Improving Training Performance

The greatest improvement in our training performance may be in our preparation for training and attitude towards training. Perhaps we may arrive straight from work…

The greatest improvement in our training performance may be in our preparation for training and attitude towards training. Perhaps we may arrive straight from work and our mental processing is still in goal orientated, competitive work mode or perhaps we have squeezed our training into a tight schedule and arrived late, stressed, tense and anxious. All these negative emotions will be expressed in our body and tend to lead to rigidity, increased muscle tension in specific muscle groups and associated soft tissues. In turn this may affect our movement and flexibility. So, if I may, here are some suggestions and tips that may contribute to improving your training performance. Try them out and see what works for you.

  • Take a few moments to enter a calm frame of mind before training. A few moments of meditation, consciously scanning through your body mindfully, become aware of where you are holding tension and consciously let go of that tension. For example, my sport is open water swimming and the sessions are early just when the sun is rising over the horizon. I take a few moments to say a pray and try to fill my heart with gratitude before I enter the water. It helps me create a relationship with the natural environment and rather than seeing the water as the enemy, an obstacle to overcome with effort, it becomes my friend, I aim to glide through the water as effortlessly as possible rather than power through the water trying to overcome the resistance and fight against the elements. I try to relax while at the same time producing physical effort. This attitude naturally leads on to the second tip, good technique.
  • We can only get so far by trying harder. Eventually we will hit a brick wall imposed by our physiological limitations. Trying harder also has the risk of increased injury and can be stressful and frustrating. However, by giving ourselves up we concentrate on technique and, through technique we move the wall, raise the bar of what is possible for us. What seemed impossible before, in time, becomes achievable. The very best sports people make their sport look easy as they have perfected technique, and their work effort is used to maximum affect
  • A word about technique. Technique is based on efficient movement patterns appropriate to your activity. These movement patterns should first be learnt a low resistance levels, so the neurological framework is acquired before we start to add strength, speed, and power. We call this Neuro Muscular Integration. Prior to starting your training go through some of the movement patterns gently. It`s like switching on your commuter and opening the programmesyou need to use for the task you are doing. Neuro muscular Integration exercises as part of your warmup activates these memorised programmes and stimulates muscle group patterns that you need to stabilise your body frame and generate movement. These are especially important if you have a sedentary job where you have been sitting down all day. You need to wake your body`s movement patterns up and tonify your muscle groups before starting your training routine.
  • Stretching is naturally included in the Neuro Muscular Integration Exercises as part of the warmup. This is kind of like a functional stretching. Stretching to work on increasing range of motion should be done at the end of your training especially if you have been doing repetitive exercises to work out stiffness and tightness that may have crept in and while your muscles are warm, they are more malleable and therefore it is easy to do effective stretching working into the fascia as well as the muscles.
  • Rest is fundamental, make sure that it is part of your training schedule and never train if you are still sore or hurting from the previous training session. Be patient and the results will come.
  • Cross training. I am a swimmer. However, for my overall health and well-being I need to do some sessions in the gym. Swimming is non weight bearing, yet the biggest challenge to our body over time is the force of gravity bearing down on us, one might say crushing us into a hobbled old age, unless we do something about it. I need to go to the gym to do some work against gravity to keep my anti gravitational muscles in shape. Most sporting activities tend to emphasis certain muscle groups over others. Take cycling for example. So, it is important to cross train to work on our other muscles that give support and general sound structure to our body, otherwise we get muscles imbalances that may lead to tightness, stiffness, and compensation in our body. Compensation is a precursor to many Musculo – skeletal problems.
  • Needless to say, make sure that you are well hydrated and plan you meals so that you have energy ready for training.
  • Finally take your age into consideration, the older you are the more slowly you should increase your workload and develop your training. It`s like taking smaller steps to get to where you want. Be patient and disciplined.

For more specific advice, here at SOHO Physiotherapy we are happy to give free ZOOM consultations to help you with any questions or issues you may have or design any Neuro muscular Integration Exercises appropriate to your activity.

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