We are excited to partner with Elite Physical Therapy to provide you with performance tips, workout ideas, and rehabilitation suggestions to help you perform at your absolute best throughout your training and activities. In today’s post, Kelly Floyd, owner and Physical Therapist at Elite Physical Therapy, discusses the top three things you should do each week to help you build a strong physical foundation that will help you avoid injuries when you’re active. *
Flexibility is key. It’s something that people don’t deem as necessarily fun, but it’s definitely a foundational element of the health of our bodies, because if you lack flexibility, you’re also going to lack mobility. No matter what activity you are engaging in, if you don’t have flexibility, you can get injured. For example, if you are tight in your hamstrings (which the majority of folks are), you might end up with a back issues or knee issues. It’s a lot like that song we learned when we were kids: “Dem Bones” (you remember – “The knee bone's connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone's connected to the hip bone,…”) That song holds true for the human body. If you’re lacking flexibility in one area, you’re more than likely going to have pain that manifests itself in another area because you’re going to overcompensate with a different part of your body. Therefore, flexibility should be a priority in all that you do.
To improve your flexibility:
- Try to stretch at least three times a day. To easily remember, stretch every time you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Keep in mind that you can’t stretch too often. You should stretch as often as you think about it. You won’t hurt yourself stretching unless you stretch to the point of intense pain, which we obviously don’t recommend.
- If you work at a desk for the majority of your day, try to “get off your seat and on your feet” at least every half hour.
- Make sure that you warm up before you participate in an activity (e.g. soccer, basketball, running, etc). Use movements from that activity, but just at a lower intensity level. Equally as important, though, is making sure you stretch after you’ve played. This will help prevent cramping and issues down the line.
Get your heart pumping! This can be as simple as putting on a pair of quality shoes (details about that are for another post!) and going outside for a walk. Walking for exercise is one of the best things that we can do for our bodies and for building up cardiovascular endurance. The American Heart Association recommends you spend up to thirty minutes at a time, four to five times a week, on cardiovascular activities.
This puts gas in your tank so that you can keep doing all of the different activities that you love to do. It helps you build stamina, helps you build lung capacity, and it gets your muscles moving and trains them to keep going in that forward direction, versus the seated position that most folks have to assume for 40 plus hours a week.
It’s important to strengthen all of the muscles in your body. However, it’s recommended that two-thirds of your strengthening time be spent on core and scapular muscles, versus just the major muscle groups.
This includes your abdominal muscles, your tush muscles, the muscles that run up and down along your spine, and the muscles that are between your shoulder blades. When those muscles are nice and strong, it helps with your posture and posture is key for many, many things. If you have the appropriate posture, even when sitting at a desk, it will help prevent neck and back issues. In addition, having that proper posture will hopefully carry over into your sports and hobbies too. If you’re already training those muscles to hold you in the right position then your body remembers, “Okay, I’m supposed to be upright when I do this. I’m not supposed to be hunched over and slouching.”
Flexibility, cardiovascular endurance and strength training will help you build a strong foundation for your body to ensure you can be active and stay injury free doing the things that you love.
*Please note, you should always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.