showing the different ways you can integrate this type of training into a workout!
Need some guidance?
The author of this blog, Jade, is one of our outstanding physiotherapists at our physiotherapy clinic in Edmonton. You can book a physiotherapy treatment with Jade by calling our reception team at Shift Physiotherapy & Wellness (587-442-3111) or book online.
Would you like to know more about Jade and our team of Practitioners at our physiotherapy clinic in Edmonton?
1-Bonsfills, N., Gómez-Barrena, E., Raygoza, J.J. et al. Loss of neuromuscular control related to motion in the acutely ACL-injured knee: an experimental study. Eur J Appl Physiol 104, 567–577 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-008-0729-3
2-Davies G, Riemann BL, Manske R. CURRENT CONCEPTS OF PLYOMETRIC EXERCISE. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2015;10(6):760-786.
3-Linford CW, Hopkins JT, Schulthies SS, Freland B, Draper DO, Hunter I. Effects of neuromuscular training on the reaction time and electromechanical delay of the peroneus longus muscle. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2006 Mar;87(3):395-401. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2005.10.027. PMID: 16500175.
4-Patania, Vittoria Maria; Padulo, Johnny; Iuliano, Enzo; ArdigÃ², Luca Paolo; Äular, DraÅ¾en; MiletiÄ, Alen; De Giorgio, Andrea (2020). The Psychophysiological Effects of Different Tempo Music on Endurance Versus High-Intensity Performances. Frontiers in Psychology, 11(), 74–.doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00074
5-Harmon, Nicole M; Kravitz, Len (2007.) The Beat Goes On: The Effects of Music on Exercise. The Kinesiologists http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-expert/nicole-m-harmon (http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-expert/len-kravitz)
6-Daniel J. Levitin; Anna K. Tirovolas (2009). Current Advances in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Music. , 1156(none), 211–231. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04417.x