Staying injury-free is no easy task. And as our age creeps upward, the challenge gets more and more difficult.
As a physical therapist and certified athletic trainer in the National Football League for 26 years, I worked with elite, strong, high-skilled professional athletes with an unlimited budget to keep them healthy. In stark contrast, look at what you and I are faced with to keep ourselves healthy: Non-elite, older weekend warriors on a limited budget with full-time jobs and families to work around!
This is the reason why I’ve focussed my business around helping non-professional athletes to move pain-free with an active lifestyle. With my Passion Mission Statement: “To Enhance the Health of Others”, I want to share elite sports medicine tips, normally reserved for elite professional athletes, with you and your active fiends.
Learning Wellness From Others: the Good & Bad
I’ve been very blessed to continue to have a long, competitive athletic career but it has not been an easy journey. I’ve have lots of injuries and struggles but I’ve learned from every “bump in the road”. In addition, I’ve learned from the struggles, mistakes, errors and successes of the athletes I’ve worked with over the past 35+ years in the sports medicine profession.
Learning from our errors and mistakes is powerful. But learning from the errors and mistakes of others saves us pain, money and time.
I want to share 5 quick, proven sports medicine tips to keep you “in the game” and, as my wife will agree, allot easier to live with.
Tips to Stay Injury-Free
- Ask the Key Question – Before starting a new exercise or workout, ask yourself this important question: “Is the RISK of this worth the REWARD?”. It’s a simple and powerful way to keep you healthy. It’s certainly a wiser step than reflecting back after you’ve been injured painfully saying “what was I thinking?!”.
- Keep on Rolling – As author of “Foam Rolling for Dummies”, I’m a huge fan of foam rollers and rollerballs. They make it super easy to keep your muscles very flexible and your joints limber.
- Joint Friendly – I like to keep my patients’ workouts and treatments what I call “joint friendly”. Being wise with exercises we do properly loads our joints. This, in turn, makes our muscles work harder while promoting healthy joint mechanics. Here’s a trick I use when exercising: I ask myself: “Does my _____ joint(s) like this motion?” If my joints are happy but my muscles are unhappy from predictable fatigue, I know I’m getting stronger without hurting my joints.
- Have a Plan – I see too many patients get hurt because they just rolled into the gym and blindly jumped into a workout their friend or personal trainer came up with that morning. Knowing what you want to accomplish (improved cardio fitness, stronger core, increased hip range of motion, faster running speed,…etc.) then structuring a workout based on your needs is the wise move. If designing workouts is not in your skillset, use specialists around you to structure the workouts based on YOUR needs, medical history and level of fitness.
- Manage Your Pain – For 99% of us over 30 years old, aches and pains are part of fitness and wellness. Managing your pains wisely is a must. Anyone who knows me knows I commonly tell athletes: “Ice is your best friend”. Minimizing the use of anti-inflammatories, pain medicine and injections is a no-brainer but they’re used way too often. Listen to your body to determine how your muscles and joints respond to rollers, cold baths/showers, stretching routines, HawkGrip scraping, active rest, cupping, episom salt baths, and massages. If many of those previously listed tricks are new to you, get ready to be shocked by how positively impactful they are to your recovery and your ability to stay injury-free.
Never give up on your passion to call yourself an “athlete” while living the active lifestyle that makes you happy. Take these 5 tips and apply them to your wellness game plan, workouts and body maintenance routine. It will require more time and effort on your part but, when it comes to being healthy and happy, it’s well worth the effort.