If you’re an athlete then nothing signals the arrival of spring training season like those longer days and the steady rise of the mercury. Whether you are an avid cyclist, dedicated tennis buff or hardcore triathlete, the bright sunny days and warmer weather are definitely a welcome sight! It means you can spend more time on the road testing out your new carbon fiber wheels or practice your serve and volley without the winter weather getting in the way. As an athlete, we all know it’s that extra effort you put in that really pays off on competition day. However, we also know that sometimes it is that last squat in the gym or extra ten minutes practicing kicks on goal that can cause injury to a fatigued body. That’s why getting to know your body and having a good arsenal of injury prevention methods in your repertoire is important. So I am going to give you a list of my top 5 tips for keeping that nasty calf pull away or that nagging hamstring injury on the bench!
- Drink 8 glasses a day! And despite what you try to make yourself believe, coffee and your favorite vintage do not count. In fact, you need to add an extra 8 ounces for every 8 ounces of dehydrating liquids you consume! Adding an isotonic sports drink to your hydration regime is a must. Isotonic means the osmolality of the beverage matches that of your blood. My favorite is Vitalyte Electrolyte Replacement drink mix. Free from anything artificial and made with glucose for quick absorption of minerals, this sports drink will stop dehydration in its tracks. Oh I forgot to mention it’s gluten free and uses non-GMO ingredients as well. No wonder many of the top tennis players in the world use it!
- Rest Up! You all know who you are. You live by the mantra, “I can sleep when I’m dead.” Or even, “Sleep is for lazy people.” Time to change that thought process. You make all your gains from training during rest and recovery periods. And it’s proven that people who go to bed by 10pm have lower rates of diabetes and other diseases. One of my coaches used to say, “Nothing good happens after midnight!” So turn off the tube and go make peace with your pillow.
- Fuel Up-with the right fuel! I hate to tell you but your mother was right when she used to tell you to eat your veggies, they would help you grow big and strong. Dark, leafy greens contain all sorts of essential nutrients including b vitamins for amino acid utilization and energy to fiber which is known to lower cholesterol. Lean protein is also essential to build muscle after exercise. And don’t forget some carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen. While I’m not talking about your favorite candy bar, I am talking about great grains like quinoa, amaranth, spelt and kamut. Not only are they ancient grains so they are less genetically modified, they contain all sorts of great stuff your body likes! So go call your mom and tell her thank you for the advice you used to refuse to take.
- Know your clock! By this I mean timing. To grab a little inspiration from The Rolling Stones, time is on your side! See when you eat and train is just as important as when you don’t. Yes you need to fuel before you workout. But downing a grass-fed burger with all the works twenty minutes before an hour long swim is not what Mick was referring to! Turn was referring to! You want to take in some carbohydrate source that is easy to digest about 45 minutes prior to training. Vitalyte Sports Nutrition makes a great pre workout drink for athletes called Tri Phase Endurance. It has a long chain carbohydrate that burns slowly for sustained energy plus b vitamins for energy and beta alanine to buffer the lactic acid you will be creating during activity. Post workout it’s essential to get a good fuel source with amino acids back in your body within 30 minutes of finishing exercise. Our same friends at Vitalyte make a great post workout drink called Complete Recovery. Packed with amino acids for muscle recovery and superoxidesdismutase to fight inflammation and free radical damage, this formula will give post exercise induced soreness a kick in the backside!
- Update your contact list! So what does the number of contacts in your cell phone have to do with staying injury free? Well if those numbers are associated with the right health practitioners and injury prevention companies, then a lot! If you are suffering an injury, find good support staff that include qualified acupuncturists, massage therapists and sports minded chiropractors. Also, postural realignment techniques are essential. Two of my favorite that kept me going during my professional career as a runner are The Egoscue Method and Symmetry For Heath. If you are in need of muscle support during activity, please throw away the archaic white tape! My friends at Body Helix make the premier compression products on the market to help reduce muscle fatigue and friction. So discard those phone numbers of your ex’s and update it with some quality injury prevention specialists! Sorry to tell you, if your college girlfriend never gave you back your prized original Bono-signed Rattle And Hum album by now it’s not going to happen.
Good luck! Whether you are putting in the miles for that spring marathon or doing sprints to prepare for your adult softball league, I hope these injury prevention tips I have learned over the years help.