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by Thomas Kurz
When I asked questions in that post, I hoped for answers closely tying the sign (symptom) to the training advice (prescription). Many commenters were close and their advice was correct in general, but none used the sign itself to direct training. In the text below, the parts in bold type are my answers to those questions. The rest are just “whys.”
Tripod position: the symptom
Economic breathing is achieved primarily by the diaphragm, intercostals, and sternocostalis–the primary respiratory muscles. Other muscles of the trunk, neck, and shoulder girdle act as accessory respiratory muscles and help the primary muscles, but not so much as to impair their main functions as, for example, stabilizers of the trunk, neck, and shoulder blades.
Assuming the tripod position is a sign that both the primary and accessory respiratory muscles are excessively fatigued–thus in any exercise that follows, the posture will suffer and so will the technique, endurance, strength, and so on.
This position is a sign of either extreme fatigue, which in training should be rare, or of poor planning. So, if an athlete is about to pass out, say, after an all-out finish of a mile race, then this position is excusable. However, during a workout it is a sign of poor planning because:
–frequently exceeding the capacity of the primary respiratory muscles quickly leads to overtraining;
–resting in the tripod position, or while leaning and supporting oneself on some object, wastes an opportunity to exercise all the respiratory muscles (both the primary and the accessory) in the upright “functional” posture; and
–resting in the tripod position (that is, not moving the legs) is harder on the heart than resting while walking.
Upon seeing an athlete resting in this tripod position, a coach should tell the athlete to straighten up and walk until the athlete feels no need to assume this position. Feeling the need to assume the tripod position indicates an excessive effort as well as not being ready for the next effort. Thus the need to assume this position is a tool for regulating exercise intensity.
Further, resting in an upright, functional posture provides an additional training stimulus to help the respiratory muscles get fitter in that posture, which transfers to better overall endurance.
Now a new question: Other than directing endurance training, how can one use the above knowledge about the tripod position in sports such as ball games and martial arts?