The Wisdom of Frank–Part IV
“Change It Up”
I met my friend Frank when I was 21 years old and working out at a local gym. Frank was sixty-eight years old and in great condition. He had been a professional boxer, army fitness instructor, and then a physical education teacher. Frank was an incredibly well read student of fitness and human performance. He was stronger, more agile, and fitter than most people in their twenties. Success leaves footprints, so I was eager to learn from a master.
Frank was big on developing one set of skills for a defined period of time and then switching to performance parameters. We would work hard on improving strength with squats, cleans, and pull ups for six weeks and then take a break. The next six weeks would focus on speed and endurance–lots of jump rope, sprinting, and medicine ball throws. I never got bored and I never got hurt.
The best injury preventative for athletes and fitness enthusiasts is a consistent change in activity. Look at your training / competition schedule and alter your activity every six to eight weeks. Better yet, take a week or two away from running, dance, yoga, lifting, baseball, or Zumba. If you are older or more injury prone, that rest period might need to be stretched out to three weeks.
The popularity of the club system has young athletes playing the same sport year round. In the clinic, we are treating young athletes with “old person” overuse injuries. Playing multiple sports is infinitely more beneficial. Taking layoffs from overused movement patterns and participating in a variety of athletic endeavors gives the body a chance to rebuild and recover. It is no coincidence that successful professional athletes are the product of multi-sport participation.
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS