What’s the most important physical characteristic for you to excel in your favorite sports? Strength, Endurance, Agility, Speed, Balance, Acceleration? Something else? Fact is whether you are a leisure runner, Bolshoi ballerina, tennis professional or a weekend golfer, your body alignment underlies every aspect of your performance. To be good at your sport, you've been told to focus on your form – your form is your postural mechanics.
Imagine if all your muscle fibers were only controlled in an ON/OFF mode. Nobody would want to shake your hand and your house would surely be trashed. Your total strength comes from total muscle mass, the number of muscle cells available to be recruited. Each muscle is divided into sub groups that are separately controlled by the brain to give you fine control so you can be gentle and not break things. That part is consciously controlled, but when it comes to your maximum muscle recruitment for strength, the brain automatically engages in a subconscious routine that checks with every tendon, ligament, joint surface and more to ensure that you do not overwhelm your own body with your raw muscle power. The highest purpose of your brain is to protect your body, so while you may physically have enough muscle power to lift the back end of your car, your brain won’t let you apply full power if it senses that you may instead tear your body apart. The genius design of our bodies is that we have a reservoir of adrenaline that can be released in a split second that overrides caution and enables full strength, but that is also predominantly a subconscious process. Conscious strength is highly dependent on body alignment.
Agility and Balance
Remember what happened if you ever attempted to balance on the railway track? You became all spastic, wobbling from side to side before falling off the track. Doing a high wire act requires you to relax. Why? On a wire, you’ll be off balance so the brain, at furious speed, is anticipating your fall and firing the muscles driving you in the opposite direction. Since every muscle in the body has an antagonist muscle pulling in the opposite direction, you can easily imagine what happens when all of them fire at the same time. The very definition of agility is fluid like motion, but if both muscles fire simultaneously the result is spastic movements, lost balance and agility. The only differentiation between you attempting the high wire or standing and walking with an unbalanced posture is the magnitude of your muscle response.
Acceleration and Speed
For years athletic coaches believed strength training, building muscle mass, was the answer to higher speed, but that is just partially true. Speed requires acceleration, requiring you to turn on every muscle fast with full power just like you'd floor the throttle on your car. Being out of alignment is like a restriction on your throttle preventing full power even for just a short duration, so as with strength the ability to recruit muscles full power is key. Aligning your body becomes the equivalent of removing the restriction on your throttle.