Daily Mobility Exercises by Dr. Kelly Starrett Forums General KStar on Avatar bow string position

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    • #70355

      Kelly bashes on Avatars portrayal of how to pull a bow string. I get that they aren’t using external rotation, which keeps them from attaining a stable position. But what I don’t get is why they would do it that way then? Also, I noticed that this exact same movement is done when volleyball players go up to spike. They bring their arm up, internally rotate it, until they get their elbow all the way up and back behind their head. Only then do they start to attack the ball with their arm, and then the external rotation occurs.

      If Kelly is correct in stating that this method for pulling the bow string is wrong, then I feel that this method for getting your arm up into a hitting position in volleyball is also wrong. So how else would Kelly recommend that volleyball players prep their attack swing? Here’s a video that shows the position I’m talking about. 
      You can pause at around the 4 second mark in this video to see what I’m talking about. Indoor volleyball players do the same thing.
      This one is a pretty dramatic internal rotation @ about the 27 second mark:
      Here’s one in slow motion – internal rotation on the way up and back . External on the way forward:
      The only argument I could see is that the power and stability in the volleyball movement isn’t needed until after this internal rotation phase.Although pulling back the kind of bow shown in Avatar wouldn’t take as much power and stability as it would a 6′ long bow from the middle ages, where stable positioning would have a significant impact on performance. But that brings to light the question – could indigenous people that draw their bow string this way have a reason for it? A reason that may rely on not needing as much power and stability while also having a subsequent option after releasing their bow string. Such as then grabbing another weapon, like a hatchet that’s strapped to their back, and throw it- which would be a similar motion to the volleyball attack.
      Lastly – And I could be completely wrong on my understanding –  For some reason I thought Kelly has mentioned that during a snatch, your back foot should actually be internally rotated in order to be in a stable position. In general, internal rotation works well in extension. Maybe I never grasped this well through all of Kelly’s video’s, but I thought having the arm behind the body would be extension, and thus make this internal rotation appropriate? Is extension only when the arm stays below the shoulder joint? Just for some food for thought as well, are there any movements or que’s in swimming that have their athlete put their arm into an internally rotated position when their arm is above their shoulder?
    • #72455

      I think you’ve hit on the answer already in terms of where the force is generated.  Any wind up for an overhead strike or throwing motion or, even a dumbbell snatch will travel through that internal rotation zone because it is the most efficient path, but then end up in a solid externally rotated position when the main force generation from the joint occurs.  

      The reason the bow is a fault is because the force generation portion of the movement is drawing the bow back.No coach would ever tell you to pause and hold in the internally rotated portion of a snatch because it is likely to cause injury.  When the Avatars draw their bows they are doing exactly that.  It would also make them more vulnerable to a side attack in a war type situation because they are blocking their vision and their arm is basically useless for any type of blocking when it’s all wound up. Your hatchet idea is intriguing though.  I guess the real question is, do any native groups actually draw a bow in that position?
      My best guess for why they did it in the movie was to illustrate how the avatar people are so much like humans, yet so different.  Since they are imaginary people in an imaginary world, it is entirely possible that they have biologically different shoulder joints and internal rotation is super stable 😛
      I think you are correct on the external rotation in extension for the back foot on the snatch.   Strict extension of the arm is straight back from anatomical neutral, so yes it would stay below the shoulder.  Forward is flexion, and to the side is lateral flexion.  It gets a bit fuzzy when people start crossing the definitions of extension in terms of joints with extension in the general vernacular which just means moving outward from a central location.  So you can have your arms ‘extended above your head’ but technically your shoulder joint is in flexion.  
      There are internal rotations overhead in almost every front swimming stroke (disclaimer I am not a swimmer).  E.g. Front crawl: you draw your arm out of the water internally rotated, elbow first and extend the arm in the externally rotated position so that you cut the surface of the water more efficiently with the side of your hand.  Similar to a volleyball strike, the hand rotates back to neutral or slight external rotation for max pulling of water.  My understanding is that often swimmers who specialize in a front stroke don’t always rotate back properly which is why they often end up with rounded swimmer’s shoulders (muscle imbalance would contribute to this as well).
      Fun discussion!  Thanks, Thor!
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