Great athletes are typically good at listening to their coaches and their teammates. But they’re not always so good at listening to themselves. The key to being a top athlete is trusting that your body knows what you need better than your brain does.
Moodiness, sleeping problems and when workouts go badly, are all signs that your body needs a rest. The stress of other demands in a person’s life may also spill over athletic performance. There are many steps you can take to prepare and protect your body for the rigours of competitive sport:
Stretching: Taking the time to stretch after exercise can be incredibly effective at protecting your body after sport. Contrary to popular belief, stretching before exercise does little to prevent injury. For maximum effectiveness, you should do one 60 second stretch for each muscle group.
Footwear: Do not underestimate the importance of good footwear. Trainers are becoming increasingly technical so make sure you take the time to get your footwear properly fitted before you start your exercise. It’s important that you wear the right footwear for relevant sports. For example, golf shoes such as those from Function 18 are completely tailored for the modern-day golfer and would not be appropriate for running or high impact sports.
Hydration: The most effective thing you can do to look after your body when exercising is to stay hydrated. Dehydration can affect both your general health and how well you can exercise. You’ll feel tired more quickly if you’re dehydrated, and you won’t be able to control your temperature as well as usual. Water helps fuel your muscles, so drinking before, during and after exercise will boost your energy levels, and may help to prevent cramp.
Nutrition: Perhaps one of the hardest challenges for any aspiring athlete is ensuring that their eating is consistent with their training. You should always eat something before exercising so your body has enough fuel to power through your workout. Proper nutrition can fuel your exercise and help your body recover and adapt at a faster rate.
Sleep and rest: Sleep give your body time to recover, conserve energy, and repair and build up the muscles worked during exercise. When we get enough good quality sleep, the body produces hormones that are essential for athletic recovery.
Regardless of how much planning and preparation we make, injuries can still happen, no matter how careful you are. If you develop a workout injury, follow the RICE method to keep your injury from getting worse:
R: Rest the injury.
I: Ice the injury to reduce swelling and inflammation.
C: Apply a compression bandage to minimize swelling.
E: Elevate the injury to reduce swelling.