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post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Could anyone give me an example (or two) of co-contraction. I've heard the term used many times and have also read its definition. I'm having trouble getting "my arms around it" though : in practical terms.
post #2 of 8
Hi Patprof

In most cases, co-contracting muscles assist prime movers. These muscles are sometimes known as synergists.
post #3 of 8

I found this definition of cocontraction:
"Cocontraction (the simultaneous activation of antagonist muscles around a joint) ..."

PMTS uses this terminology. PSIA has been discussing the same concept under the label "functional tension".

I found an abstract of a study that found that cocontraction helped to improve accuracy of multi joint movements when the target is small.

An example might be the use of both the abdominal muscles and the lower back muscles to stiffen up the core to avoid getting knocked around in variable snow conditions. (hmm - would the joint in this case be the hip joint?) In theory cocontraction should be able to help you make more accurate turns, especially when applied to the ankle and knee joints.

Although the study focused on how and how much cocontraction occurs automatically in response to a given task, in skiing it helps to use this phenomenon on purpose. Personally, I have trouble "thinking" antagonist muscles to fire. The functional tension concept works much better for me as a trigger to get results. Although I'd prefer to use the accepted scientific term in technical discussions, I believe the functional tension term is more helpful to the skiing public. I hope this has been helpful.
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Rusty-thank you for the example!
post #5 of 8
The term is used a lot in sports medicine in Australia. Physio therapy, for instance. When re-habbing, or building some muscle for a purpose (like correcting an imbalance, or to protect something), co-contraction through a movement can build and train the muscle or muscle group.

Basically, you are tensing/activating a particular muscle, while you do something with that part of the body. It might be a muscle that is being over-ridden by another muscle, so you have to actively turn that muscle on, to overcome problems caused by this. Sometimes it takes a while to learn how to isolate and control that particular muscle.
post #6 of 8
Lift the heel, press on the toe. Quads and hamstrings activate.
post #7 of 8
With leg flat on floor or table tension quads and try to drive the backside of your knee down. Your quads are tensioned as are your hamstrings - co-contraction.

post #8 of 8
...and then, try to only tense the *inside* quad muscle to push down the knee! This would be to try to build up that muscle, in cases where the outside quad muscle is dominant (I have this problem).
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