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3 Proven Ways to Improve
Athletic Performance

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Good athletes are always looking for ways to get better. The best athletes know that one major key to improving is prioritizing recovery as much as training. And the most elite athletes have fine-tuned their recovery protocols to encompass a variety of ways to relax the muscles, joints, nervous system, and mind. Here are three you can start incorporating to improve your own athletic performance.

Percussive Therapy

Whether you need quick relief from painful soreness or you’re looking for an ongoing therapy to add to your performance regimen, percussive massage has you covered.

This science-backed performance enhancement technique is a jack of all trades: You can completely customize percussive massage to your needs and use it before, during, or after training sessions.

You’ll enjoy the very best results of percussive therapy if you use your massage gun regularly, such as before and/or after 80 percent of your training sessions. Targeting your use, such as knowing the right settings for warm-ups, cool-downs and deep massage, will also increase the overall benefit you get.

Not only does percussive therapy help with musculoskeletal symptoms, but it can also help relieve stress and anxiety. And all athletes know there’s nothing like going into a game with a clear head.

Read more: How to Use a Muscle Massager for Knots

Woman giving a neck massage to a friend with an Ekrin B37 Percussion Massager

Contrast Water Therapy

If you can tolerate extreme temperatures, you should try contrast water therapy to accelerate workout recovery and improve athletic performance. Contrast water therapy involves intermittently submersing yourself in very cold water and very hot water — it’s like the ice bath’s mean older brother.

This recovery tactic isn’t for the faint of heart. It can (and will) be extremely uncomfortable. But research suggests it’s also extremely beneficial, so, choose your battles.

Here’s how it works:

When you submerge your body in cold water, your blood vessels get smaller in diameter This is called vasoconstriction. When you submerge your body in hot water, they expand. This is called vasodilation. Switching between the two temperatures instigates a sort of artificial pulsing in your blood vessels, forcing them to constrict and dilate over and over again.

Ice baths alone have plenty of research backing up the benefits. But contrast water therapy might provide additional benefits that you can’t get from just cold water immersion. For instance, one study found that contrasting hot and cold water immersion helped athletes recover from fatigue quicker than only cold water baths.

Some experts believe contrast water therapy produces a mechanism similar to that of intermittent compression, of which the benefits include improved circulation and reduced swelling. Overall, the evidence for this type of therapy is inconclusive, but it’s a relatively accessible tactic for the everyday athlete to at least try.

Read more: How Many Days Per Week Should You Work Out?

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Nutrient Timing

This isn’t exactly a novel concept, but it’s a solid one — eating the right type of food at the right time can give you an added edge during workouts. If you’ve been feeling sluggish during training sessions or competitions, you may not be fueling yourself properly or using nutrition as a recovery tactic.

Fueling and refueling with the right meals can make a massive difference in how you feel during training. Consider how you can tweak your eating habits to better support your athletic performance. You could try adding more carbs to your pre-workout meal or eating a larger meal (a couple of hours before training) with plenty of fat for long-term fuel.

Before diving into nutrient timing, however, make sure you already eat enough calories to support your activity level and goals. Nutrient timing is at the top of the pyramid when it comes to performance-driven eating habits. If you have everything else in check — total calorie intake, macronutrient balance, micronutrient consumption — you can start timing your meals to make the most of them.

Looking for more information about workout recovery and improving performance? Read our Keys to Recovery, the six components of workout recovery we believe can make you a healthier human and a better athlete.

Read more: 5 Ways to Accelerate Post-Workout Recovery

This article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended for use as medical or health advice. For any and all health concerns or conditions, please talk to your doctor.

Written by Ekrin Athletics Staff

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