Bend it Like Beckham
The leading attribute that puts the competitive edge of some athletes over others is flexibility. Many would assume strength or speed, but nope, flexibility is what truly sets the great athletes apart from others. PSA! Yoga is for everyone. Think about what is required for Lebron James to dunk a basketball, or David Beckham to score a goal, or Serena Williams to slam a high speed tennis ball. The common denominator for all of these athletes is flexibility.
Scientists measure flexibility by someone's range of motion available in the joints and muscles, which dictates the possibilities of human movement. Range of motion (ROM) can be restricted by many factors, one of which is muscle tightness. Muscles can become tight due to a shortening of the muscle from spasms or contractions, or due to scarring. If range of motion is limited for this reason, then it can be countered with stretching and exercises that lengthen the muscles and reduce the scarring.
According to chiropractor, Dr. Jon DeGorter, scar tissue, also known as adhesions, is composed of inflexible fibers that bind together damaged soft tissue. The inflexible nature restricts the range of motion, and shortens and weakens the affected muscle. He notes scar tissue can also be caused by "insufficient oxygen (hypoxia) to soft tissues. Poor posture and sustained pressure (as in sitting) increase muscle tension. With increased muscle tension, blood supply is reduced, and less oxygen gets to the muscles." You might notice signs of scar tissue by pain or weakness in joints and muscles, stiffness in joints, pain while exercising, or numbness. The truth is the wear and tear on our bodies as a result of engaging in sports and living our everyday lifestyle inevitably builds up scar tissue. In order to eliminate scar tissue, you must first increase the blood flow to the affected area. Then you must penetrate deep enough into your muscles to break up the hardened scar tissue. The body does not have natural ways to deteriorate the scar tissue, so it's on you to use tools to counteract the effects of scar tissue by increasing blood flow and physically breaking up the scar tissue. Cupping Therapy pinpoints specific areas of muscle to break up scar tissue; a mini massage ball allows you to dig in as deep as you desire on specific part of your muscles; a vibrating foam roller covers the most amount of area in the shortest amount of time, and works great for larger muscles in the back and lower body; a massage gun provides you with the deepest penetration into your muscles, so you can be assured you are reaching all of the built up scar tissue.
With your muscles at heightened flexibility and full length, you will notice faster speed due to longer stride length, less soreness, faster recovery, increase in muscle strength, and an overall improved game performance for whatever your sport.