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C. L. Nicodemus
07-08-1997, 01:48 AM
One variable has been overlooked in the discussion thus far. That is the
issue of the mental effect. Mechanically, muscle tears when it has been
stressed beyond its so-called physiological limits, which varies with
individuals. When the edge of this limit is approached, it is announced
with pain and other discomfort that signal the potential for damage. Why
does one athelete continue with the effort and tear the muscle and one stop
short of tearing the muscle? The mind can so strongly effect performance as
to render any attempt at modeling or predicting injury moot. Muscle fiber
recruitment, hormonal enhancement and pain conditioning all serve as
modulators of performance; many times they make the difference between a
world class performer and the average person. Desire, committment and
intensity are very difficult to model.

My answer to the posed question about when the most likely time for a tear
is that it will occur when the mind must override injury potential signals,
probably on the 10th rep when the muscle is fatigued and perhaps
overstressed. This combination of conditions usually does not exist at the
beginning of an exercise or at the beginning of the game. Muscle tears, it
seems, are often considered a small price to pay for the euphoria of
winning. Its a mental exercise.

Stating this another way, if the mental effect is somehow to be considered
"neutral" in this situation, that is, not involved in a drive to "win" or
achieve a difficult goal (even completion of 10 reps), then the muscle will
not tear. The exerciser will not push beyond the point of overload and
injury.

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Clarence L. "Nic" Nicodemus, PhD, ND

Director of Spine Research
Department of Orthopaedics
University of Texas Medical Branch
Jennie Sealy Hospital, Room 620
301 University Blvd

Galveston, TX 77555-0456

(409) 747-0248 vox
(409) 772-0751 fax

nic.nicodemus@utmb.edu

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