The fastest baseball pitch ever thrown was clocked at 105.1 mph. The fastest tennis serve ever recorded was 157.2 mph. The farthest anyone has ever thrown a javelin is 343 ft 9.75 in., and the farthest anyone has ever thrown a shot put is 75 ft 10.23 in. These may seem like superhuman feats, so how is this possible? The answer lies in a function of the body you may not even be aware of, the Serape Effect.
What Is The Serape Effect?
The Serape Effect refers to the diagonal arrangement of muscles that wrap around the torso, from the shoulders to the hips. It gets the name "serape" from a garment worn in Mexico and other parts of Latin America that crosses the body in a similar fashion. This group of muscles includes the rhomboids, serratus anterior, external obliques, and internal obliques. Together, these muscles wrap around the back of the body and form an “x” shape around the front of the body. This musculature is designed to link the left shoulder to the right hip, and vise versa.
The Serape Effect Explained
To help visualize this concept, think about trying to throw a ball as fast as possible. As you raise your arm back, your hip on the opposite side comes forward. Essentially, what you are doing is winding up the body and stretching the muscles responsible for the
movement. This allows you to generate maximum power by putting your entire body into the throw, as opposed to keeping the body steady and throwing the ball with your arm, which puts a lot less mass behind the movement because it involves fewer muscles.
The Stretch Reflex
This generation of force by the Serape Effect can be attributed to the stretch-shortening cycle, or the “stretch reflex”. This refers to the rebound effect a muscle has after being stretched. Lengthening the muscle will provide a greater distance for power to be generated, but the key is speed. The faster you stretch and shorten the muscle, the more power you are capable of generating. This is why you will be able to jump higher by doing a countermovement squat jump rather than jumping from a static squat position.
How Does The Serape Effect Apply To Sport?
The Serape Effect is a key movement in a number of sports, from a volleyball serve or a baseball swing to a punch or a kick. This is why it’s so important to train in the transverse plane by using rotational movements that twist the body. Many training programs ignore these movements, leaving you unprepared to deliver power in the transverse plane and failing to meet the specific rotational demands of your sport.