An injury to an athlete can cause a wide range of emotions including denial, anger and depression. Athletes may also feel fear and anxiety about losing those gains and feel like they have lost their identity. Unfortunately not all injuries can be avoided but we can take simple actions to help avoid what we can. Listed below are my simple suggestions:
1. WARM-UP PROPERLY! By warm-up I do not mean hop on a cardio machine for 5 minutes, step off and then swing your arms and legs around in funky windmill movements (I see this so often in the gym). I believe you need to start with stationary mobility(ball release and foam roll), followed by dynamic flexibility and then activation. Taking the time to warm-up before EACH workout could save you from weeks of lay-off due to an injury. Make sure you are foam rolling properly – work on specific tight areas and hold the foam roller on trigger points for about 20 seconds. Fast rolling over your body will not relieve the knots. YES, it will bring blood flow to the area but you want the knots to release to get those muscles to their optimal lengths. Remember LENGTH-TENSION RELATIONSHIPS which refers to the length at which a muscle can produce the greatest force. My warm-ups usually take about 15 minutes. Detailed below is what a leg day warm-up looks like:
a) Ball release – Use a small ball to stretch and mobilize the soft tissue and the joints of the foot. Slowly roll the ball back and forth between the toes and the heel. Followed by hamstring pin & stretch technique with a softball.
b) Foam rolling – I roll my gluteal area, I-T band, lateral quad and lateral hamstring, thoracic spine and lats.
c) Stationary mobility – spinal rotation, roll backs, kneeling hamstring stretch with foot rotations & FABER stretch. I am moving during these mobility exercises but they are all done on my mat.
d) Dynamic flexibility – spider mans with rotations, pigeon stretch, down dogs, walking calf, walking lunges with rotation, lateral lunges for adductors. All done moving across the floor.
e) Activation – clamshells with band and bridges.
NOW I am ready to squat and deadlift!!
2. VOLUME – Have a plan and do not over train. I see people training for 2 hours at a time – this is not necessary. Have a proper training program for the week and look at total volume. Remember you don’t have to do every single exercise to make the gains – be wise!
3. DELOAD WEEKS – I’ve mentioned the importance of deloads weeks in a previous post. Look under my training updates from the post dated 1/20/14 for further information! Deload weeks are a MUST and should be scheduled into your training routine. I deload every 4th week!
4. SLEEP & REST – I make sure I get to bed early and aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. I also rest daily by either having a nap or just rest with my feet up for 20 minutes. I listen to my body and when it needs a nap, I take one! Not only does adequate rest helps prevent injuries, but experts say that well-rested athletes are able to train harder and more effectively, getting more out of training sessions. Rest is an important part of proper training and can make you stronger!
5. SUPPLEMENTS & NUTRITION – Proper nutrition can affect your performance and there is plenty of well-researched and documented facts to prove it. However there is little research on whether or not your diet can prevent injuries. I believe proper nutrition can help you recover, therefore reducing your risk for injury. I plan my macros for the day around my workouts to make sure I have the fuel I need before my workouts and the proper fuels afterward to recover. I also take BCAA’S and creatine. A well fueled, rested and properly trained body will continue to run at peak performance!