IS YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM BORED?
The short consensus is, probably. But it's not why you might think.
The Law of Accommodation states that if we perform the same stimulus over and over again, that the stimulus becomes less of a signal for change (Adaptation).
Meaning, there are less ways to accomplish performance outcomes, so the athlete becomes stagnant or trapped in certain behaviors.
There is a lack of information and possibly a misunderstanding of this law in the realm of training for sports. For this reason, information on how to mitigate the effects of accommodation are solely the manipulation of weight training variables.
Coaches advise that the changing of the volume or intensity of a lift or changing the exercise all together will avoid accommodation. Traditional thinking suggests that by varying the exercise the body has to undergo an adaptation sufficient to effect change and avoid stagnation.
This simplistic view seems to be the main driver of different types of periodization in development programs and is misguided concerning the understanding of accommodation in performance.
A change in perspective is needed.
Simply changing exercises or volume or intensities but not changing the biological system itself is too broad an application to effectively push adaptation while minimizing performance deficits.
Secondly, accommodation is not a plateau in training or performance as it is typically understood.
Plateaus in training or performance are the result of stagnation of the nervous system and its representation of performance.
Changing the exercise provides a quick distraction to the nervous system but the true reason for performance stagnation remains.
In general, there are smaller and smaller ecological niches' that all have inter-relationships. This will influence the larger ecosystems as a whole. Using this lens, we must again discuss the internal vs external training environment.
One ecosystem, the internal environment, has numerous specific niches' that underpin the function of the system as a whole. Tissue quality, size, stiffness, available joint range of motion etc. are all specific internal areas that will determine training adaptation and continued success of the athlete.
Another ecosystem is the external environment. This includes the performance of a lift or sporting environment that the athlete must train in.
It is important to state there is no single optimum state, only multiple tissues with specific capacities at the internal level which interact to produce movement in the external environment
This allows the ecosystem to have multiple feedbacks to modify behavior making it more adaptable under varying contexts over longer periods of time.
Traditional understanding of accommodation is observed when performance has diminished or plateaued. However this understanding is from only the external ecological perspective.
This totally disregards the internal system where all of the complexity is occurring and where accommodation is actually taking effect.
This gets us to the point and allows us to make two very important statements concerning accommodation.
1. Accommodation does not occur in the external system. This peformance decrease is the result of neurological stagnation
2. Accommodation only occurs in the internal system. If external stagnation is witnessed, it is a definite sign that the internal system is breaking down.
Accommodation will have started long before a performance decline and will consist of many internal signs that are missed and not even assessed for.
The internal system is the primary measure of musculoskeletal output.
This is evident in the shoulders of baseball pitches when performance output changes occur, like velocity or control decreases. This is stagnation.
It is witnessed externally but always associated with internal system change.
There is a great deal of evidence that this is due to internal joint health and function are undergoing the process of degradation. ie. lack of shoulder rotation, lack of elbow rotation and lack of hip rotation.
training to avoid accommodation
With the ecological lens, we can divide training into two different ecosystems, internally using internal strength methods and externally using external strength methods.
This allows the athlete to succeed in each environment and that success is cumulative across each environment.
Training is used as the means to drive multiple feedbacks in both ecosystems but more importantly, between ecosystems.
By understanding the interplay of the internal and external environment and the multitude of inter-related connections between them allows for more complex behavior with less probability of performance stagnation.
The motive of training should be to build an internal system that will be resilient enough to weather the shocks of the external system.
This is the importance of internal training and its rise in minimizing the effects of accommodation.