Tissue Health & Adaptive Stress in Firearms Training

Posted on Posted in blog, Fitness

For an organism to function normally and effectively, it is necessary that the biochemical processes of its tissues operate smoothly and conjointly in a stable setting. The endocrine system provides an essential mechanism called homeostasis that integrates body activities and at the same time ensures that the composition of the body fluids at the tissue level remains constant. However, high stress, even adaptive stress can produce biochemical changes – thus changing the environment for this equilibrium to be maintained.

Changes in the relative level of physical stress cause a predictable adaptive response in all biological tissue; which can result in adhesions, stiffness, higher risk of injury and reduced performance through movement compensation. Our bones are meant to float in our body; and when we consider tissue management, we need to also be reminded that there are 4 layers of tissue that combine to form organs, yet tissue health is often overlooked.

The 4 fundamental types of tissue are: (1) epithelial tissue, which covers internal and external surfaces of the body and forms glands, (2) connective tissue, which provides structural and functional support to other tissues of the body, a well as are the communication highway for hydration, neurological stimulus and is the third top communicator in the body (3) muscular tissue, which has specialized contractile properties for producing movement and power output and (4) nervous tissue, which collects, transmits, and integrates stimuli to control the functions of the body in association with the connective tissue. Direct and Indirect Tissue Damage Even simple day to day actions of one’s profession (that most people wouldn’t regard as injury producing) can lead to a buildup of stiff tissue, adhesions and possible fibrotic, scar tissue; and most often, compensation occurs under the surface, slowly. Many factors produce mechanical injuries or trauma and can be classified as direct or indirect. Direct trauma occurs when you tear an ACL or dislocate a shoulder – structural and instantaneous. Indirect trauma occurs over time from repetitive use or one joint not functioning as smoothly as it should. The chronic stress that modern age people feel from simply trying to deal with the daily pressures of modern life can unleash a flood of hormones that are useful in the short term but subtly toxic if they persist and when paired with repetitive overuse, tissue can indirectly become damaged.

How Does Stress Affect Tissue Adhesions are small bits of scar tissue that bind the tissues around them, leading to stiffness and a reduction in strength and range of motion. Nerves often become trapped in these adhesions, creating “trigger points” from which stiffness and even pain can radiate. Stiff movements lead to less accuracy and reduced range of motion. Because adhesions and scar tissue have less circulation and are less flexible and elastic than normal muscle tissue, this can cause muscles to become shorter and weaker over time, as well as degrade the optimal functioning of neighboring joints. For example: Firearms Training Last week Matt, Powell; owner of Pramek Systems and Mission Specific Systems discussed the importance of understanding mechanical backlash when moving with a pistol. He asks, can it make you slower or faster in transitions?

Mechanical Backlash –“ is clearance or lost motion in a mechanism(person) caused by gaps between the parts (joint or tissue dysfunction).

It can be defined as “the maximum distance or angle through which any part of a mechanical system (human structure) may be moved in one direction without applying appreciable force or motion to the next part in mechanical sequence.”

photo courtesy of Scientific Training.net
photo courtesy of Scientific Training.net

When factoring in tissue health, mechanical backlash cannot be achieved optimally if the integrity of the tissue or joint health is compromised. As a movement coach, I factor in two key areas of importance (1) Movement Compensation (2) Endocrine Response to repetitive stress.

  1. Movement Compensation

Movement quality is not determined by movement quantity. Fundamental considerations for shooting require a good stance, breath control, sight alignment, grip strength, trigger pull and follow through and these are merely the physical qualities. Injuries relate closely to proper joint function, or more respectfully, to joint dysfunction. Problems at one joint usually show up as pain in the joint above or below and most often when there is significant movement restriction we see changes in breath control, stance and rotational range, grip strength and this psychosomatically links to follow through. The process is simple: Lose ankle mobility, you may get knee pain Lose hip mobility, you may get low back pain Lose thoracic mobility, you may get neck and shoulder pain, or low back pain Lose shoulder mobility or scapular stability, you may get elbow pain Tissue health is just as important as the health of your muscles and your movements. Be prepared for longevity and ensure you have self management tools to ensure optimal functioning. Next week I will address point #2 – The Endocrine System’s response to repetitive stress.

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