What is “Feed forward mechnizm”?
Australian researchers (1988) discovered that the smaller, inner, stabilizer muscles, those closer to the spine, in a healthy person, are firing 30-50 milliseconds before arm movement and 110-130 milliseconds before leg movement.
This activation meant to stabilize the spine and alleviate stresses from the spine, and at the same time to allow the stable spine to provide a base from which the bigger, outer muscles can generate more force and be more effective.
This research is what started the “core” craze in the fitness industry.
In karate we understand this sequence and teach people how to move this way for many generation. This knowledge resulted from experience without high tech.
Both karate, sport research and physical therapy professionals can learn from each other.
I incorporate many physical therapy exercises to enhance people “feed forward” function, and moving out of optimal postures. No one can teach a person how to move from the center out and integrating the whole body to one direction as a good karate teacher.
In karate we talk about moving from the center, but if this center is not stable, we cannot drive a strong technique from the center, and the tendency will be to use top power.
Sensei Nishiyama explained, imagination that inside technique already finish, than breathing activate the inside muscles direction of technique, than muscles around spine move and in a ripple effect, outer muscles join and than extremities (technique).
The research shows that in people with back pain this activation is delayed, in other words, the spinal activation starts after the arm or leg movement, and therefore the spine is not stable against the forces created by those movements.
How can one move from the center if the center is not stable and cannot provide a foundation for movement.
This inner muscle activation does not need to be strong, and actually a too rigid torso wills interfere with performance.
This activation is movement specific, and being successful in lying positions on the floor does not carry over to pushing, pulling and rotation standing.
Many people with strong abdominals still have back pains since it is not the strength but rather sequence of activation that is important.
One of the reasons we lose this activation is bad posture, in which the inner, small, slow twitch muscles begin to act as fast twitch muscles, which are not suited for stability tasks.
In karate many generations ago, before we had high tech, we said, “Inside body moves first, than technique.”
This of course is hard to explain in writing and has to be demonstrated, and it was one of the main subjects of training in Sensei Nishiyama last 2 years of teaching.