As health professionals, we are constantly asked about our opinions on the latest products and techniques to improve athlete preparation, performance and recovery. The simple answer to these questions is that the most effective thing you can do to maximise your performance occurs well before you step foot onto the field, court, track, stage or pool and goes back to the old saying: “proper preparation prevents poor performance”. We can conceptualise this as a game of percentages, with 100% being your optimal performance level. Adding in new performance aids or recovery tools usually contribute somewhere between 1-5% depending on what the research says regarding their effectiveness. Now this can be supremely useful if your preparation is sitting at 90%, but these 1% increments don’t mean a whole lot when the other 99% is sub-optimal. This is particularly important when you consider the financial cost of some of these products, you owe it to yourself (and your wallet) to make sure you’re getting your time and money’s worth.
There are no shortcuts to improving performance, it all comes down to your preparation. If you’re wondering what the best approach is for you, always think back to the percentages and ask yourself: “What percentage am I at now?” and “What will get me closer to 100%?”
So what makes up an optimal preparation? Well from a sports perspective there are two key components that make up a good preparation: (1) sport specific training and (2) the physical preparation (e.g. strength, stability and flexibility). You can think of these concepts like a racing car: sports specific training is the knowledge the driver has of the track, whereas the physical preparation is the tuning that goes into making the car run optimally. The fastest car in the world is still going to be limited if put in the hands of a driver who doesn’t understand the requirements of the course, and likewise knowing the course back to front won’t compensate for a poorly tuned car. The physical preparation (the ‘tuning’ of the car) is what we specialise in at Functional Health.
We use our specifically designed exercise equipment to target the key muscles that contribute to stabilising the body (‘the core’) to develop a stable base. We build on this by adding in the important muscle groups that are responsible for developing strength and power which are fundamental to sports performance. Finally we focus on improving and maintaining adequate range of motion (flexibility) through the joints of the body to maximise movement. Couple this with the expert knowledge of our team of Exercise Physiologists and Physiotherapists who have insight into numerous sports, and you have a program that is individually tailored to optimising your preparation, and as a result, performance. Not only has research shown this approach to improve performance, but it also reduces the rates of injuries and time away from sport. Again consider our racing car: a car that is routinely looked after and tuned up is far less likely to break down. It is the exact same concept when it comes to injury prevention. Keeping adequate stability, strength and flexibility (especially over the course of a long season) is vital to preventing injury.
The obvious requirement of this approach is time: you have to put the time in to get the results. Often new recovery and performance enhancement techniques promise a ‘quick fix’ or reduced time commitment. This is something to be wary of: often things that are quick to help, are also short lived. For long-term performance, you need a long-term strategy, and this is where we at Functional Health come in. Our long-term strategy looks something like this: