Think of your body as a well-oiled machine, working in harmonious fashion to accomplish a number of different tasks every single day. Sometimes these tasks may be as simple as typing a sentence on a keyboard — like this one — or they may demand vast quantities of explosive energy, like deadlifting or sprinting.
Our bodies do whatever it takes to complete these tasks, both big and small, successfully. We’ll find a way to run a mile down the block, even if our muscles and joints aren’t functioning just as they should. Or we’ll still type a sentence when suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, even if the pain continues to grow. In this way, the human body is rather resilient.
But what happens beneath the surface when we’re set to perform a task the body finds challenging? For instance, if your ankle is a little sore as you run down the street, what will your body do to compensate and ensure it can still get you from point A to point B?
When our muscles or muscle groups struggle to move a joint through its full range of motion, they’ll begin using compensation patterns to get the job done anyway. Often these compensation patterns rely on different movements or different muscles groups, which can ultimately reshape the movement entirely. And while at first such patterns may seem harmless, in truth they’ll only work for so long until something inevitably breaks down. Non-contact injuries are bound to ensue as a result.
So what can we do to eliminate these compensation patterns? While many options arise, reflexive performance reset (RPR) is one of the simplest methods we can adopt to stop compensation patterns before they even start. Let’s jump into this concept (after a brief warmup, of course) to explore the intricacies of RPR in greater depth.
What Is Reflexive Performance Reset?
As we discussed in brief detail above, RPR stands for reflexive performance reset. And though the phrase may seem complex, this “reset” is actually very simple in practice.
A combination of breathing and acupressure that treats imbalances in the muscular and nervous systems, RPR seeks to evaluate your body’s current physical state before heavy exercise. As a result, the intent is to cease compensation patterns that may otherwise lead to injury or limit performance.
Originally founded by world-class sprinting coach Chris Korfist, RPR was the final evolution of a similar training technique called Be Activated, a system created by Douglas Heel that utilizes the body’s natural reflexes to wake up muscles before training.
Korfist created RPR alongside two other prominent strength coaches in the fitness community, Cal Dietz and JL Holdsworth, all of whom had witnessed numerous athletes experience implosion and injury due to a lack of physical preparation before a major competition.
Yet because the Be Activated program was tailored and taught to the top 1% of athletes and, more specifically, their medical practitioners, there was a clear need to bring this information to both the general public and everyday athletes alike. RPR was created to do just that.
The Reflexive Performance Reset Process
Now that we’ve gained an understanding of RPR, it’s time to determine how we can utilize it in our day-to-day life. To do this, we need to break down the many Wake Up Drills that encompass RPR — all of which are geared toward helping you move and feel better, during the day and even as you attempt to sleep efficiently.
You can learn these Wake Up Drills in minutes, and you can often perform them on yourself — one of the greatest benefits that comes from using this system. Before we jump into the drills below, however, remember that these simple exercises are intended to bring you closer to your body as you gain an understanding of your potentially harmful compensation patterns.
The following sections will outline the basic concepts of RPR as it pertains to staying in tune with your body before exercise. Apply this information to ensure your body is resisting compensation methods and is instead maintaining normal, healthy performance techniques.
What Do These Exercises Do?
You may now be wondering what these movements mean after taking some time to study and practice each one. After all, how exactly can rubbing different areas of your body lead to injury prevention?
Believe it or not, the beauty of RPR lies within these simple biohack-like movements, many of which feel more like a massage than a practice to mitigate injury. The objective when performing the Wake Up Drills alongside other RPR exercises is to ‘reset’ various parts of the body and take time to notice how your body is feeling in the moment.
When doing so, it may become more obvious which parts of your body you are compensating for. By doing the Wake Up Drills alongside standard warm-up routines, you can properly warm up your body to prevent injury in the first place and maybe even improve reaction time along the way.
Begin by taking your thumbs and rubbing from the top of your sternum at your collarbone to the base of your sternum between your chest, moving at a moderate pace while paying attention to your breath.
As you breathe, take deep inhales through your nose and allow the exhales to flow out of your mouth. Once you’ve reached the base of your sternum, continue rubbing outward along your rib cage at the base of your chest on both sides.
Performing this exercise provides you with an opportunity to gain insight into your body’s current state of physical sensitivity. Take time to notice what feels good, what hurts, and how your body is potentially compensating as a result.
Place each thumb or set of fingers one inch from your belly button on both sides of your body. From there, follow the same breathing pattern you used in the first exercise as you rub those deep-seated core muscles connecting the lumbar vertebrae to the femur. Focus on that feeling as it pertains to the immediate area, and throughout your body.
This drill aims to determine what aspects of your core are feeling healthy, and if any aspects of your core are imbalanced.
Rub the back of the base of your skull where the tissue and the skull meet, breathing all the while. From there, find the point right under the earlobe and on the jawline, performing the same action. Press the jawline forward but only for a few seconds before rubbing down the jaw from under ear.
You may be wondering how the back of your head connects to your glutes. After all, the two locations are rather far apart on your body. In reality, however, your entire back is a complex set of connective muscles, tissues, ligaments, and bones that all work in conjunction with one another.
By starting at the base of your skull, you can determine which areas of your posterior body feel asymmetrical, all the way down to your glutes.
Use 2-3 fingers to rub the space between the bottom of your rib cage and the top of your hip. Apply pressure with your index fingers and thumbs to separate overlapping muscles in the quads, paying attention to each muscle group as you go. In doing so, you can dictate how these powerful muscles are feeling both together and individually.
Rub the outer edges of your sacral region along your back, using 2-3 fingers and tracing around the top of your hips. The sacral region of your back plays a large role in the function of your upper legs. By studying and examining how this region feels, you can then determine if any points of pain or discomfort are felt elsewhere down the body.
Find your hip bone and rub the front and top edge all the way around to the back of the hip. Perform this until you’ve reached around the entire body to the lower back. The hips act as a pivotal point that dictate a wide range of motion, and thus deserve ample attention before a workout begins.
Begin at your belly button and trace at 45 degree angles up to your rib cage. Just as you reach an inch below your ribs along that line, apply the same rubbing pattern and take notice of the sensation that comes from your ribs.
Repeat this process again on the back side of your body. Much like your lower back is connected to the base of your skull, other areas of your body are connected in less obvious places, including the calf and abdomen.
Rotation & Anti-Rotation
In a circular motion with the heel of your palm, rub around the muscles that rest next to your spine three times over. Then pat vigorously with the heel of your palm in the very same area. This may be one of the more difficult tasks to complete alone, so feel free to find a second set of hands if needed.
Muscles and ligaments that surround the spine are some of the more complex and important ones throughout your entire body. By performing this drill, you can determine if any part of that system feels out of balance.
Locate the third rib from the bottom of your rib cage, and proceed to rub the area in a front to back motion. Again, this process will provide you with the ability to understand if any aspects of your body feel out of place, or if compensation patterns are taking place.
Using a karate chop-like movement, gently strike the inner thighs from the knee to the groin. Repeat this process three times over before rubbing in the very same area. Abdominal muscles are connected to mechanisms in the inner thigh, and thus require attention within this zone.
Rub across your neck in the space just below the collarbone, giving your fingers a chance to treat each area with firm but pleasant pressure. Much like the back, the neck is also a fragile anatomical portion of the body that can easily adopt compensation patterns. As such, it requires extensive examination before any workout begins.
Find the place where your arm is connected to your torso, and use your hand as if it were a saw to rub the area back and forth. Joints like those in the arms and legs are often subjected to compensation patterns as they undergo strenuous movements. This is why they require examination.
Rub the front of your rib cage below the pectoral muscle with a claw-shaped hand. Be sure to rub down the pec, across the underside of the pec, up to the armpit, and back down your side. This entire region is filled with a complex array of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that deserve inspection before any form of physical activity takes place.
If you find yourself looking for a visual aid as you proceed, refer to this online diagram that discusses in detail the proper movements for these Wake Up Drills.
Reflexive Performance Reset and You
What began as an opportunity for medical practitioners to work on elite athletes has since made its way to the general public. Reflexive Performance Reset is one of the simplest tasks you can incorporate into your daily routine, readying your body for performance mode and reducing the risk of compensation or injury along the way. And the best part of all is that it can be accomplished with you, and only you — no assistance required.
For those still seeking a bit more information on the specifics of RPR or you want to take courses that aim to educate you from start to finish, head to the Reflexive Performance Reset website for more information.
Take time to analyze your body and determine what muscles or muscle groups are experiencing constant stress. Seek medical advice from a licensed practitioner along the way if need be. Now get back to what you love doing, avoid injury, and make every training session count.