Train for a Lifetime of Doing What You Love with the Holistic Sports Medicine Model

Somewhere along the way all athletes will reach uncharted territory. This may be a distance you have never gone, a point where maybe you should turn back, an altitude that has become uncomfortable, an ache or pain that was never there before, or maybe one that has not gone away. I find this is one of the highest levels of athletic maturity that calls upon both physical and mental/emotional awareness.

In my experiences with athletes on every level this comes into play. As we all know, it takes a proper training and preparation in addition to that grit and drive to compete that takes us to our highest self when we are out on the course. Could being unwavering in our goals or un-accepting in today’s physical limitations have the potential to interfere with the joy of tomorrow?  This is why I have developed a passion for the holistic versus traditional sports medicine model as an opportunity to push our levels of human performance and to be kind to ourselves in a way that will minimize problems down the road. I truly believe it is possible to have both.

Holistic sports medicine is a comprehensive approach to the health and wellness of the athlete. It includes not only the management of injuries but prevention of injury, integrative physical training strategies, optimizing human performance, and seeking to assist in recovery from training and competition. Although there is always an assumed risk to sports and fitness participation, the holistic sports medicine model aims to prolong the athlete’s career, minimize downtime, and addressing the whole person. 0464897001690564257.jpg

I believe a good relationship with practitioners like the Nutritionist, Sport Psychologist, Physical Therapist, Massage Therapist, Sports Chiropractor, and Strength and Conditioning professional is essential to this holistic approach of prevention and performance. In addition to having this support system, I also suggest:

1. Inventory your weaknesses

It is usually our weaknesses that are holding us back from that next level. So why is it that we like to focus most of our attention on the things that we enjoy? Gray Cook, DPT, PhD, co-founder of Functional Movement Systems is known for saying, “First move well, and then move often.”  I can emphasize enough, to push a body that is unbalanced or not moving well is begging for an injury. Take the time to get an assessment from a movement professional and correct your weaknesses. It is so much more fun and rewarding that way!

2. Maintain Periodization and Cross Training

Periodization is the practice of varying your training program at regular time intervals for optimal gains in physical performance.  Cross training is a routine that involved different kinds of exercise in order to use different muscles, energy system, and skills.  As a general rule you can update a training program every 12 weeks (or once a season).  If you are working on specific goals like training for a race it helps to have the support of a group or coach to keep you on track. For many of us just enjoying fitness for fun, the social aspects, or health benefits periodization and cross training is still important to maintain the challenge, enjoyment, and preventing injuries.

3. Don’t forget Recovery and Restoration

The terms recovery and restoration I believe are very similar and often used interchangeably but in my mind do have some subtle differences. Recovery is more of a passive process. It is the rest that we all need for healing to occur, whether that is a good night’s sleep or a complete break from a particular activity. Restoration can be a more active process such as foam rolling, yin yoga, meditation, hot tubs, massage, adjustments, maybe even a vacation. Either way we need both for our body to give us its best.

As one adopts a more holistic approach to sports and fitness your body awareness begins to grow.  From this, the question of “should I” becomes second nature and is no longer a challenge to our ego but an acceptance of self and the abundance of possibility when we run and when we ride. In the end, a mature athlete is a healthy athlete and a healthy athlete hopefully has years of adventure ahead of them.

Since 2006 Dr. Jennifer McCleary has dedicated her life to helping the community to do more of what they love. She is a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician®, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist®, as well as licensed to perform acupuncture and meridian therapy. She works with individuals of almost any age and activity level as long as there is a willingness to be well.

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