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Located in Albuquerque, NM, U.S.A. (MOVEMENT THERAPY)

When I observe athletes going all out 100% in a competition, from golf to tennis to weightlifting to running etc., they are almost always paying a physical price – harming their bodies. The more competitions an athlete is in where he or she goes all out, the more cumulative the wear and tear.

Does it have to be this way? Is it possible for an extraordinary athlete to go all out all of the time every time he or she competes and not cause damage to the body? Yes, but a couple of things have to happen. First, the athlete needs to use a technique where the body is almost always on balance, so that the athlete doesn’t have to use excess muscle to keep from falling over.

Ex: If a golfer or a tennis player is continually hitting the ball or a runner is not running fully centered over their legs, then their whole technique is compromised with tension.

The other major factor is that the athlete may use too much muscle constantly throughout the competition. This usually manifests as two negative things happening at the same time. The athlete tenses before he or she hits the ball or lifts the weight or runs, so they use too much muscle to get the job done.

What do I mean they use too much muscle to get the job done? In anticipation of lifting the weight or hitting a ball or running, they create too much musculature tension in the arms, back, shoulders, legs etc., to make sure they get the job done. This has two negative effects on what they’re doing.

The first is that excess muscular tension interferes with the speed of the lift or the speed with which the ball is hit or the speed of the run. It slows the athlete down, so they aren’t moving reflexively, explosively.

Second, if they lift or hit a ball or run with held musculature in anticipation of what they’re about to do, then they have forced joints together throughout the whole body unnecessarily, and hours of competition with joints in compression wears out the joints. In other words, it isn’t about the repetition of a movement in an athlete going all out in an event, it is about the excessive tension throughout the whole body being confused for a commitment to win.
You can play or run all out without damaging your body, when you compete with a technique that creates balance throughout the whole body, and by not not tensing up before you unleash the racket or the club on the ball or as you run all out.

It is a powerful realization for me to see how athletes who go all out in competitions, assume they have to pay a physical price to experience the joy of an all out commitment to winning. This is the norm. It is a norm based on the assumption that you can’t do your best in a competition unless you are willing to do damage to your body over time.

If this is true, then competing without holding back is not a win win situation, it is a win lose situation, where those participating believe the momentary glory is worth a lifetime of pain or at worst a crippled body.

Competing to win without holding back can be a win win situation, if the athlete learns to move reflexively on balance using released explosive muscles. Going all out is the way it should be, because it is doing what you love without holding back, which is an act of self-love, commitment, and self-loyalty.