Planning to get into shape to play a sport

One of the biggest mistakes that weekend warriors make is to think that their sport is their fitness routine. The professionals go to training camp in the off season and train fundamentals. Anyone who is serious about getting in great shape needs to think along the same lines. The possible exception to this statement is bodybuilding which as a sport is in fact, being in great shape, developing all the muscle groups, eating well and living a clean healthy life (if done naturally).

A proper fitness program is designed to help you get in great shape to play your sport well. Fitness programs are designed to get you strong, keep you strong and to prevent injuries. Recreational athletes in particular need to focus on not just the muscles that are used primarily in their sport but also all the supporting muscles and joints, in order to stay injury free and in order to improve. Typically recreational athletes have certain muscles overdeveloped and other muscle groups remain weak and underdeveloped which leads to imbalance and injury. Many times it is overdeveloped hip flexors, chest and calves accompanied with underdeveloped core and glutes.

Many weekend warriors also overestimate their overall fitness level because they may be good at their sport, but not well-conditioned overall. How many times have I heard from men who do physical labor that they don’t need a fitness program because they work construction, or farm or do other types of manual labor, or also from women with little kids who claim that they are in great shape because they are running after their kids all day? Sorry, but none of those activities constitute a balanced or complete fitness program; neither does just playing a sport. If you have muscle imbalances, areas of poor mobility or flexibility, those areas need to be addressed by a comprehensive fitness assessment and program so that they can be corrected before injury ensues.

Using foam rollers and trigger point release with a tennis ball can positively impact flexibility. Stabilization with single leg movements, and stability ball moves can help balance. These fundamentals to fitness are important not just for the weekend warrior but also for clients of all ages and fitness levels. Once the fundamentals are set down, the workouts can progress through endurance training, speed, agility and power, if those are important goals. Many people who are just wanting to be in great shape will not necessarily progress through all levels of fitness, but everyone should start with balance and flexibility. I can’t think of any exceptions to this.

The other aspect to a sane workout schedule is progression. It should be planned progression. If a person is a recreational athlete who has an on-season and an off-season workouts should be geared toward that reality, and always have basic training in place so the athlete is never de-conditioned.

Although the human body is amazingly adaptive and can compensate for inefficiencies in movement and imbalances in structure, inevitability, knee pain, backaches, shoulder pain, headaches, hip problems, foot pain and so on, catch up with us if we do nothing to correct the imbalances and inefficiencies in movement. The way that people live their lives, hooked up to computers, cellphones, desks, cars and other machines, predisposes us to injury. Life and sports are dangerous pursuits. Exercise when done properly is safe and effective in righting many physical wrongs. Poor posture and over training the same set of muscles sets us up for chronic pain. Strategic exercise helps us be strong and balanced and move effectively.

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Jane Riley is a certified nutritional adviser. She can be reached at janerileyfitness@gmail.com, (808) 212-1451 and janerileyfitness.com

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