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Comera Movement Science: Application of the science in sport

Our Head of Education, Lincoln Blandford, shares some thoughts on the value of Comera Movement Science’s elite movement management system.

Publication to Application?

The value of an evidence-based approach to managing sustained performance is apparent within elite sport. Yet, the potential delay between research publication to field-based application continues. Additionally, for any practitioner working with either individual or team sports, there is the acceptance that managing the performance of each athlete is complex (many factors may affect, to greater or lesser extents). With emerging topics such as movement variability, muscle synergies, and muscle recruitment threshold becoming linked to injury and/or performance in the literature, questions arise as to how to apply these concepts with athletes. Comera Movement Science (CMS) offer a range of evidence-led technologies, principles, and frameworks that supply practitioners with tools to successfully navigate the complexity of human movement whilst aligning with contemporary research. Approaches are offered that consider not only variability in movement but also the relationship between muscle synergies and the link to the altered muscle recruitment.

Choice Not Shapes

The principles of CMS place an emphasis on the management of movement and Movement Health to address the complexity accompanying each injury presentation, injury risk, or performance deficit (Dingenen, 2018; McNeill & Blandford, 2015). To manage movement, we must have the ability to rate movement; yet what template can be used to judge each individual when then there is wide-spread acknowledgement that ‘everyone moves differently’? ‘Testing choice’ in movement does not require athletes to produce a ‘perfect’ movement (if such a thing exists) but instead enquires whether they can access the range of movement solutions in their own movement system (Mottram & Blandford, 2020). Each individual is then profiled not against an optimal movement pattern but against whether they have the ability to vary their movement to successfully meet the demands of performance and function.

Spreading the Risk, Profiling Threshold

Closely linked to the ability to vary movement is the body’s highly adaptable skeletal muscle system. There is extensive focus on injuries to those muscles that limit player/athlete availability and a large amount of literature on those interventions that seek to address compromised properties of these tissues. CMS offer a complementary approach to help sustain performance of athletes and combat the injury risk associated to competition. In contrast to only targeting the tissue at risk (hamstrings), the demand-share approach highlights the need to increase the capacity of other muscle synergists, so that work/risk can spread across the whole movement system (Blandford, 2018a). Finally, it has been seen that movement and muscle synergies are altered in the presence of pain, and that these changes can linger even once athletes have returned to competition (Blandford, 2018b). Recently, it has been seen that pain can alter the relationship between slow and fast motor units within muscles (Martinez-Valdes, 2020); slow motor units may become inhibited whilst fast motor units may lower their threshold of recruitment. Profiling altered movement in respect to threshold represents one of the fundamental principles underpinning the CMS approach (Mischiati 2015; Mottram & Comerford, 2008).

Over the next few weeks, we will be drawing attention to different technologies, principles and frameworks that help support practitioners manage movement within elite sport.



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