Your Guide to Staying Healthy and Injury Free
There is nothing quite like the utter devastation of training 8 months for a race and finding yourself injured only weeks before the event materializes. Many of my fellow athletes find themselves in this predicament all too often.
Some athletes are more injury-prone than others due to their genetic makeup, but there are also techniques to avoid injury. I owe it to my high school cross country and track and field coach for ingraining in me many of the concepts I will discuss.
I have 4 main tenants to staying injury free:
1) Eat and drink well. You’ve got to keep your body a well-oiled machine. Keeping hydrated and fed properly is one of the most important steps to maintaining healthy muscles, bones, skin and mind.
2) Proper stretching. We now know, through evidence based medicine, that static stretching before exercise does no good. At this time, the muscles are cold and less elastic. It is even thought now, in the Exercise Science world, that static stretching before exercise could potentially increase the chance of injury.
This type of static stretching CAN be used AFTER exercise and should be directed at the areas that feel sore or tight. Target large muscles like the hamstrings, quads, calfs, hips, lower back, arms and neck. Take your time here and don’t push anything that really feels painful. Try to hold your stretches for 30 seconds and repeat.
3 Feel Good Stretches:
- The Pretzel: Fold your right leg over your left, take your left arm and twist your torso, repeat on the other side.
- The “Give Yourself a Hug”: Lay on your back, bring your legs to your chest and give your legs a hug. You can gently rotate your body to each side or drop each leg and hug only one at a time.
- The Cross & Drop: Crossing one leg over the other, gently bend over and let your body drop down towards your toes. You certainly don’t have to touch your toes! Switch sides and let your body just hang and relax. Enjoy the gentle stretch.
3) Dynamic Stretching is what should be happening BEFORE pushing your body to a higher intensity. In this type of stretching, you are gently preparing the muscles of your body to do the intense activity. This phase of warm up could take 10-15 minutes. You will start with range of motion exercises that mimic the activity that you are preparing for.
This would take place in a series of steps, here are a few basic ones for running:
- Walking or jogging very easily for a couple of minutes
- Marching using an exaggerated arm and leg movement where you are bringing your knees up high
- Front to Back Leg Swinging in Place
- Side to Side Leg Swinging in Place
- High knee skip
- Arm Swings Across chest
- High knee jog
- Butt kick jog
4) And last but not least the FOAM ROLLER. Gosh, I love that thing. It hurts so good! The goal is to foam roll BEFORE your workout and after if you want to. By rolling BEFORE, you will get the benefit of injury prevention. Rather than just rolling back and forth, roll until you hit the tenderest spot and stay there for 60 seconds. Concentrate on that sweet tender spot and don’t forget to breath through it. Relax your mind and relax your body.
- Roll your back, mid and upper
- Roll your IT band
- Roll your piriformis
- Roll your adductors
Have you had an injury while training? How did you get through it? Share with us on social media! @LivCycling #TryATri