The Science of Performance Enhancement

vitruvian manMuscle strength is important for many reasons, particularly to help protect our joints and optimise athletic performance. In life we need to have sufficient strength to perform normal activities, such as picking up our children, moving furniture or going for a run. There has been a lot of research into normal muscle strength in sporting function. For example, we have a fairly good idea how strong the muscles of the hip should be in order to reduce the risk of injury to the knee or lower back in runners.

The muscles of the shoulder are extremely important for normal shoulder function particularly in a sporting capacity. The shoulder has such a shallow socket that weak muscles around the shoulder are thought to cause excessive movement (translation) of the ball in the socket causing inflammation of the structures around the shoulder and pain. Weakness of lateral rotation in subacromial impingement syndrome has been repeatedly described in the research literature.

Muscle strength testing using a myometer

One of the problems with testing muscle strength is that any weakness can be difficult to quantify without electronic equipment. That is why we use manual myometers to give an accurate reading on all muscles tested (accurate to 0.1 Newtons). This way we can accurately and reliably tell you which muscles are weak and how weak they are. We can identify asymmetries in your muscle strength and tell you how effective your rehabilitation program is by measuring your increased strength over subsequent visits. This will give you a target to work towards and feedback on your progress.

Maximal Lactate Steady State

A gold standard for the measurement of endurance performance is the Maximal Lactate Steady State (MLSS); this is the exercise intensity that can be maintained for the race duration without a continuing rise in blood lactate. This is often called the ‘anaerobic threshold’ and is very closely related to athletic performance. This can be improved with the right training program. There has been a lot of research in recent years studying the effects of different training programs on athletic performance and the positive effect these programs can have on lactate threshold and VO2 max. Most people can achieve significant improvements in their competitive times with a program that does not include more hours but is based around a needs analysis, realistic goals and ‘training smart’.

We use performance testing to help show you how your schedule is affecting your performance. We will calculate your percentage body fat using skin fold, strength testing, valid and reliable field tests that have been shown to be good predictors of running performance including maximal testing and calculation of heart rate deflection point. The purpose of testing is to;

  • provide a baseline from which to monitor return to fitness after injury
  • evaluate the effectiveness of our training program
  • motivate through goal setting
  • promote adherence to the program
  • give you feedback regarding your progress
  • identify possible strengths and weaknesses (and thus decide where to focus attention)