Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ready, Set….Prepare….Go

Spring is here and it’s time to rev things up!

This month I want to talk a bit about progression because as the days get longer and warmer we tend to jump into activities, sometimes at a high level, without training appropriately. Any of you that are in your 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond have probably noticed a greater tendency towards injury. Sometimes these annoying injuries seem to happen without much effort and it leads one to think that those great days of being active are over. Not!!
Too often I’ll meet men and women who admittedly do little daily basic training for a sport and then go out and play for the first time in years and try to perform like they are still in college shape. Muscles have great memory, unfortunately they need to be used regularly in order to stand up to forceful loads. The brain remembers how you used to perform and sends that signal to the body to go for it. The human body is a big load and put into motion can create tremendous force on joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments (not to mention cardio-respiratory system)…and your body may not be conditioned for the stress. If you are not doing consistent training for strength, endurance, flexibility, cardio, speed or agility than it isn’t a good idea to go out and play a highly competitive game of tennis, basketball or soccer. These are all examples of sports that require “reaction”, not a whole lot of time to decide if you should “go there”. Explosive power does not come without training. Power, speed and agility require training and diminish over time when not challenged on a regular basis. When a muscle contracts with force, another part of the body may not be able to handle that force.
Of course there are physiological aspects of aging that we all have to address and respect but it IS possible to remain quite competitive for many, many years. Your bones may not be as strong as they once were and soft tissues of the body may not be as elastic or responsive. A recent report in Sports Health suggests that bone mineral density can increase significantly in older athletes who participate in high impact sports. But there is always increased risk with increased intensity especially for older adults so it’s important to look at training as a process. Progressive training allows you to make smart decisions as to what your body is capable of doing and how far you can go. You will develop confidence that you are training smart and it makes all the difference in performance. This will inspire you to keep as active as you can for as long as you can!
So gang, make a list of all the physical things you want to do this spring and summer and get the body ready specifically for that. If possible progress from walk, to run, to sprint, to jump. Keep whatever vertical range of motion you can by reaching high and going low. Train the body on all planes of motion so you can move forward/back, side/side and rotate….creating great body balance. Develop a strong core so that all movement is controlled. Find a functional balance between upper and lower body strength and motion. We all have limitations to some degree; our individual journey is to make the most of what we have to work with. And then….we win!!

~ Kari