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.
It is possible to train the stretch-shortening cycle of Serape Effect musculature. Performing ballistic rotational exercises, such as med ball throws, are great for developing the type of power that will translate into forceful throws and swings. With cables or bands, you can do rotational chops or punches. These are only a few examples, but there are a variety of rotational exercises that can be utilized to increase power in the transverse plane.
How Can I Learn to Utilize The Serape Effect?
Great question! The only tried and true way to do this is to get a thorough assessment performed by a trained professional. Similar to having your blood pressure taken or getting regular blood work done at the doctor’s office, certified health professionals can regularly assess your musculoskeletal system and movement patterns to ensure they are within optimum ranges. That’s where Aviator Sports Performance & Rehabilitation comes in!
Aviator Sports Performance and Rehabilitation is deeply rooted in the scientific study of human movement and the innovative integration of technology into practice, ultimately aiming to help patients, athletes/clients in maintaining healthy, fit lifestyles, reduce injury risk, and achieve higher levels of sports performance. Our highly trained staff (Composed of Doctors of Physical Therapy, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialists & Biomechanic Specialists) & state-of-the-art movement screening services can help identify any significant abnormal movement patterns or strength limitations present, and work to provide our clients with a fully customized corrective action plan to mitigate injury risk and help improve performance.
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