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Ideal Body Position (Angles)

Ideal Body Position (Angles)

Understanding Closed Angles

All power movements, regardless of the movement itself, must start from the position that will deliver the most power in the most efficient way. Have you ever watched a baseball pitcher on the wind-up? He brings his arm back as far as he can, while bending the elbow and wrist as much as possible. He then brings his arm forward with great speed and force, straightening his arm and only releasing the ball at the very end of the extension of his wrist. This coiling action allows the muscles used for throwing to "pre-load" like a spring, before they contract to deliver the powerful pitch.

Another example is the high jump. A high jumper will "sink" into his jump before exploding over the bar. He uses all the muscle groups in sequence. Starting from bent angles, he first opens the hip joint, thrusting it toward the bar. Then his quad and hamstring muscles contract to drive his body upwards, followed by his knee joints straightening to full extension. Finally, his ankle joints straighten the contraction of the calf muscle and the small muscles of the foot and toes.

Similarly, to get any distance out of a standing long jump, one must first compress the body into a low position. This prepares the muscles for the stretch/release response which will maximize power. In other words, the jumper closes the angles in preparation for the power movement.

Regardless of the power sport, you will find that the closed-angle principle applies before the power is delivered. Furthermore, all joints that close in preparation for movement must extend fully in order to complete the movement. This is called the sum of the joint forces. The pitcher extends through the shoulder, elbow, wrist and fingers. The jumper extends through the hip, knee, ankles and toes.

In skating, the muscle groups used to deliver power during the push are the hips, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and the small muscles around the ankles and in the feet. To maximize the amount of power these muscle groups can deliver, we need to first close the angles around those joints in order to provide the most powerful push. In other words, bending at the waist to close the hip joint, bending the knee, and bending the ankle.

The angle between the stomach and the thigh is approximately 45 degrees or less. The closer your lower belly is to your thigh, the more muscle recruitment you get around the hip muscles. The angle between the thigh and the calf is about 90 degrees, and the angle between the shin and the top of the foot is about 45 degrees. You need to delay the push until all of the angles are closed and ready to deliver maximum power.