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Even if you possess just a passing knowledge of professional sports, you’ll be aware of the lengths that some athletes go to in order to gain an edge on their opposition. Whether that’s pro cyclists having custom-made pillows for their tour bus, elite-level footballers hiring sleep coaches for better slumber or, more simply, CrossFit athletes avoiding sharp knives pre-competition; there’s a myriad of ways athletes are banking on small changes that can translate to big results.
At a wider level, the fitness experiments going on behind closed doors at England Rugby’s base in Twickenham are no different from these examples. Ever since England coach Eddie Jones took the helm of the team after a tumultuous 2015 season, the 36-man squad has transformed into an (almost) unbeatable tour de force. What lies behind the team’s ascension can’t be found in the England Rugby weights room, however, nor can it be found in their diligent nutrition plans. Rather, it can be found in their biology.
Relatively recently, the behind-the-scenes fitness coaches at England Rugby have adopted a new approach to ensure that their athletes are performing at their best. It’s called Reflexive Performance Reset (RPR), and is a method that agitates and stimulates muscle tissue and warms up the athlete’s muscle groups. Prior to a match or a hard training session, the coaching staff use a combination of breath work and precise acupressure to treat imbalances in the players’ muscular and nervous systems. At either ends of the spectrum, the real-world carry-over of RPR can range from a simple motivation boost and psychological tool, all the way up to better reaction times, reduced injury risk and improved mind-to-muscle connection. (Continued below)
“It’s not just about the body, we need to warm-up the nervous system too,” explains Tom Tombleson, England Rugby’s strength and conditioning coordinator on the importance of warming up body and mind. “There’s a few tricks of the trade that we’ve got up our sleeve. [With RPR], we activate using pressure points in the body. Once those are primed, we can start to open up, activate and move in
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