Charlie Weingroff: High Threshold Strategy

High threshold strategies are necessary . . . but when? Charlie Weingroff discusses the issues that can result from incorrectly bracing for strength.

You heard me mention this topic a little bit: High Threshold Strategy.

We go into safe mode when we are in pain. A lot of times, you’re in safe mode when you’re not in pain.

We asked before, “Am I a bracing guy or am I a draw-in guy?” I don’t really look at it like that.

What I will say, is that if you brace when you don’t need to brace, you will be in a high threshold strategy. You have this change of joint centration – that can be from Janda’s upper and lower-crossed syndromes. If you live in a protective posture, but now your pain is gone, the inflammation has subsided, the lesion has healed . . . you might still remember safe mode. The computer turns back on okay, the power is fine, but you’re still in a high threshold strategy where mobilizers are acting as stabilizers, stabilizers aren’t doing what they are supposed to do and you still may need correction to stave off future pain or deliver great performance (and durability for people who have general fitness goals.)

But when I go back to the topic of bracing, I shouldn’t have to brace really hard to raise my arm. It should be natural and reflexive. I don’t ever use the cue, “Make your abs really, really tight.” Okay, very rarely. I imagine there are times that I do use it. But I don’t want that person to use a high threshold strategy when they don’t need it.

When they go into plank, I want them to hold the plank the right way. I don’t want them to actually try to do it. If they have to really try that hard, the plank might not be the right place. Maybe they need to have their arms elevated in the plank. Maybe they need to have their knees on the floor in the plank to have the outer core support the inner core properly. I don’t want the outer core to override the inner core. I’d probably rather have the opposite.

Let me explain this in a different way. Level 1 isn’t working . . .that’s our multifidis, that’s our inner core. There’s and inefficiency and it’s turning on too late. Because it’s not operating optimally, the erectors, our bracing muscles, turn on to take over Level 1.

But when you need Level 1 and you go back to that tree and it’s really windy . . . you don’t have it. It could mean injury or it could mean poor performance. Because if you really want to deliver a strong lift, you do need the outer core. But if it’s acting as the inner core and doing it’s job, this is what happens: Somebody’s lazy, somebody’s going to pick up the slack and somebody’s going to get hurt.

That’s an example of how to understand the high threshold strategy.

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