When a person experiences severe pain his body enters some sort of "survival mode" and as a result his flexibility (and strength I seem to remember) is increased. This is demonstrated here by Charles Poliquin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4ZPfOHjYiI

Sadly Poliquin did not explain the details of what is going on here. I have seen this explained by some german physiotherapist but can not find the video anymore.

I wonder if this is the same phenomenon as when powerlifters sniff ammonia before big lifts?

Is adrenaline involved? My theory is that fear and or anger releases adrenaline which causes increased strength and mobility by the nervous system "taking the brakes off".

I think this is related to Hysterical strength?

Can anyone explain this more thoroughly or point me to an explanation?

EDIT: I found the video I talked about again:

Improve Your Squat! Full Mobility Workshop

It is long (82 minutes) but show several demonstrations both illustrating the effect of "fight or flight" as well as how stiffness eg in the neck can reduce power output.

Still no scientific explanations though.

  • This is possibily a physiological phenomenon, but can you explain how it is related to fitness? (I asked the biology mods about a migration but they rejected as probably opinion based, unfortunately.)
    – JohnP
    Feb 7, 2019 at 13:35
  • It could help eg. explain what happens when one stretch. Even more relevant is the flip side of this coin: if you have stiffness e.g in the neck whilst doing a squat your nervous system will put the brakes on even more and will reduce your power.
    – Andy
    Feb 7, 2019 at 13:44
  • An attempt at humor: those of us adverse to mobility training can now smell ammonia before doing full ROM eccentric stretching. Except we will call it something else than stretching.
    – Andy
    Feb 7, 2019 at 13:53


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