...those annoying things that keep you from doing what you want!
I thought it fitting this month that I write on the topic of staying healthy. I recently suffered a broken bone from a snowboarding accident... before I go any further, I want to say a big thank you to all the WRAC members who showed their support and love over this recent time…you guys are truly amazing and I’m glad that in just the few months I’ve arrived in Wenatchee that it could feel like a second (or third?) home!
Some solace I take away from being injured on the snow is the fact that it did not occur on the tennis court (my other home!). While I might need to work on my snowboarding accuracy through the trees, I have been relatively injury free for someone having played tennis for 24 years and having attained a professional level. Now, the more we train for whatever sport or event, the more our bodies become tired and develop asymmetry. Your body is forced to compensate in other areas when you complete repetitive movements. This compensation is the “wow” moment if you have ever visited an osteopath – or taken a massage at our club – and find that the source of our pain or injury stemmed from something anatomically distant from that pain!
So what can we do to prevent muscle imbalances, keep good posture, and keep building on our goals?
Well, the secret lies in a good training program. For a tennis player, they are right or left side dominant depending on their play. Even a more evenly balanced movement like a squat in weightlifting shows that our bodies can favor one side. This favoring is particularly true with respect to prior injuries as many athletes look to avoid the weaker side and thus can create more problems in the long run of their training stemming from these imbalances.
1. Warm up. Often the most overlooked element of any training program by most novice athletes. During a warm up, your muscles are not ready to rapidly move and extend to their maximum so easing your body into your training is a huge advantage for those who can be patient for 5-20 minutes – yes they can go for that long! Note: A warm down is a great idea also post-training. Tip: Before training, do dynamic stretching – this means movement. Move your body with light jogging, twisting, extending movements that are not a static stretch and hold. These stretch and hold movements should be utilized at the END of your workout.
2. Ice is your friend. If your shoulder hurts from repetitive movement like serving in tennis, ice will help reduce the inflammation in your muscles and decrease pain. If you can’t bare the pain, get a lesson from me and I’ll fix your technique! …if you can’t take off a few weeks/months to fully recover from overuse, ice will really help that dull aching pain and keep you in the game.
3. Get mobile! Training for a wide range of motion and testing for muscle constraints helps your body stay in good form. You can simply add some slow strength and flexibility exercises to your program and see yourself be able to continue your hard work despite maybe not “feeling” better, you’ll see how you can stay injury free. A basic example would be don’t only train your chest… train your back evenly as well.
4. Massage. If any of you have been fortunate enough to experience sports massage, you already know the benefits the sometimes painful (but good!) experience brings. When you train, your muscles tighten up and tangle into knots. This tightness is the body way of telling you you’re doing too much and it wants a break. Athletes often use massage to help those muscles relax and release tension as to function more evenly or as desired by the body. Overall, if you put in the work to stay healthy you only allow yourself the best chance to stay in the game! We can’t avoid some injuries but we can control our preparedness. Good luck and stay healthy!
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1913 Skyline Dr.
Wenatchee, WA 98801