Secrets to better results
> The recent Olympics saw the introduction of new technology in sportswear, and other tools used by athletes to enhance their performance
AMERICAN swimming legend Michael Phelps ( right) was spotted with his back full of big red dots during the recent Rio Olympics, and the whole world went nuts wondering what those were, and if they were part of a new ‘secret weapon’ to make him swim faster.
However, two billion people in China and some other Chinese-speaking communities around the world knew exactly what those mysterious red patches were all about.
They were the result of an ancient traditional Chinese medicinal practice known as cupping. I personally have had it done on me when I was a wee lad.
My great granny administered it whenever I had a bloated tummy, because I was a greedy boy.
Whether it helped Phelps to win five gold medals and one silver at the Rio Olympics is another matter.
The previous two Olympics (Beijing and London) also saw the introduction of new technology in sportswear and other tools to improve performance.
More than 130 swimming world records were broken from 2008 through 2009, thanks to the use of these high-tech swimsuits.
These high-performance swimwear are made from scientifically-advanced materials and used for competitive water sports.
Materials of this nature increase the glide through the water, and are said to mimic marine animal skin. They also reduce water absorption compared to regular swimsuits.
Some companies claimed that their fabrics could even reduce the friction caused by human skin through the water, and had come out with a line of high-end competitive swimwear designed to cover the arms and legs that could increase the swimmer’s speed by between 3% and 7%.
Does it really help? Well, Phelps did win a record eight gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games wearing such a suit.
Several years ago, there was much hype over a new type of clothing for sports performance – compression wear.
Compression wear has been clinically proven to help relieve pain from muscle stiffness and soreness, and reducing the time taken for muscles to repair themselves.
It is also used to improve venous return and oxygenation to working muscles.
So, is compression wear truly effective for sport? I would say yes. After all, compression wear has been prescribed medically to aid recovery and aid blood circulation.
Then again, the 100m world record was broken in London 2012 by an unassuming unknown from a small island in the Caribbean, wearing a not-sofamous brand of T-shirt and pair of running shorts.
He beat out seven other athletes wearing compression wear from head to toe, giving technology a hard slap in the face.
It was also noticeable fewer compression wear outfits worn by competitors during the track-and-field events in Rio. And yes, the Carribean sprinter won again, in pretty much the same clothes.
Also, did you see the mysterious striped tape badminton legends Datuk Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan wore during the recent Rio Games?
Those have actually been around for a few years already, and really came into the spotlight during the 2012 London Olympics.
Athletic taping is the process of applying tape directly to the skin in order for bones and muscles to maintain a stable position during athletic activity.
Proponents claimed that the taping reduces muscle pain and aids in injury recovery.
The general goals of athletic taping are to restrict the motion of injured joint to protect it from re-injury as well as protect the injured part while healing, compress soft tissues to reduce swelling, support anatomical structure involved in the injury, and serve to secure a splint, dressing or bandages.
Unfortunately, research conducted so far on the effects of taping have been inconclusive.
So why did Lee insist on sporting the tape? My guess is – the placebo effect.
I am wondering what would be the next new thing in Tokyo 2020? Have you ever heard of Kegel control for better core performance? I’m putting my money on butt plugs!
Let’s be fit!
Jonathan Tan is the club manager of the Sports Toto Fitness Centre at Berjaya Times Square. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.