A common frustration amongst people wanting to improve their fitness is having to reduce or stop training because of unforeseen injuries. Well these injures might not be as unforeseen as you think.
Understanding how the body functions is an important way to identify injury before it creeps in. The first and arguably most important point to remember is the body works as a whole unit. Like a well-oiled machine we need to look after all components of the system for optimum function. If you spend most of your day sitting, driving or stationary then high intensity exercise in the evening can place excessive stress on certain areas that may have tightened up during the day. Maintaining movement throughout the day prevents postural muscles becoming tight and poor muscle firing patterns being adopted. After all you wouldn’t want to have the handbrake on during a drag race!
Secondly you get out what you put in. Nutrition and hydration are often over looked or at least ignored when wanting to improve fitness. Well each of these factors has a compound effect on how you function, move and most importantly recover from exercise. Eating and drinking well during the day of training but binging on alcohol or fatty foods on the weekend is like training for a marathon by only doing sprint work. Build a routine which is replicable, comfortable and remember ‘Everything in moderation’.
Thirdly sleep is king for athletic performance. If you look at the top athletes from sporting disciplines across the board they are as disciplined in their sleep routine as they are in their training. Sleep is the time the body recovers and repairs from the day before. The body releases hormones and chemicals which promote muscle and joint recovery, reduce stress hormones and re-fill energy stores in preparation for the day ahead. Unsure if you have a good sleep routine? Ask yourself this one question – Do you feel tired or refreshed on waking? If the answer is ‘tired’ then you need to address your sleep habits.
Knowing when not to train
The mantra of ‘Champions never quit’ is outdated and potentially dangerous. The truth is champions know exactly when to quit, rest and reassess their plan moving forward. My big three tips on when not to train are:
- Fatigued – Look at doing some mobility work or core stability but never cardio or heavy compound movements
- Unwell – Go home, eat well, stay hydrated and rest.
- Pain – We all know the difference between the pain of an injury and the pain of completing a gruelling routine. Don’t ignore twinges at the beginning of the session. The adrenaline release which happens during a workout can reduce our perception of pain but the damage can continue.
A strategy for consistent progression
Building a strategy that is unique to you, your goals and ability is key.
Surround yourself with the best. Having practised in the UK before moving to Sydney I have been exposed to the good, the bad and the downright dangerous when it comes to CrossFit gyms. The boxes which, in my view, are the best will spend time with all new members going through the basic lift techniques until they are perfect before progressing to weighted bars. They will also dedicate a portion of the sessions to mobility.
Who’s in your corner?
Have a team in your corner who keep you on track to achieving your goals. Are you getting checked by a chiropractor regularly to make sure you’re on track before injury sets in? We all see a dentist for a check-up but shy away from seeing someone about the movement and function of the body. Investing in a regular check-up will save you both financially in the long term and the heart ache of not achieving your goals. Build a team you trust are happy with and are as passionate about you achieving your goals as you are.
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