Engage Athletic Potential with RPR and IASTM

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Justin Schwind

Education: Mississippi State ’07, master’s degree in physical education
Coaching/Administrative Experience: JFK Special Warfare Center and School USASOC – strength & conditioning specialist, 2019-2020 | 58 Special Operations Wing AFSOC – human performance advisor, 2020- Present Certifications: CSCS, SCCC Family: Wife, Erin Son, Bexar

// REFLEXIVE PERFORMANCE RESET AND INSTRUMENT AIDED SOFT TISSUE MANIPULATION

If you haven’t had the opportunity to explore Reflexive Performance Reset (RPR) yet, I would recommend a dive down the RPR rabbit hole. The benefits of increased alertness and improved performance, along with enhanced body awareness and the mitigation of injuries, make the educational journey worth your time.

The RPR method agitates the tissues, warming up the body. It is a simple system of breathing and rubbing that enables athletes to feel better, move better, and live a better life. By doing so, athletes learn how to control the electricity of their body, a.k.a the central nervous system, by pinpointing and illuminating the locations of internal light switches. After executing the RPR System, athletes should move into a dynamic warm up flow to prepare for the physical stress of the day.  

The concepts surrounding the techniques of RPR can be overwhelming to many. Because of this, I like to introduce the system in small, bite-size batches or zones:

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Zone 1
Pertains to engaging diaphragm breathing, and activating the glute/hip and psoas. Emphasizing the breath and posture will allow better control and movement efficiency. Zone 1 should be targeted every day and before any activity.
Zone 2
Targets the lower body and trunk activation systems: the hamstrings, quadriceps, hip sling, rotation, and abdominals.
Zone 3
Includes the upper body activation structures: the calves, lats, neck, shoulder, and rotator cuff. 
Finger fatigue and the inability to reach the deeper points of the body’s tissues, particularly around the hip or trunk area, are two of the biggest issues many face while attempting to execute the RPR system. With proper implementation and tools, though, those utilizing the RPR system can see amplified results in their athletes.

The best way for athletes to maximize the execution of the RPR is to use an Instrument Aided Soft Tissue Manipulation (IASTM) device. Sometimes the tissue being engaged can be dense and non-responsive, requiring a more aggressive approach. The manual therapy approach of using specially designed tools, though, can engage the musculoskeletal tissue.

There is a broad spectrum of IASTM tools to choose from, ranging from a manually executed device to a self-percussion apparatus. These devices can increase the overall utilization of the RPR system by making it more easily accessible for the athlete. They can also be used to aid in an athlete’s overall recovery, making them versatile pieces of equipment.

Engage Athletic Potential with these Tools

An easily accessible and cost-effective piece of equipment that can be employed is a three-quarter inch pvc pipe (cut to approximately 6-10 inches in length) with a blunt cap fitting. Athletes can use this to target their tissue, rather than their fingers, but this method can still lead to fatigue since it is a manual technique.

The next IASTM tool I recommend is a car buffer. The oscillation of the buffer agitates deep tissue well, is easily available at many retailers, and is cost-effective. The size of the buffer, though, means that it is difficult to target acute spots such as the psoas or VMO. You are also limited in where you can use this tool since you need access to electricity for it to run.

The last tool, and my preferred one, is the Hyperice Hypervolt. Unlike other percussion IASTMs, this one is quiet and battery powered, making it more mobile than the car buffer. The Hyperice also comes with different attachments for the reciprocating head, providing options for different intensities and enabling athletes to target tissue at various depths. This is the most costly out of all three options, but it is worth the investment in my opinion. 

The minimalism of the equipment necessary to implement RPR is one of the main reasons why I love this method. RPR can be done anywhere and at any time, making it an easy program to include in your repertoire to further drive athlete performance and mitigate injury.

The Untold Story Of Hyperice

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