The ability to perform well in the field can be impaired by poor tissue quality, such as muscle tears, bruises or joint problems. It’s important to identify issues and regularly take corrective action to address them.
Issue 1: Muscle Fascia
Fascia is like a plastic-wrap layer surrounding muscle tissue. It creates “chains” that can affect more than one muscle at a time. Fascia can get tight and brittle when it’s not in good condition. Most people think stretching is the remedy, but this is not the case.
Solution: Foam Rolling
Using a dense foam roller on stiff and tender muscles can have an effect similar to deep tissue massage. The muscle tissue isn’t lengthened, but it gets worked on and manipulated in isolation. This breaks up tight fascia and restores mobility. Also, during a subsequent stretch, the muscles are able to sustain the stretch, increasing the lengthening effect. (Get started with these foam rolling exercises.)
Issue 2: Mobility
Muscles attach to and cross over bones to make joints move. If the joints aren’t being moved in all directions during training sessions, they lose their mobility, which can limit strength, impair skill mechanics and even cause injury.
Solution: Mobility Drills
To increase mobility and remain injury-free on the field, warm up with foam rolling, stretching and dynamic exercises. They will increase joint range of motion and promote better joint health. Great exercises include Spiderman Walks, Cradle Walks, High-Knee Walks, Arm Circles and Leg Swings.
Issue 3: Muscle Imbalances
You can improve tissue quality with strength exercises in the weight room. Overtraining mirror muscles places strain on your joints if you don’t work equally hard on the back of your body. This can limit your strength and lead to chronic pain.
Solution: Push and Pull
Remember that every joint has muscles that act on it from the front and back of the body. The best ways to limit or correct muscle imbalances are:
- Focus on compound, multi-joint movements that recruit more than one muscle group
- Perform each exercise through the full range of motion, even it you have to use lighter weight
- If you perform isolation exercises, perform one for each opposing muscle group. For example, if you do Biceps Curls also do Skull Crushers.
For more on soft tissue care, check out these STACK articles: