What is muscle activation?
First, let’s define the term. Simply put, muscle activation is “an exercise that assists a muscle fire in the way it was intended to,” says Martine Marino, a licensed physical therapist with Novacare in Pittsburgh, PA. “This is referred to a lot of times as neuromuscular re-education.”
In other words, activation-based exercises target the appropriate muscles designed for a specific activity and, in turn, reinforce the brain-body connection. These exercises help establish a stronger communication link, so the body is better prepared to move in the intended way and fire from the right spots.
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.”