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Want To Move Better? Start By Relaxing

Updated: May 5, 2022

I still remember one of my little league coach’s favorite expressions when I was pitching. Any time I got into a situation that was stressful (runners on base, game on the line, etc.) he would yell, “Relax, just throw strikes.” I remember when he first said that I would look inward and say, “Alright I just need to relax and I will be fine”. Then I would be so focused on relaxing that the batter would hit a double and the runners would score. I eventually started tuning my coach out and performed much better. I figured that relaxing was the last thing that I needed to do for better results.

So naturally I am writing this to tell you that relaxation is one of the under-appreciated keys to moving better.

Funny how life comes full circle like that.

I won’t be talking about performance on the field, as that is a completely different beast that involves mental skills and practice, which is beyond the scope of this post. For reference, relaxation can be helpful on the field, as Alex Rodriguez talked about in this Sports Illustrated article.

What I want to focus on involves relaxation as it relates to movement quality and ease. It makes sense that relaxing can help with movement. Try flexing your biceps as hard as you can and, while flexing, extend your elbow. It is very hard to move a muscle that is tight and engaged. The questions becomes: how can we relax our muscles to allow for effective movement, without it becoming a no bones day?