No one wants to be injured, but sadly a lot of athletes don’t recognize that there are a lot of small things that can be done on your own to stay healthy. It takes a bit of creativity and a lot of effort to follow through on.
That effort is worth it though because getting hurt after training your butt off for an entire off-season is horrible! No matter how hard you work or how talented you are if you cannot stay healthy you will never reach your potential.
That is all you want at the end of the day right? To be able to sit back and be happy with the fact that none of your talents was wasted.
Some injuries are due to contact and can’t be avoided entirely, but there are always things you can do in the off-season to make sure that you are staying healthy. It comes down to resources and tapping into the right things, and people at the right times. Staying healthy is about understanding what you need and then finding a way to attack that.
Everyone is susceptible to certain injuries. Whether it be hamstring injuries, concussions or shoulder problems. It is your job to figure out where your weak points are so you can find ways to protect those areas.
Most people say you need to focus on your strengths and I agree with this, but when it comes to injuries, the opposite is true. You can’t just work on your strong areas because you create bigger gaps for potential injuries.
How boring is this for a key to staying healthy? You would be shocked what buying a good water bottle will do. Every athlete I know that does an excellent job staying hydrated carries a nice water bottle with them. They treat their water bottle as if it is a treasure. Plastic water bottles are cheap and disposable, so we often forget them and treat them like crap. We treat things like crap because we feel like they don’t matter.
Here is why staying hydrated matters. Our body is made mostly of water and without being hydrated it cannon function properly. Our body craves water for organ function and other important tasks. Being more athlete-specific though, our muscles need water to function properly. Any good therapist you see can tell just by touching you whether your muscles are hydrated or not.
The best thing you can do moving forward is drink as much water as you can right when you wake up. The reason for this is because after sleeping your body naturally becomes dehydrated. You will notice when you do this that it will also help to wake you up which is a bonus.
The second thing you want to do to stay hydrated is to carry the bottle everywhere that you go. Since you have already rehydrated from the morning, the goal is to maintain that hydration throughout the day. There are water tracking apps that can help you to measure how much water you drink daily.
Stretching bands are a great way to make stretching on a daily basis a bit more fun. Yes, you read that right, I said stretching every day! You can’t expect to train daily and beat your body up without taking care of it! It does not work that way. Stretching is a great way to relax, and gauge how your muscles are feeling so you can think more about what else you need to recover.
Stretching bands allow you to be a bit lazier when stretching because the bands can help put you in the best position. The bands also come with different levels of tension for different stretches. Some are just for simple arm stretches; whereas some of the thicker ones can hold all of your body weight.
The reason getting these bands helps because they are an investment. We take things more seriously when it costs you something. Right now, stretching is free and not doing it is not a waste of anything. When you get these bands though, all of a sudden you have something you have invested a bit more of yourself into it.
Always have Kho ready to download on your phone. The app lets you get connected with an injury community of athletes and health care providers to get solutions. The reason you want to have Kho at all times is that it can be used before you are injured. The smart athletes use the app, so they don’t get injured. Most people wait until they are hurt, or have been hurt for months to use the app. What you want to do is get in the habit of asking questions right away.
The quicker you ask your questions, the easier they are to deal with. Think of it like cancer. It is better to catch cancer in its much earlier stages than to wait until it spreads an get bad. Injuries are the same if something hurts a tiny bit, but you can still practice and compete on it that is ok. Make sure that you use the app to get some help just to make sure.
The other great thing about the Kho community is that the health care advice is not traditional. What this means is that the solution to every problem is not drugs and surgery. Much of the community is all about helping people with the most natural means necessary.
A journal can help you stay healthy in the long run. If you use the journal and you document everything happening with your injuries and workouts you will start to notice patterns. Maybe you only get hurt on days that you do plyometric work. Maybe you only get hurt when you seem to skip breakfast.
The point of the journal is to record everything that you can so you have the insights and then try and learn from them later. To make this work, you must have a long-term focus. Picture this. You have been training for ten years, and you have all the food you have eaten, every injury, every workout and how you felt each day all recorded! Imagine how much you can learn from that.
Tips on What to Record In Journal
- Workout for the day
- What you ate that day
- How much water you drank
- New injuries
- How old injuries are doing
- How you felt
You know this list could never be complete without talking about the power of the foam roller. The foam roller is like having a mini therapist in your bag. If you are not already foam rolling day, you are missing out big time.
First things first, a foam roller does not replace an excellent massage therapist, but most athletes don’t have the money to see a therapist as many times as they really should. Most athletes should be in the office getting preventative treatment at least three times a week. Some people will do one a week and then make the other days up with some intensive foam rolling.
Tips for Foam Rolling
- Roll slowly until you find a pain point
- Stick on that spot for a minute
- Hit tender spots from multiple angles if possible
- Foam roll before stretching
- Get in the routine of foam rolling daily
Anatomy Trains is an excellent book to help you as an athlete understand how the entire boy is connected. There are no individual muscles there is just one body that works together. This is the reason that if one muscle is tight, it can cause problems in many other areas.
The book has a picture of human dissection, and it shows the entire body from the bottom of the foot to the top of the skull connected through that is called the backline. By reading this, you will better understand how to foam roll and stretch better. Look at it like this, a lot of sports medicine professionals use the book to learn how to treat.
Fruits and Veggies
There are so many diets out there, so I am not going to knock or support any one diet. The one thing diets have in common is the consumption of veggies. There is no denying that our bodies love to eat veggies. The nutrients found in different veggies are vital for performing at a high level as an athlete
The reason that fruit made a list is that most of us tend to eat way too much sugar anyway. It is not always realistic to cut sugar out altogether. If you are going to eat sugar get it from an apple instead of from gummy bears.
Tips for Eating Better
- Replace all junk with a single piece of fruit
- Have a portion of veggies with every meal
- Let veggies take up the largest portion of your plate
- Find a different way to cook them to keep things interesting
In the age of Netflix, powerful phones, and constant distraction, the art of sleeping is lost. Sleep is the best thing you can do to stay healthy. If you do everything else on this list well, but you don’t make sure you sleep, you are 100% wasting your time.
Cheetahs are animals that know about high performance. One thing you will notice about them is that they spend most of the day sleeping. The reason they sleep so much is that they need to let their bodies regenerate for the high-performance chase it is going to go on to eat later.
You as an athlete are the same. You need to sleep and take naps as much as you can so that your body can regenerate to perform at a high level. If you are not sleeping, you’re automatically put yourself at high risk of injury.
Tips for Sleeping Better
- Keep your room as dark as possible
- Remove all electronics from the bedroom
- Power down your phone an hour before bed
- Get into a routine of relaxing before going to sleep
Get a Medical Team
Different sports medicine professionals have different roles. Most people get stuck seeing one type of therapist. The truth of the matter is that an athletic trainer, chiropractor, physical therapist, massage therapist and acupuncturist all approach problems a bit different and that is a good thing.
You want to have them all on your team and understand their strengths and when it is best to even to see them. Having them on the team does not mean you see them all every week or even month. It means you have the full team ready and in your back pocket for when you do need them. If you need help doing this, Kho is a great resource.
Putting it All Together
You can use one tool, or you can use them all, but nothing is going to have an impact like using them all will. Start with the three you think are most important and make them a habit. If you decide to start going to bed at 10, make that habit before you move on to adding more.
The goal is to cover all 10 of these things, and you will see a huge difference in how your body feels and your ability to perform at a high-level. You have to remember that success takes time. It requires consistent efforts over a long period. Sleeping for 1 hour more than your competition for one night is nothing but after a few years that is a lot of time.