Stiffness is often viewed as limited or decreased flexibility, particularly in the joints and muscles. While this type of stiffness is a reality, if we think of stiffness in simple physics terms, it is the extent to which a structure resists deformation in response to an applied force.
That second definition is the one we are most concerned with when training the Lifetime Athlete. The ability to stiffen the body, or a limb, or a segment at just the right time…allows us to transmit maximal force and not crumble in its presence.
Of course we need to be mobile, but we also have to be stable. This combination is how we own shape, position, and movement with our bodies. Stiffness is the key to athleticism. When you think of viscoelasticity, the viscous nature in our bodies is the squishy, adaptive, absorptive component. Elasticity depends upon energy return, and the ability to temporarily become a steel rod is critical. This point is quite misunderstood and often overlooked by many folks who are trying to improve their performance.
If you want to go faster, jump higher, throw harder, and win…you need stiffness. You can learn more about this important characteristic in Episode 180 of The Lifetime Athlete Podcast, The Value of Athletic Stiffness. You can find the show on all the major podcast players, wherever you prefer to listen to your programming.