Contributing Author: Lisa Chase, PT, CFMM, OMPT, Astym Certified
Fundamentally, the key to any optimal training program is balance. Overtraining, overdoing and under-recovering all throw this balance between stress and recovery out of whack, flattening out or even reversing your climb toward long-term health and fitness.
- Regulate the amount of training and periodize your schedule to peak during your event.
- Have rest days each week and plan your training schedule with regular, short breaks.
- Avoid heavy training intensity right before competition, such as boot camps, CrossFit style workouts, etc.
- Cross train to help give your muscles a break from repeated activity, such as running. Check out how Back 2 Normal uses the ElliptiGO to improve performance and prevent injury.
- Incorporate proper stretching and core stability exercises.
- Work with a credentialed coach, certified fitness trainer or licensed physical therapist to help set a proper schedule.
- Schedule an Injury Risk Assessment at Back 2 Normal to evaluate if your movement patterns are setting you up for injury.
Incorporate Proper Warm Up
Research shows that using only static stretching (holding a stretch in one position for 15-30 seconds) before a sport activity actually relaxes muscles and reduces its ability to produce power. To perform your best in any sport, start with a 5-minute cardiovascular activity and then perform 5-10 minutes of dynamic movements that mimic the activities you are getting ready to perform. Save static stretching for post exercise/sport.
Active rest and recovery is critically important, and helps you to bounce back after training. Perform proper cool down after exercise or sport activity.
- Use cardiovascular activity (5-10 minutes) that gradually decreases in intensity, such as a light jog or cycling on a stationary bike.
- Perform static stretching routine for 5-10 minutes.
- Keep good body alignment to stretch correctly to prevent injury.
- Stretch to the first point of resistance, hold 20-30 seconds; then relax and gently release the stretch. Return to start position, rest 5 seconds. Repeat a couple of times.
- Hold the stretch. Ballistic (bouncing) stretching increases your risk of injury without added benefits.
- Use hydrotherapy & cryotherapy to enhance recovery, such as:
- Alternate warm & cool shower 3-4 times to help stimulate muscle recovery, or take a quick dip in a cold plunge pool to reduce joint aches and lower body temperature.
- Take an Epsom salt bath with warm water for 20 minutes to help relax muscles, and reduce soreness & stiffness the next day.
- Use ice bag, ice massage or ice bath to injured area after cool down.
- Integrate whole body cryotherapy, which promotes the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response, releases endorphins, affects the body’s perception of symptomatic pain and improves overall health. Check out our partner Elite Body Cryotherapy.
- Use compression stockings 2-3 hours post-sport or training session to boost recovery.
- Massage within 2 hours or by the next day after the training, practice or competition. If massage is not available, try the following:
- MELT Method, a self-treatment technique using a soft foam roller and treatment balls – effective in helping to decrease pain, inflammation, and accumulated stress; as well as improve function and enhance sports performance.
- “The Stick” (available thru our office) – to help work out trigger points.
- Restorative Yoga Postures and Meditation Practices
- Incorporate restorative yoga postures and/or meditation at the end of your training sessions, or at bedtime, to help rejuvenate your mind and body.
Ensure Proper Shoe & Sock Fit
Your low back pain or achy knee might be related to your sneakers. Choosing the correct shoe for your foot type and activity can prevent injury and enhance functional performance.
- Check shoes regularly, and replace when worn. Running shoes may wear out the outsole and midsole at the same rate, but it is not unusual to see the midsole wear out first. Start checking your running shoes for wear and tear after 2-3 months or 300 miles. Running shoes typically do not last more than 500 miles.
- Socks are an often-overlooked piece of equipment. They provide an athlete with function, comfort and the potential to prevent injury. Sock technology helps control moisture, dissipate heat, provide cushion, shock absorption and resists friction.
When fueling your body, it’s best to choose foods & beverages that are nutrient-dense, energy-supplying & healing; and that provide benefits above & beyond strength or speed in the short-term. Work one-on-one with a holistic nutrition expert to learn proper sports performance and recovery guidelines, as well as how to minimize inflammation which will allow you to train harder and more often. Essentials include pre-and-post workout meals/snacks, recipes, alkaline vs. acidity, superfoods, and more!
Keep a Training Diary
Monitor your daily training, competition, sleep (how much and the quality), morning heart rate (before you get up), your mood, and your motivation. It can help you detect critical changes that could be early warning signs of overtraining or potential risk to injury. A trained sports physical therapist can instruct you how to use these diaries.
Practice Mind Power
Manage performance anxiety. Focusing on past events or future possibilities or irrelevancies is a waste of energy and contributes to fatigue. Learn and use skills such as imagery, relaxation & self-talk to reduce stress and improve performance.
Get Quality Sleep
For all of us, sleep is an important part of maintaining optimum health. For athletes, sleep is a crucial pillar of success. Sleep has a significant impact on performance, wins, and losses. Sleep deprivation can increase levels of the catabolic stress hormone, cortisol, and as also been seen to decrease production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy use during physical activity. In short, a lack of quality sleep increases the likelihood of fatigue, low energy, poor focus, and slowed recovery
Watch for Early Warning Signs
When to See a Physical Therapist:
- Recurrent stiffness/tightness that does not resolve with stretching.
- Swelling, warmth or pain over joints or muscles that does not resolve within 72 hours.
- Loss of range of motion, function or sports performance.
Prevent overtraining & injuries using the help of our athletic performance and recovery specialists, and let us guide you with the most effective practices. We offer a wellness-focused & supportive environment that can help you achieve your goals. Be sure to check our social media and blog updates for regular wellness inspiration, information, offers and support.
The Back 2 Normal blog is an educational resource written by Back 2 Normal employees and professional associates. Back 2 Normal bloggers are professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.