After years being a track and field athlete and climbing my way to making an Olympic team, I decided I have to pass this information on as a high school coach. One thing I have quickly learned throughout my career as well as being a coach is to make sure the critical question is answered. The critical question is “can your body last the season?” If the answer is no, then nothing else will matter. It does not matter how good you look on paper when the paper gets torn. You could put together an A+ training program but if everyone is hurt who cares. An athlete can do all the mental training, have the greatest offseason workouts but if they are not healthy when it matters then their season is LOST!
Are You Focused On The Right Things?
I consider this to be a focusing question and we all need them in life. When it comes to the tasks you do every day for example, you want to start by doing the one functions that will make your entire day easier or may every other task-irrelevant. Here is an example:
If you focus on cleaning your house and the fact that you have to cook dinner. That could be your focus, but if another task you have is calling a maid to come and cook and clean for you, that should be done first. Once you order the maid, she will make those other tasks irrelevant.
In sports, we focus on improvement. We want to be faster, jump higher, move better, score more, win more, get awards, etc…That all sounds great, but they are not the things that matter. They are like cooking and cleaning your house all day. The reason being is because if one injury strikes all of those things become irrelevant.
What all this means is that the focus needs to be on athlete health. The health question is the focusing question that makes everything else not matter.
Why Do We Miss This?
The reason the focusing question is easy to miss is that it is often not the sexy option for athletes. It is not sexy to say that you are doing prehab to make sure you don’t get it hurt. But it is hot to be grinding with your team and pushing yourself to the max. Athletes love the grind which is a good thing, but the grind is more than what you do at practice. The grind is the extra little things you do to stay healthy.
It is how driving your care is about more than driving your car. If all you do is drive your car, eventually you will run out of gas. If all you do is turn your car and fill it up with gas ultimately, you have to change the oil. You also have to rotate those tires. These are the little things that add up, but they matter. When you get a new car, and you take care of it, that means frequent oil changes, car washes, you rotate the tires on time, you get new tires when they are needed, you make sure that the car is healthy from the inside out. At that point, the car will drive you to where you need.
Too Much Demand?
Many athletes demand more from their bodies than they are willing to put into their body. There are only two results when this happens. You run out of gas or your car breaks down. For your body that means you slow down because you’re overtrained, or you get an injury. Neither of those options is good.
These means the focusing question should always remind you to invest in your body.
- Eat more veggies
- Drink more water
- Sleep more at night
- Take naps if possible
- Take your rest days seriously
- Focus on a daily routine that helps you to stay healthy
- Download Kho to ask injury questions when they are smaller injuries
What is a Daily Routine That Helps With Health?
Everyone will have a daily routine that is different because we all have our unique collection of injuries. Here is what most athletes do when they get hurt. They panic and go and get help and start a rehab program. When the injury begins to feel better, the exercises that helped things feel better to begin to disappear. A couple of months later the pain comes back, and when you asked if they still do the rehab, they say no.
The goal of this routine is to keep doing the exercises but just let times a week and month then they were done before. During rehab, there is something you may do daily. Now you only do them once a week to help maintain the state of your body. If consistently run through all your rehabs for all of your injuries every week or month, you will be in a much better situation.
Handling things this way is a much better long-term play than just stopping when you feel good. If you always finish when you feel good you injuries will return every time. For some injuries and bodies, rehab is something you must always do to stay healthy. It sucks, but it is the truth.
In my time as a sprinter at Iowa State. I had a lot of issues with my lower back and hamstrings. I knew what to do to get them feeling better, but then I would get lazy and stop once they felt better. The problem is when I had a sat back or an injury again, it would cost me MONTHS of training. It was not worth it. Putting in an extra 10 minutes every day on rehab made more sense than the chance of missing months.
That is an excellent example of what success looks like. It is doing the little things every day that unsuccessful people think are meaningless. Success is about consistent effort day in and day out that no one will ever see. You can get praised for having a good practice. You will never get any love for doing your rehab daily, but at seasons end it will pay off.