For a fab fortnight, the 2012 Summer Olympics showcased amazing athletes, poignant stories and rousing competition. There's no doubt that the next generation of Olympic athletes were inspired by stars like Gabby Douglas, Missy Franklin and Alyson Felix.
Although it's easy to have Olympic dreams, actually realizing them takes smart training in addition to hard work. Here are three smarter ways to train, courtesy of our heroes from London.
Missy Franklin's first gold medal came in the second of two races scheduled just 15 minutes apart. Hers was an amazing feat. After a 200-meter freestyle semifinal, she had less than ten minutes to recover before her 100-meter backstroke final. Instead of resting, Franklin performed an active cooldown, which allowed her to gently re-circulate blood flow through her muscles. This type of cooldown is more effective than static stretching and is definitely better than inactivity.
Regardless of the sport, all athletes can profit from movement analysis. It helps Olympians make sure their form is precise. Video analysis is crucial for feedback on technique. Smart phone and tablet apps, such as Coach's Eye, make it increasingly easy for athletes to benefit from such feedback. Also, more and more sports physical therapists and strength and conditioning specialists have access to advanced software to analyze biomechanics.
Even with world-class medical care, Olympic athletes are at risk for injuries, just like the rest of us. These athletes work incredibly hard to return to their sport. For example, Misty May-Treanor came back from a ruptured Achilles tendon to win her third gold medal. Injuries are often difficult to deal with, but dedication to proper rehabilitation makes it possible to return to high level competition.
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