Gain Without Pain

By Queenie Wong, Kinesiologist

You don’t have to be a professional athlete to experience the physical and mental barriers that affect sports performance.

“I didn't train hard enough”, “I had an off day”, “my legs can’t move any faster” are phrases often used by sports people of every level. In this article, I'll explore the stresses that are commonly experienced by recreational and competitive athletes, and ways in which they can be managed.  

Communication is key. Sports require healthy communication between a functional nervous system and compliant muscles. This interaction is what allows a soccer player to strike a moving ball. In less than a second, the player's intention and visual input are processed in the brain, the motor cortex then sends a movement command to the leg muscles via the spinal cord and nerves. When this communication circuit is out of balance due to internal or external stresses such as dehydration, self-doubt, or a screaming coach, the timing and accuracy of the strike can be affected. 

Don't overreact. Muscles are constantly alternating between active and inactive states in order to execute fluid motion. When this intrinsic function becomes out of sync from repetitive use of a muscle or an unexpected movement such as a slip or missing a step, muscular reactivity can occur. This untimely reactivity is a primary cause of musculoskeletal pain and imbalance. You can imagine the detrimental effects to a runner’s health and performance when their leg muscles become either overly-reactive to or are inhibited by other muscles throughout a 42k race!

Every sport is a mental sport. It is accepted that sport is as much mental as it is physical. Constant negative self-talk such as “I don’t have the time”, “I will never be good”, “I can’t”, not only hurts physical performance but the quintessential mentality of a sportsperson. With passion and competition also comes emotion, and in the field of sports, emotion can be beneficial as much as it can be harmful. So much so that the “Individual Zone of Optimum Functioning” model has been developed to predict athletic performance from emotion intensities and anxiety. Learning how to manage your thoughts and redirect your emotions can make a huge difference.

"Rest" assured. Having ample rest is sometimes more beneficial than another trip to the gym. During recovery time, your muscles get rid of lactic acid, repair muscle fibers, and rewire neuromuscular connections to allow for stronger and more efficient motor sequences. Having a balanced diet can replenish the nutrients used during exercise, such as magnesium, calcium, iron, and various vitamins.

Our bodies have an innate ability to self-heal, however thousands of athletes suffer from repetitive injuries and relentless negative beliefs that can be detrimental to their athletic performance. We often take for granted that our muscle mechanics for specific action are accurate and efficient as a result of training and practice. However, this is not the case when our bodies are under stress. With kinesiology, we help manage these stresses, enhance the body's ability to heal itself while helping you go beyond your physical and mental limits.

As a sports enthusiast, Queenie is passionate about working with clients to overcome musculoskeletal injuries and enhance sports performance. Having played sports throughout her life, she understands the importance of physical activity but also acknowledges the emotional and physical stresses professional and recreational athletes encounter. Book an appointment with Queenie here.