Putting Force into Tissue

Understanding the language of the human body


Approximate Reading Time: 6-10min

By Kinesiologist Renzo Carbonel (@renzo.jc)


Humans have developed intricate methods of inter-personal communication; we speak, gesticulate, laugh, pose, and move, all to convey some information or sentiment. Essentially, we perceive these different communications in terms of signals. Each signal carries a meaning, and we interpret these signals in order to deduce the content of another person’s expressions. We also know that our body communicates its physical needs to us using an altogether different set of signals, such as hunger, thirst, pain, or tiredness. But we should be careful not to overlook a particularly important route of communication—the one by which we communicate to our body.


Hiking the Chief - photo credit: Ngaio H.  @creeks.and.peaks

Hiking the Chief - photo credit: Ngaio H. @creeks.and.peaks

From a physical standpoint, our bodies only understand one kind of signal: force transmitted into tissue. Of course, there is a multitude of hormonal and chemical signals that our cells process, but speaking purely in terms of physical movement, our bodies speak the language of force. It is by way of generating and absorbing forces that we ask our bodies to complete movement-related tasks, and it is in bringing our awareness to this process that we can come to an in-depth understanding of how our bodies function.


The principle behind our body’s adaptation process is that of specificity: the body seeks to optimize itself for those tasks we commonly undertake. More simply put: we get good at what we do most often. Through the law of Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands (SAID), the body literally remodels itself to better perform the tasks we ask of it. Strongmen build incredible bone density to be able to bear the enormous loads they manipulate; sprinters develop high levels of elasticity in their tissues in order to more efficiently propel themselves forward; and dancers exhibit unparalleled control of their limbs in extreme ranges of motion; and although each type of athlete experiences high levels of force passing through their tissues, each one develops a radically different set of adaptations. Of course, we cannot ignore the role of genetics in a person’s physical development, but in terms of function, the details of our loading patterns play a large role in dictating how our bodies will adapt.


At the root of this language of forces, there are four main variables: amount of force, time under tension, rate of contraction, and tissue length. These factors are interconnected, but the art of an intelligent training program is that we can choose to focus on one category without ignoring the others. In practice, this means we are not bound by the limits of any one training style. Instead, we can keep in mind the principle of putting force into tissue with the aforementioned variables to choose any combination of training styles to suit our preference. 


Vaulting in Restore Human - photo credit: Tianna B.

Vaulting in Restore Human - photo credit: Tianna B.

These are the building blocks behind our approach. We design every session with the purpose of exposing people to a wide variety of challenging and constantly varied forces that will elicit favourable adaptations to their physical and mental states. A person that is able to withstand this array of physical tasks while displaying strength, grace, and resilience is, in our eyes, harder to kill.


By Kinesiologist Renzo Carbonel (@renzo.jc)

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