Summer offers an opportunity for a break from the norm, but it shocks me how many of the athletes I work with use the opportunity to do more of the same. They play more of the same sports they play all year. They spend more time exercising in the same old ways they always have and go at the same pace they have all year long. Here are a few ideas to help shake up your routine and help you become a healthier, better-rounded athlete.
We know that athletes that play only one sport 12 months a year are more likely to incur an injury, so why not take up a new sport this summer? Several emerging sports are gaining traction and offer opportunities to newbies to learn how to play. Some sports gaining a lot of popularity in the Midwest include Ultimate Frisbee, Lacrosse, and Rugby. Picking up a new sport can challenge your body in new ways, which can actually help make you stronger and less likely to be injured in your primary sport.
Is a completely new sport too much for you to handle? Why not try a new twist on a favorite? Beach football, trail running, and disc golf are great ways to keep some of your skills fresh while engaging your body in novel ways. Beach variations of sports require more strength and power out of your legs and core to generate power and the unstable playing surface can help develop stability. Trail running presents new challenges – uneven surfaces, logs to jump over, etc – that can help break up the monotony of a run on the street. A game like disc golf can be played anywhere, which means you can incorporate competition into a hike or nature walk.
For most people, the summer offers up some free time that can let you take classes and learn some new methods of staying in shape. This extra time is the perfect opportunity to try a new approach to exercise that requires some individualized instruction to get started like CrossFit, kettlebells, or yoga. If those are too extreme, try a more subtle change. If you’re a distance runner, try running some sprints or hills. If you rarely leave the weight room, try a good on-ramp running program like Couch to 5k. You’ll probably find some crossover benefit from whatever new conditioning you try.
Summertime means farmer’s markets and novel foods. While there are a ton of approaches to nutrition in athletes, pretty much everyone agrees that adding in some fruits and vegetables is a good idea. Your local farmer’s market is a great chance to find a new nutritious food and learn how to incorporate into a dish. Most people working at farmer’s markets love to give you tips on how to cook up some foods that may be new to you, so don’t be afraid to ask “What the heck do you do with this?” More nutrient-dense foods means a healthier, less inflamed body, which will help improve your performance.
It’s extremely important to take some time off no matter what sport you compete in. Catching up on rest and allowing your body to fully recoup can be invaluable for staving off overuse injuries and preventing burnout. Resting is probably the hardest thing for most athletes to do, but it can go a long ways towards helping you excel when the regular season rolls around.
What do you plan on trying this summer? Let us know in the comments!
If you are experiencing any aches or pains, stop by any Athletico Physical Therapy for a Free Injury Screening. We can evaluate your aches/pains and provide you with options for continued care.
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