The secret to training for athletic performance

Before you should even think about progressive workouts to reach your sports goals, I want you to think about the importance of injury prevention: the most overlooked aspect of performance enhancement. I believe that the ‘no pain no gain’ movement is getting out of hand, resulting in many injuries and people not being able to live up to their dreams. Don’t get me wrong, I am a proponent of hard work, but I want to advocate to train hard but also smart. Not getting injured along the way is the number one task for a strength and conditioning trainer for a reason 1. From years of experience, the NCSF has learned that injuries = no training = no progress! Training smart goes a long way and will help you progress sustainably. Before you try to crush your 10k PR or preseason training schedule consider the following tips which will help you to stay fit along the way.

1: Do your research. Before you start a new training program, google for common injuries and – mistakes. Every mistake has been made by someone else before, so try to learn from other’s mistakes before you make them yourself. Learn from science-based websites and channels such as Athlean X, Jeff Nippard or train4performance. They will provide you with effective knowledge which will help you prevent injury while at the same time providing you with tips to reach your goals as fast as possible. As an example, decreasing your stride length by 10% will reduce the probability of chronic lower leg injury with 3 to 6 % 2. Knowing this from the start will help you a long way.

2: Take minor pains seriously. Even when you follow a profound training schedule, you may sporadically end up experiencing minor pains. Especially when you just start a new training program, you are prone to developing chronic injuries as was shown by researchers from Iowa State University 3. Instead of trying to be the tough guy, leave your ego at the door and take an extra rest day or decrease volume.

3: Check for postural distortions and muscle imbalances. In current society, we spend most of the day sitting. Sitting many hours a day often leads to poor posture and muscle imbalances. Muscle imbalances may also arise from executing the same movement over and over again (i.e. throwing a baseball as a pitcher). Research has shown over and over again that muscle imbalances increase the risk of injury. Muscle imbalances may lead to hamstring injuries 4, shoulder injuries 5, groin injuries 6 and much more. Fixing muscle imbalances will reduce the rate of injury and will make sure that external forces are properly absorbed by your joints and muscles. A scientific approach on how to identify and fix muscle imbalances will follow later!

Take these three tips into consideration when you train next time. It will help you stay fit and be able to consistently work towards your goals. If there is anything you would like to read about in the future (or have any tips to improve my website), let me know! New posts will be released every Wednesday at 18:00 (next is July 3rd)!

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