NFL football players are some of the highest performing athletes in the world. With this comes strict regimes to ensure their mental and physical health. Everything from their eating habits to sleeping patterns plays a role in their performance and allow them to THRIVE. While not everyone may be an athlete at this level, many of their habits are also extremely important and helpful to the average active person. We enlisted some of our providers to give readers the necessary information to “Train like an NFL athlete”.
Written by: Lee MSPT, OCS
Don’t skimp on warming up and cooling down activities! There are lots of ways these can be done. Warm-ups can include anything from breathing in a 90/90 position, light jogging, dynamic warm-ups like walking lunges with a rotation, etc. Cool-downs can include some gentle stretching, foam rolling light jogging or walking. Warm-ups will prep muscles and make sure they are able to ramp up to your peak activity level by lengthening progressively and increasing circulation. In other words, don’t try to take your body from 0-60 in seconds flat from rest. Cool-downs can help to gently stretch and mobilize soft tissues which can become stiffer after strenuous activity while tissues repair themselves. This is important rather than going from a hard workout directly to sitting or not moving right afterward for the next few hours- probably the last thing you want to do!
Written by: Maureen Moore, CMT + PTA
Recovery is essential to ensure good muscle health for athletes. Massage helps to reduce the risk of injury by breaking up adhesions, improves range of motion, and increases circulation to bring nutritious blood flow to the muscles. These benefits can help improve performance by allowing the athlete to move without restrictions or pain. Massage also helps the body to get into a parasympathetic state, which allows rest and recovery to occur.
Written by: Chantal Owen, CMT + CR + CCA
There are 3 known phases to support any athlete’s physical, emotional and mental regimen to ensure maximum performance and recovery which are pre, intra, and post-workout phases. All stages are extremely important to integrate and any athlete wellness routine must include massage and bodywork in order to prepare the mind and body for a specific intense workout or game. A pre-game treatment that can include cupping therapy, Graston or any additional tools to release tension and increase blood flow will prepare the body and help prevent injuries. The intra-workout phase integrates modalities to support the current exercise load and exertion to address possible physical challenges preventing maximum performance while the post-workout regimen provides the necessary mental, emotional and physical relief and reset for the athlete to heal/recover and be prepared for the next workout session. Massage techniques such as petrissage, kneading, skin rolling, lifting using cupping techniques, friction using tools like Graston or fascia blaster and vibration tools like hyper volt can address the needs of any athlete during any stage of a workout program.
Written by: Tracy PH.D + C-MPC + BCB
Being able to stay in a “zone of optimal performance” is a great goal. This sweet spot is where physiological activation (how amped you are) is in a range that facilitates performance. Being too amped up will hurt performance, especially in football, because it will result in visual changes (tunnel vision), auditory narrowing (can’t hear as well), muscular tightness (won’t be as agile), and manual dexterity (fumbling fingers won’t do what you want). The over activation will make it harder for athletes to flex and adapt to ever-changing conditions on the field or to capitalize on opportunities. On the other hand, being under activated presents its own performance concerns. An example is taking extra time to “get into the game” because they needed to achieve a higher activation level to get physically and cognitively engaged.
Personally, I think NFL players need a slightly different strategy in the SuperBowl. Often you will hear athletes talk about momentum changes from the first half to the second half. The halftime break is longer due to the big halftime show, but this is a KNOWN factor. If you know the break is longer, plan for it. It is an opportunity to reset or to do some energy management to ensure you finish as strong as you started. It is an easy excuse for athletes to say they lost momentum due to the extra time, but that is just poor planning.