Contraction Sensitivity Isometrics™
CSI’s are the skilled elicitation of a strategic sequence of static contractile responses to a series of light forces applied manually in strategic direction and response-sensitive magnitude to both the agonistic and the antagonistic muscles surrounding a joint in their shortest and longest ends respectively.
Importance in Exercise
The primary purposes for CSI’s:
- The initial step in PPFC Progressive Preparation For Challenge (as a substitute for stretching)
- Introduces the joint/s and associated co-contracting musculature to the direction of resistance of the exercise allowing it the opportunity to progressively orchestrate the required tensions around the joint/s
- Potentially influences the “current settings” in the positional extremes that represent the ends of the Exercise Specific AROM and the associated contractile lengths
- An opportunity to assess the joint control at the current extremes of range in a highly sensitive manner
- May be employed as a low-level exercise/stimulus if needed to progress excessively deconditioned contraction near end ranges (i.e. to improve near-zero levels of tension production)
- Joint positions are determined by the exercise to be performed. Understanding (not memorization) of musculoskeletal anatomy, joint mechanics can be helpful, but are not required, however, the ability to define the viable positions for the specific exercise is vital.
- Introduce a body position that eliminates the need for contraction (removes or reduces the client’s active limb control requirements) at the involved joint/s as much as possible. Manual support from the practitioner is critical and must be highly sensitive and skilled. The client must feel secure in the practitioner’s support of the limb in order to relax.
- Client moves actively to a comfortable, non-straining position associated with full shortening of the agonists (as defined by the resistance / TOW).
- He/she should be able to stay there or it’s not comfortable and non-straining.
- Maintaining the static positions of all other joints is critical to contractile precision.
- Support or positional changes (body in space) may be required to reduce effort, the influence of other muscles, or influence of gravity pulling into an uncomfortable position.
- Excessive force, excessive range, or even the action of other muscles involved in holding the limb may incite protective responses and diminish the effect.
- Check contractile control “into” that range
- Into = manual force applied to shortened side directed out of the position of shortening.
- Client only holds. (“hold right there”, “keep this precise position”) Not “arm wrestling”. Not trying to “win”.
- Client does not guess at a percentage of effort to produce; merely meets the minimal load offered with an commensurate effort
- Most clients will default toward aggressiveness and do too much if not continually reminded to “just hold”.
- Practitioner gently applies mere ounces of force tangential to the limb and in the plane for slow 6-8 count.
- The exact time is less important than monitoring of the effect.
- It is not to be fatiguing in any way.
- This procedure cannot be performed independently against one’s own “internal stops” as this is likely to illicit protective responses
- Remain in this exact position (precise contractile lengths) for the next step.
- Check contractile control “out of” that position (traditional PNF)
- Apply same level of force to the lengthened side / antagonist
- Assess for any increased opportunity to move further into the shortened position with the same degree of comfort i.e. “take up the slack.”
- Range may change.
- If primary the influence in the current position is current settings/acute conditioning then it may change.
- Given that range is really about contractile length, shortening may occur microscopically with no visible change in joint position.
- Range may not change. Procedure is still successful.
- Not attached to or emotional about lack of change
- Could be structural normal, abnormal
- Or orchestrated muscular protection currently necessary
- Either way we have started our orchestration and PPFC
- Do not stray from the original positions or new position between isometrics
- This makes it easier to assess minor changes in position if any
- If the position can’t be maintained then the “comfort” rule was violated or the force applied was too great.
- If in fact it is challenging even at the lowest level force, then it has become your first exercise.
- Range may change.
- Perform the first procedure checking contractile control “into” the range again.
- This will confirm the contractile integrity in the new position of shortening and can be the conclusion of the series.
- If the first series produced considerable change the decision may be made to proceed through another series, in which case proceed to number 8.
- If you do another antagonist/lengthened contraction, then check for more range again and follow up with another short end/agonist contraction into the range.
- Start and end with agonist (short end) contraction.
- Therefore can be a total of 3, 5, etc. total isometrics combined
- i.e. short side, long side, assess, short side / long side, assess, short side
- Now you should go to the other end of that plane/range and assess the antagonist in its shortest position and the agonist in its longest.
Remember the use of the words agonist and antagonist above are based upon the exercise for which one is preparing.
- Gain an awareness of and constantly monitor what’s moving and what’s not during this process.
- Mentally acknowledge repeatedly that the end range may be due to normal or abnormal structure so that this sinks in!! We must have no emotional attachment to whether it changes or not.
- Client moving too far past comfortable and/or easily sustainable positions… find that edge!
- Too much force imposed
- Lack of practitioner sensitivity to the quality, nature, properties of the contraction or poor response to these
- Imprecise directions of force (tangential is key)
- Client required to hold limb / fight gravity or won’t relinquish it.
CSI should not be confused as being similar to or conflicting with MAT Jump Start. Each serves entirely different purposes and are entirely dissimilar procedures. In fact the two work well in concert i.e. during the “warm up” (PPFC) CSI may help to identify a specific reason for performing MAT prior to loading.
|Purpose||Progressive Preparation for ChallengePotentially alter “Current Settings” Low-level stimulus for near-zero contraction||Identify and remedy weak positions|
|Positions||Determined by the plane of the exercise and client comfort/sustainability||Predetermined / protocol|
|Amount of force||Determined by practitioner sensitivity to client response||Determined by client (e.g. “10%”) Predetermined by protocol (e.g. 25#’s)|
|Directions of force||Ex specific; direction sequenced between agonist and antagonist||Predetermined / protocol|
|If client can’t hold position the trainer pushed too hard! Back off, find the appropriate amount and progress them!||If client can’t hold position they are weak|
- Short-end contraction is defined here as the shortest end of contractile opportunity in a given set of fibers. It is relative / contextual and influenced by:
- The specific combination of joint positions which will produce
- a relative shortest position for a specific set of fibers as determined by the specific combination of joint positions that comprise the exercise
- the absolute shortest contractile length for a specific set of fibers as determined by a specific combination of strategic joint positions required to fully shorten the goal tissues
- Single joint muscle
- Reaching the short end can be influenced by the passive insufficiency of multi-joint muscles
- Multi-joint muscle
- Reaching the short end can requires both joints to be strategically positioned
- The specific combination of joint positions which will produce
- The short end is considered to typically be the “weakest” due to the sole influences of active tension production and the moment of the associated muscles unlike longer positions which are influenced by varying combinations of active tension, passive tension (L-T relationship) and improved mechanics though part of the range.
- The short-end is virtually always avoided during any version of eternal performance be it sports, traditional “functional exercise” or the simple performance of “lifting the leg” in a “rehab” exercise. Keep in mind that the short end is determined by the direction of resistance at the specific point in time. What may seem to be a joint position associated with full shortening may actually be due to the decelerative eccentric lengthening of the antagonist. The load determines this, not the motion.
- This can be further complicated by inertial influences reducing, eliminating the magnitude of resistance or completely reversing its direction.
- Weak vs. inhibited?
- For the above reasons the shortest position of contraction can become “deconditioned” and unavailable due to relative weakness.
- It is the end of contraction that is often inhibited due to protective responses to inflammation, injury, mechanical and noxious stresses, etc.
- Key to addressing the shortest end will be progression.
- Given that it is potentially sensitive to stress and already impaired by innate weakness, conditioned weakness, and/or inhibition, it is important that you do not just attack this end with load or challenge.
- Progression should consider the following factors:
- Length progression: Start at the lengths of contractile control and tolerance and progress toward slightly shorter lengths over time.
- Load progression: The amount of tension demanded is typically a matter of how much resistance / load is imposed. This must be progressed very slowly.
- Initial challenge at this end must not generate fatigue or failure.
- Consider “sensitivity” and quality as the key mind sets.
- Stop on the “good ones”. More is not better with this level of stimulation.
- It is analogous to “perfecting one’s hand writing” in that quality is the key and fatigue does not stimulate improvement. Accuracy via attention to detail does!