When it comes to improving performance for the gym, sport, or even life, there are two main concerns. One is to prevent injury and the other is to continue to improve performance in our given activity. People need to realize that we are always “training” in life. Life is busy whether it is on the field, at the gym, or at home. This means you do not have a chance to “feel the pain of tissue injury” until it becomes bad enough to stop us from moving and performing. Why would that be?
Movement and pain use the same nerve pathways. Athletes are said to “play through the pain” because they often don’t feel it until after the gym and/or until movement stops at the end of their day. This is important because the body keeps perfect score of every trauma endured during one’s lifetime.
So how do we improve performance? You need to work on how you move and what you put in your body to help you perform better.
Let’s take a look at movement first. It is said that movement never lies. When looking to improve movement, looking at posture first avoids pain by altering our posture and then adjusting our movement. We look at how you move through some basic patterns such as an overhead squat, hip hinge, push up, trunk stability, jump test, and upper/lower muscle firing patterns. We can see where muscles are overactive and others are weak. We can then identify those muscles that need to be stretched and others that need to be activated.
Next, analyze your nutrition. With nutrition, think about maximizing fuel and minimizing trauma to optimize recovery. Then investigate areas that might be limiting your performance, such as hormone imbalances. All of these areas are important for optimal performance and any one of these can limit you in your chosen activity.
A third area to address is to be to be mindful of the 3 phases of treatment and support for injuries. Phase one is managing pain and resolving inflammation. We do not want to eliminate inflammation as that is how we heal – taking an anti-inflammatory medicine will slow and even stop healing of an injury. Phase two is heading into the repair stage of healing. This starts about four days after the injury and lasts about eight weeks. This is when we work with the inflammation, the tissue, and improve the movement of the injured area. In Phase Three, we want to optimize tissue healing while we support/prevent re-injury.
We then need to look at the goals a person has for themselves. Are the goals geared to gain muscle, lose weight, or move better for the given activity? We use the In-Body BIA machine which gives vital information to guide you towards your goals. It measures fat percentage, lean body mass, fluid in and outside of the cell (hydration and inflammation), and phase angle (the health of the cell). It should be done on everyone who wants to really improve their performance.
Finally, we look at the wellness and ongoing care of a person through nutrition and supplementation. Things like collagen, fish oil, a multivitamin (90% of people are deficient in at least one essential nutrient), BCAA creatine, and glutamine – all of these can be helpful in aiding in performance. In addition, I also look to resolve inflammation, improve energy, sleep better, and increase testosterone.
If you are looking to take your performance to the next level, start with these simple things that can make a dramatic change in your life. As always, reach out with questions to us so we can help you live your best life.
–Dr. Brian Opp D.C.