Athletes have a “ceiling” of athletic potential. Pushing the limits may increase the risk of injury. A strong foundation and efficient movement patterns can reduce the possibility of injury and enhance performance. Optimal athletic performance requires strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, agility, and coordination. The key to improving athletic performance and reaching maximum potential is to identify and correct deficits in any of these areas. Physical therapists have advanced training in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, rehabilitation, and movement patterns in the human body. Our passion is in helping people achieve their goals through advanced training programs designed specifically for each individual.
Why PT for Performance Enhancement?
Performance enhancement is a fundamental principle for athletics or recreational activities to maximize the potential of the human body and mind. Physical therapists specialize in assessing and correcting problems that can hinder performance. A physical therapist is:
- Experienced in prescribing programs to train patients in a wide range of sports and activities.
- An important liaison among physicians, parents, coaches, and athletic trainers to help provide comprehensive care.
- Educated in research-based testing to help determine how to safely and successfully train patients for athletic and recreational activities.
- Highly skilled in manual therapy techniques to assist the body in moving more effectively.
- Able to prescribe activities that influence multiple body systems to maximize performance, including cardiovascular, neuro-motor, cognitive, musculoskeletal, and dietary.
Physical therapists are best known for their prescription of detailed exercises that help improve body function. This is especially true for athletic performance enhancement, as there are a lot of factors to consider for each individual to meet their goals.
Exercises will vary depending on injuries (old or new), body type, and the patient’s abilities and needs. Other factors to consider include the patient’s sport or activity, level of difficulty, and timing (in-season vs. off-season).
The physical therapist and patient relationship can be analogized to that of a mechanic working with a finely-tuned car. Sometimes all that is needed is a small change in tire pressure while other times repairs may be needed to an entire structural component of the car.
As indicated in the ageless adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If wait to break down before calling your physical therapist, then you might be missing the boat. If you feel great right now and have no aches and pains, call your physical therapist and allow us to help keep you that way!
Who can benefit from PT?
Physical therapy is beneficial for anyone interested in athletic performance or people who want to stay healthy and active. People often limit their activity due to pain, stiffness, or weakness, and a physical therapist specializes in correcting these issues to get you back to doing the activities you love. You may already have an exercise program but need some guidance to ensure you are staying safe and progressing appropriately. If you are not sure, contact your local PT and find out if you are a good candidate for physical therapy.
Performance Enhancement areas of focus include the following:
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Mobility and flexibility play an important role in preparing the body to move in action. Developing proper stretching technique and understanding what key muscles to stretch for a particular sporting event can lead to less injuries and improved performance. There is a physiological difference between static and dynamic activities that can affect performance if not done at the appropriate time.
Speed, agility, and jump training are essential in all sports. Foot-speed drills, multi-plane agility drills, and plyometric jump training all lead to increased power, speed, and overall sports performance. Both acceleration and deceleration training is included in any performance enhancement program. Sports require starting and stopping, and without training both aspects, performance suffers and risk of injury increases.
Proprioception is your ability to sense your body position in space. You can be the strongest and fastest athlete in world, but if you can’t move with grace and efficiency, you won’t be effective on the field or court, and you are more susceptible to injury. Our bodies are wonderfully designed for complex movement. Unfortunately many youth athletes do not incorporate balance and coordination training into their programs. The human body has over 650 named skeletal muscles, many of which provide a necessary stabilization function that, without training, will affect performance. The body moves as a system where muscles must work in unison to support movement, especially athletic movements that stress the body.
Strength is required in most athletic activities and is necessary to propel our bodies in multiple planes of movement. It is always best to incorporate functional-based movements using both the upper and lower body simultaneously. This training helps to engage the core trunk muscles responsible for stabilizing our middle so we can truly strengthen our extremities. Power training is strength training with a speed component, which usually incorporates jumping and hopping activities or plyometric activities.
By strengthening your core, you are training your pelvis, hips, lower back, and abdomen to work together. Your core is your power center. A strong core gives you a stable power base to work from and improves overall athletic performance. Every athletic event requires a strong and stable core to support overall movement patterns efficiently.
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