Move Better – Feel Better – Train Better – Recover Better – Perform Better
When we think of a physical “performance”, we often picture physical displays such as a high-score, a series of skilled movements, a heavy lift, a fast speed, and/or a new record. Physical displays such as these have become our typical performance indicators, however these only tell part of the story; these are merely an external result; an external performance.
But what made that external performance possible? What is inside the body that helped that physical task happen as it did? It wasn’t just the hours and weeks/months/years of practice. Practice and repetition are necessary, but these physical feats would not be possible without some degree of health and ability from the internal components. Without a certain degree of integrity in (and ability of) those internal components, that external display could not have been posible, and all those hours of training and practice would not have even been possible.
When we look closer at the internal components, we can see opportunities to make investments in the body. These investments can pay dividends. Afterall, the health of your skeletal-neuro-muscular system is the foundation for physical performance!
Respecting the structure, the precise stimulation of tissue, and training the skill of contractile control are very valuable “behind the scenes” decisions we can make, and these can positively influence joint health, reduce and/or mitigate overuse and injurious movement, improve external performance, can influence how often we can practice, and therefore how far we can get and how long we can continue in our athletic endeavors over a lifetime.
An Internal Performance approach can be applied to injury prevention & recovery, as well as applied towards exercise training…
An Internal Performance Approach To Injury Prevention & Recovery
Athletes are often compared to high performance race cars. In addition to proper fuel and proper training, we must also consider the stresses placed on the vehicle.
In order to reach a higher level of performance, athletes often train at a higher level of intensity. Like race cars, the faster and harder they train, the more often they will need a “pit stop”.
Muscle “imbalances” and abnormal alignment/movement can become precursors to injury, especially during periods of intense and repetitive training. Poor alignment and compensatory movement can place excessive stress on muscles, joints, tendons, and other tissues. Pain and further compensation are often the symptoms that follow.
Conventional methods and therapies typically attempt to treat the resulting symptoms of pain/tightness/fatigue, without exploring and addressing the underlying muscular/mechanical factors that can cause those symptoms… this usually leads to further compensation, and recurring/more severe injuries down the road.
The goal should be to correct the muscular participation before the injury occurs, however if an injury is already present, the improvement in muscular participation, the improvement in force distribution through the muscular system, and the increase in muscular control/stability will provide a better environment for healing and faster rehabilitation. The end result is increased stability, better recovery, and improved athletic capabilities.
An Internal Performance Approach To Exercise & Training
Exercise is commonly measured by external variables; how much weight you used, how many repetitions you performed, how fast you completed the challenge, or how long you could endure the challenge, etc..
Very few people ask and assess HOW WELL you perform the challenge, and what level of focus, intention, and specificity you bring to each exercise. When we focus on the internal variables, such as tension-generation, control, intention, etc., we can bring our exercise attention where it often needs to be; the human body. Afterall, exercise is first and foremost, an opportinuty to invest in the body; it’s not just a workout to conquer and/or something that can offer us gym-bragging rights.
Internal Performance is a strategy and a mindset, that allows for improvement in tissue strength, and improvement in the controls that govern tension the muscular system. We can train the ‘software’ without having to damage the ‘hardware’. We can improve the ‘hardware’ without having to damage the ‘hardware’. Exercise can be nourishing, stimulating, and an opportunity to make investments in our muscuar resources – instead of torturous, mindless hard work with a mix of unknown results/adaptations/responses.
When we have established a foundation of skill and control, we can progress from basic to more advanced challenges. We can focus on improving contractile ability, movement skill, body control, and tension-generating capabilities. We improve one piece at a time, and as goals and progression dictate, we will incorporate more pieces and more complexity.
Additional Perspectives On Internal Performance
For more perspective, Watch these videos from Tom Purvis, founder of the RTS program, discussing:
- the differences between internal and external performance
- why posture and ROM are not an indication of what’s happening on the inside
- why attempting to “correct” what you think you see in posture can be a terrible mistake