What You Should Do For Activity Cycling And Pre-Season Training.

By: Eric Faatz, MS, ATC

Exercise and sport activities are two of the best ways to increase your cardiovascular health, build and maintain musculoskeletal tissue, and overall increase ones mood through a means of stress relief. The reason that our bodies respond with such positive outcomes is due to our ability to adapt to the activity that we enjoy taking part in. For example, as we start to get better at running the lower extremity and core muscles develop, the heart becomes stronger and more efficient at pumping blood, and the lungs capacity to use oxygen increases. These adaptations are what make exercising and participation in sports a great addition to anyone’s lifestyle. With such amazing benefits one might think that the more often and the longer we participate in our chosen activity the better the benefits will be! This where our bodies become very complicated. 

In a study by Neeru Jayanthi, MD et al, 2013 May, it was identified through survey that specialization in sports/activity increased the rates of injury, increased psychological stress, and quitting sports at a young age. Another study by M. Kellman Scand J Med Sci Sports 2010, indicated that participation in a sport/activity for a prolonged period can cause chronic over-fatigue, increased injury risk, decreased cognitive performance and lower metabolic rate. The possibility of this happening might be enough to deter someone from sport/activity participation. But there is a way to continue enjoying the activities that we enjoy doing, while minimizing the negative side effects and increasing the ability to reap the benefits. 

This concept is called periodization or activity cycling. While this can be complicated, it can also be as easy as having planned breaks in your sports or activity regime. A general good practice rule would be that every 8 to 10 weeks of participation should be followed with at least 2 weeks of a break from that particular activity. During this 2 week break period, we should aim to still be active within a separate form of exercise. Instead of playing tennis, we could instead 

go hiking as a form of exercise or go swimming to limit the amount of force going through our joints and muscle to allow for proper recovery. During this time, it is also wise to address any weaknesses, inflexibilities, or asymmetries you may have throughout your body. This will ensure optimal level of function and performance while lowering your risk of injury for when you return to your activity. Best way to address any asymmetries is to consult with a medical professional such as a Physical Therapist or a Certified Athletic Trainer.  These health care professionals specialize in performing complete and thorough functional and postural assessments and screenings. With these findings, they would be able to create a unique exercise program that can be a preseason or pre-activity program that’s geared towards injury prevention and improving your sports performance. The same goes for athletes that need to prepare for pre-season. As we all either know or have experienced, pre-season can be tough on the body – really tough. However, the healthcare professionals listed above can help. They would be able to help prepare and address any potential issues so the athlete can avoid an injury before the season even starts.

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