As school sports wrap up and summer begins, you may feel like a car that needs a tune-up after a cross-country trip.
Follow these sports conditioning and wellness tips to re-charge your mental and physical "batteries" and address any health or performance weaknesses. That way, you'll be in top form before next season's first practice or tryout.
Pay attention to lingering aches & pains
Don't ignore chronic joint or muscle soreness, lower-back stiffness, recurring headaches or other aches and pains from your sports season. Thinking the pain will disappear over the summer in time for your sports physical can backfire. Tell your school athletic trainer or team doctor now, so you can take the necessary steps to heal and pass your sports physical exam for next season.
Headaches could be the result of one or more concussions sustained in practices or games. Make sure to get medical clearance for sports participation.
Also, get your heart and blood pressure checked for any issues that could keep you sidelined. And foot problems (e.g., plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, bunions, corns, blisters) are like nails in car tires, stopping you from going the distance. See a podiatrist and fix your feet.
Address mental lapses or low energy during games and practices
Your sleep and dietary habits could be to blame. Starting now and throughout the 2015-16 school year, make it a point to stay hydrated before, during and after workouts, practices and games. Consume nutritious foods and beverages and regularly get at least eight or nine hours of sleep per night to optimize your academic and athletic performance.
Plan summer sports conditioning workouts to address weak points
- Did you run out of gas at the end of practices or games from deficient aerobic conditioning? Boost stamina and endurance by incorporating sprints and long-distance running, cycling, rowing or swimming in your conditioning program. Take shorter rest periods between sets and exercises in the weight room, or perform supersets and circuit training every other workout.
- Has limited range of motion deterred you from reaching for that errant pass? Flexibility could be the issue. Do regular full-body dynamic warm-up stretches before activity and cool-down upper- and lower-body static stretches after.
- Were you weaker and slower than your opponents this past season? Building strength and size and improving speed may be priorities during off-season conditioning. Following a consistent weight training program and adding multi-directional sprints after each workout this summer can give you a competitive edge in the fall.
- Trouble maintaining balance? Perhaps weak core muscles are to blame. Perform Prone and Side Planks to strengthen abdominal and lower-back muscle. Also perform Single-Leg Squats and balance on one leg for several seconds to improve balance.
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