Relaxation Training for Improved Performance

Relaxation exercises come in various forms, such as progressive muscle relaxation, biofeedback and some forms of yoga. Using relaxation as part of your overall workout plan will improve performance in four distinct ways.

Relaxation exercises offer you a chance to improve kinesthetic body awareness.

By tensing and relaxing the various muscle groups of your body, you begin to create an enhanced awareness of when certain muscle groups are tense even when not actively recruited. This improves efficiency of movement because of a reduction of wasted energy.

Relaxation aids in recovery following tough workouts.

By reducing tension, you increase blood flow to muscles. It also allows for a deeper stretch for an improved cool down.

Relaxation exercises are an important component to reducing everyday life stress.

They activate the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for the calming response for the body. Simply taking deep abdominal breaths automatically signals the brain to produce a calming feeling. This reduced stress level allows you to have a more effective and efficient day.

Relaxation exercises allow for improved sleep quality and reduce the time taken to fall asleep.

Relaxation exercises take very little time--two to three times a day for 10 minutes after a tough workout, while stretching, at the office or when you get in bed at night. Relaxation tapes and books can be found at most bookstores and offer various forms of relaxation. Find one that works for you and incorporate it into your training and life.


Marc Strickland is a Sport Psychology resident in Phoenix, Arizona, and specializes in working with endurance sport athletes at all levels. He can be reached at imstrick@msn.com.

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