Machine's Healthy Living Tip of the Week
Injury...the scariest word for any athlete or serious fitness junkie! It is not a word we like to hear, it is not a subject we like to discuss. A most dreaded topic, indeed! It is almost as if by making mere mention of the word, that all of a sudden, we will be plagued by any number of injuries or ailments. Whether it be the horrific pain of plantar fasciitis, the nagging irritation of runner's knee, the most awful snapping of the Achilles Tendon or the terrible tearing of the ACL...any and all can send even the most fit and positive thinking among us, into a depressive, debilitating tailspin.
Suddenly, we are stopped in our tracks and left wondering what is to become of our bodies... the bodies that we have demanded so much from, that we have pushed so hard, that we have convinced ourselves are invincible. It is a frightening moment, this realization, that we may be sidelined for weeks, even months at a time. Even more concerning, is the possibility that we may have done lasting and permanent damage, thereby, ensuring us that our performance will be forever compromised.
The ugliness of it all is too much to bear! It is all we can do not to curl up in a ball and let our muscles wither away...
So, let's not even get to the point of injury...let us instead focus on preventing injury and keeping our physically fit selves in top-notch performance condition!
Being that we are most likely, a bit obsessive-compulsive in nature and that we are constantly looking for that peak, that edge that will get us to perform our best; we may invite injury. We may just have a tendency to overdo it. Perhaps be a bit relentless in our drive to exceed already insanely high expectations...we are just a bit competitive. Some might say that we border on masochistic when it comes to training.
While this dedicated approach to fitness and sport is admirable, and it will be hard to convince this "Machine" otherwise, it may not be the most effective...kills to admit that!
Perhaps what needs to be done is laying off a little...giving the body the proper amount of recovery time between races, games, matches, whatever it may be. This is not to say that we should just plop down on the sofa and start inhaling the leftover Halloween candy while watching Celebrity Fit Club or some other such nonsense. It simply means that we should allow ourselves adequate amounts of rest. We should factor in an "off" day, where we do not go for a run, or even head to the gym. We should also employ cross-training...it is a great way to keep ourselves at the top of the fitness pyramid without risking the occurrence of an overuse injury.
Proper stretching is also very important. Not the stretching that we all were put through in our gym classes way back when, but dynamic stretching that gets the body warmed up before we seriously engage in our chosen activity. It is so important to loosen and stretch the body's tendons and muscles, as well as get the heart pumping a bit. Jumping right into intense physical activity from a completely static state is a definite invitation to injury. Going for a light ten minute jog and doing plyometric types of stretches and movements will offer so much protection from injury and will also enhance your performance. This should be done at the start of your workout/event and then a cool down period at the end of your training/event is also a must.
And of course, we must fuel our bodies well. Without the necessary nutrients, we most assuredly risk injury. Our bodies require that we feed them, and that we feed them healthy, natural, wholesome food. As much as we cannot overeat and expect to perform at our best, we cannot skimp on calories and expect great results. By not eating a well balanced diet, we open the door to stress fractures, lean muscle deterioration, and overall fatigue. So, eat up those fruits, vegetables and wholegrains...take in that protein and even a bit of fat!
No mention of that "I" word will be made again...just remember, there is much that can be done to keep ourselves from stumbling into that nasty land of stagnation. We can keep strong and healthy, it simply takes a bit of common sense and a bit of practice. We must be kind to our bodies and understand that the more care we take with them, the longer we will be able to perform and compete. If that is not a good thought, I don't know what is...