Activation Exercises Don't Change Movement Patterns

motor pattern muscle activation May 27, 2022

How to Change a Movement Pattern

Strength Training + Skill Training = Improved Motor Pattern⁣


Strength Training

  • Increased capacity to produce force ⁣

  • Improved muscle recruitment and activation⁣ ⁣

  • Ex: Calf Raise⁣


 Skill Training

  • Increased corticospinal excitability⁣ ⁣

  • Decreased stimulation intensity required to elicit motor evoked potentials (AKA doesn’t take as much signal to produce a movement pattern) ⁣

  • Changes in the primary motor cortex ⁣

  • Ex: Single Limb Hopping with External Cues⁣

So What Does This Mean?

Let’s say we want to change the motor pattern of a sprinter's toe-off gait mechanics.⁣ Calf strengthening and big toe extension range of motion may give her the capacity to explode off the block without twisting her foot.⁣ ⁣

But….⁣ ⁣ 

We also need to give some external cues to point the knee and toes forward during single leg hops, broad jumps, and hill sprints if we want her to develop that new motor pattern while she’s running.⁣

Muscle Activation Exercises Produce Very Little Change⁣

Do "X" activation exercise to fix "Y" movement pattern" posts are very popular….. but there’s a large body of evidence suggesting that muscle activation exercises produce very little change in corticospinal excitability, motor evoked potentials, the motor cortices, etc. and need to be paired with skill training.⁣

Botton Line: Strength Training & Skill Training = Improved Motor Pattern

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