Increasing speed, coordination and power

Although I am now in my 50s, I am moving better than I did when I was a teenager. I continue to achieve higher and higher maximum RPMs when sprinting on my stationary bike, for example. This isn’t because I am in better shape, but because my daily somatic practice is resulting in less and less habituated muscle tension. Some tightness in my hip flexors in particular were preventing me from achieving my potential maximum speed.

Most of us have muscles that remain contracted even when we don’t need them, which means our movements are like driving a car with the emergency brake on. This results in slower and less coordinated movements. Even at an early age many people develop tension in muscles such as hip flexors, as a result of so much time spent sitting, as well as constant triggering of stress reflexes. When you watch some of the fastest sprinters in history, such as Usain Bolt, Noah Lyles and Sydney Mclaughlin-Levrone, notice how relaxed they look, even as they are smoothly contracting and releasing muscles. Also notice how much range of motion they have, and imagine how much slower they would be if they moved like most of us do after eight hours of sitting!

Muscle tension also affects accuracy and power, as it prevents you from smoothly following through with your intended movements.

Try this: take a baseline measurement of your favorite activities, such as the average distance that you drive a golf ball, or the average number of shots made with a basketball from the free throw line. Then practice somatic movements daily for a few weeks. Reinforce the changes that you make with some standing somatic movements just before repeating your measurement. I suspect that your numbers will improve noticeably, even without trying to change anything else.