Activation-based exercises not only produce a stronger mind-muscle connection, but can also induce a state of preparedness in the athlete that can increase their overall capacity while helping prevent injury.
“Activation exercise is a low-intensity exercise that is designed to activate a muscle that will prepare the body for more intense activity,” says Frank Velasquez, Jr., the Director of Sports Performance at Allegheny Health Network. “The strengthening of these muscles will also help to better protect the joints they surround from unnecessary stress.”
How can muscle activation boost performance?
By activating certain muscle groups prior to a workout, these exercises encourage efficient, effective movement while at the same time discouraging poor biomechanics which could lead to a subpar performance or even injury.
By teaching the body exactly what you expect it to do, you can mitigate the chances of misuse or overcompensation resulting from overdeveloped muscle groups or range of motion limitations.
“A common misfiring pattern for runners is the tensor fascia latae and quadratus lumborum being substituted for the gluteus medius,” says Marino. “The gluteus medius is one of the most important stabilizing muscles in running. Weakness and/or inhibition of this muscle during running can lead to hip, knee or back pain.”
Further, she says that an activation-based routine can aid in performance by helping combat muscle imbalances. This not only improves your running efficiency, it also decreases your chance of injury.