Kinematic Sequence: Are You Missing Out on Potential Power?

Ever wonder how Tiger Woods hit a 498-yard bomb on the 18th hole at the Mercedes Championship? How about Serena Williams’s consistent 106 mph serves over the net (her record is 128 mph.)? 

Outstanding athletes must optimize every aspect of their performance. One way they do that is to study their kinematic sequence

Their what? 

The kinematic sequence is the study of how energy is transferred first through the large muscles, then through the pelvis and thorax to the arms and legs. Athletes use this information to get the most power to the ball (baseball, soccer, tennis, golf). Being aware of the sequence of energy transfer helps athletes and others calibrate movement to maximize velocity, optimizing their performance. 

You, too, can improve your performance by studying your kinematic sequence. Whether your physical issues stem from joints, muscles, coordination issues, or a combination of these, you can study and improve your mobility, stability, and strength.  

The Kinematic Sequence

The Kinematic Sequence is derived from the 3D analysis measurements of various athletes. Certain aspects of measured movements were found to be commonplace among better athletes. Experts used line graphs to measure sequence, timing, acceleration, deceleration, gain speed, gain segment transferring, and load power for each point of the body. 

Aspects of the Kinematic Sequence

The Kinematic Sequence is composed of three parts, shortened to the acronym ROI. No, not return on investment, the kinematic sequence ROI stands for Reliability, Opportunity, and Improvement. 

  1. Reliability refers to a solid foundation in an athletic movement—a series of dynamic muscular motions that occur every time, no matter the movement’s goal. 
  1. Opportunity accounts for factors like timing, acceleration sequences, deceleration sequences, and joints’ loading to maximize power. 
  1. Improvement occurs when athletes identify inefficiencies in unequal or excessive loads on particular joints. 

With guidance, you work on your movements to produce measurable improvements.

How the Kinematic Sequence Improves Performance

When you’re less fatigued, your workout, game, or any activity just flows. 

It doesn’t mean much to have a perfect swing on Hole 1 if your game is falling apart by Hole 18. The kinematic sequence allows athletes to drive their movements from the larger muscles designed to generate it. Weak movements and fatigue result when the energy load stems from the extremities. If you’re not using your larger muscles properly, you will fatigue faster because you are using your extremities to generate force. 

People of all body types and conditions benefit from examining their own kinematic sequences.  For instance, while golfers of different heights will swing their clubs from different angles, their measured kinematic sequences tend to be similar. Ultimately, moving your body differently will improve movements without forcing your muscles to work too hard, which could lead to injury and exhaustion.

Examples of the Kinematic Sequence

Golf Swing

The four primary segments measured in the kinematic sequence of a golf swing are pelvis, thorax, lead arm, and club.

Baseball Pitch

Large muscles of the lower extremity and trunk during the wind-up and stride phases are transferred to the ball through the shoulder and elbow during the cocking and acceleration phases. 

Tennis Serve

The order of maximum angular velocities during a tennis serve are trunk tilt, upper torso rotation, pelvis rotation, elbow extension, wrist flexion, and shoulder internal rotation. 

How to Perfect the Kinematic Sequence

Your joints play different roles. Hinge, pivot, and ellipsoidal joints all do their part to create backward, forward, sideways, and rotating movements. When different types of joints work together to create coordinated motions, it’s called regional interdependence. 

Joints along the same kinetic chain alternate between being mobile or stable. Improving joint stability and mobility for the respective joints will not only elevate the power of movements generated but reduce pressure and impact on joints not suited for certain motions. Awareness of joint interplay helps athletes reduce the risk of injury. Examining your kinematic sequence involves finding your weak points and strengthening them!

Focus on Mobility

Mobility is the degree to which a joint is allowed to move before being restricted by its surrounding tissues, including muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Many confuse it with flexibility, though they’re not interchangeable. Mobility gives one the ability to perform a certain movement, while someone flexible may lack the strength, stability, or coordination.

Mobilizing Joints

Some joints are meant to move in many directions, and you can identify them by their ability to move amongst multiple planes of motion. Mobility joints include the ankles, hips, thoracic spine, shoulder, wrist, and upper cervical spine. The thoracic spine, the T1–T12 vertebrae, runs along the chest. The upper cervical spine runs from there to C1–C2, closest to the skull. 

Mobilizing Exercises

Mobility exercises take joints and their surrounding tissues through a series of movements designed to increase range of motion. These exercises focus on reducing feelings like stiffness, soreness, or limited movement. When working to optimize mobility, you shouldn’t just focus on the joint bothering you, but also the ones above and below it. Performing exercises for all limits straining the kinetic chain.

Focus on Stability

While mobility focuses on the movement of a joint, stability focuses on the ability to control it. Stability relies on careful control of both surrounding tissues and the neuromuscular system to maintain a joint’s control.

Stabilizing Joints

Unlike mobile joints, stability joints ensure reliability during movements. These joints often only move in one direction and are prone to dislocations and ligament tears, among other serious injuries, when not strengthened with stability. Stability joints include the knees, pelvis, lower spine, shoulder blades, elbow, and lower cervical spine. The lower spine refers to the lumbar and sacral components, L1–L5 and S1–S5, and the lower cervical spine refers to C3–C7, which are the lower portions of the spine that compose the neck.

Stabilizing Exercises

Stability exercises train the brain and body to work in concert, activating the right muscles at the right time for a given movement. You’ll often hear exercises like these described as working your stabilizer or “smaller” muscles. Most of these movements involve muscles of the abdominals, back, hips, and glutes. Core strength is vital for performing any activity correctly. Often, stability exercises can also be classified as mobility exercises because core exercises designed for activation will involve improving both. 

Importance of Joints Performing Their Designed Roles

If you don’t have the mobility you want, your body will go either upstream or downstream to find it. With the strength of bigger muscles moving to smaller joints, it only makes sense that injuries are common. Often, we prioritize stability over mobility to prevent injury. This focus on safety can limit our mobility. Athletes are notoriously good at this compensating mechanism, meaning that many will never realize the lack of either mobility or stability at a joint until it’s too late.

How to Perfect the Kinematic Sequence

One of the simplest ways to ensure every part of your body is ready for your next workout or activity is by having an evaluation performed by a certified fitness specialist. Joint mobility and stability screens are a necessary prerequisite to optimal performance. 

Visit Stretch Affect for an examination that helps classify your movements on a more physiological level. Improve your game, stamina, workout. golf, bike, and more. Contact us today at (619) 389-3718 to schedule your first Stretch Affect session.

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