Guest KAWBlog entry by: Mike Limerick, AT, LMT
While living in Florida, I had the luxury of running and cycling year round, although the “curse” of near perfect weather every day did lead to some “over-training” injuries, or “itises” (a fancy medical term for inflammation), as I like to call them. Now, fast forward to my life in Michigan, I find my training starts to diminish during the winter months, due to frigid temperatures and/or snowy, icy roads and trails. However, both in Florida and in Michigan, we still find athletes getting the same injuries. Despite the winter slow down, overuse is still a real issue. So, here are three easy ways to help prevent/decrease your chances of getting the "itises":
1. Massage & Bodywork
Receiving regular massage and/or bodywork throughout the whole year will definitely help keep you healthy. Think about your vehicle - you perform regular maintenance on it to improve its longevity, so why not perform regular maintenance on your body? Massage is a great way to become more attuned to your body, recognizing where restrictions, or soreness might be developing. Also, it speeds up recovery by flushing out metabolic waste, bringing in nutrients while decreasing soreness to the overworked muscles, allowing you to exercise with fresh legs the next day. At home, using a foam roller for 30 to 60 seconds for five repetitions has shown to result in an increase in range of motion and a reduction in delayed onset muscle soreness (Button, 2014).
2. Focus on the Basics During Your Off Season
Working on your form during the off-season is a must. Studies show that most people gravitate back to our most habitual movements, which often sets us up for failure. For runners, that means we start mimicking our walking patterns. This may cause over striding and heavy heel striking, which increases our chances of getting hurt. I recommend joining a club or camp and/or working with a coach, or sports specialist. Remember, concentrating on form not only reinforces the movement pattern for your sport, but it also improves your efficiency. This causes your body to utilize less energy, which increases your endurance and will definitely help you set a new PR. As the saying goes “If you don’t use it you lose it.”
3. Cross Train
You never see a professional athlete play his sport and call it a day. These individuals are working side by side with strength and conditioning coaches, hitting the weights, running, spinning, jumping, crawling and anything else that’s thrown at them. The purpose of cross training is to not only maintain your conditioning but also to strengthen the body in ways your primary sport does not. This allows those muscles, tendons, and ligaments that are normally stressed to rest and adapt. So choose activities that are completely different from your sport. Runners may swim to give their bodies a rest from the constant impact force during landing. Cyclists may play racket ball to add impact and multi angular movements that are neglected while riding their bikes.
Remember, listen to your body, keep moving, and always have fun. Cheers!
Button, D. (2014, April).
Foam rolling: Early study findings suggest benefits. Retrieved from https://lermagazine.com/article/foam-rolling-early-study-findings-suggest-benefits
Nicholas Garman, LMT NSCA-CPT