Britain’s success in the Olympics will undoubtedly inspire many people to join a gym, take up a sport or even just do a bit more exercise than they usually do. Whatever level you are at, there are ways of making your workout more efficient so you achieve optimum sports performance.
Warm up / Cool down
When you’re doing any exercise – whether it’s for a sports performance or just to keep fit – warming up and cooling down after your session is vital for your muscles. Warm up exercises will prevent muscle and joint injury, increase the blood flow which raises the flow of oxygen to your muscle cells at the same time as diverting blood from other parts of the body which in turn increases muscle efficiency and increases the supply of lubricating synovial fluids to your cartilage (your body’s shock absorbers). Once you’ve finished exercising, cool down exercises will help your heart rate slowly return to normal and also give your body a chance to flush out waste products from the muscles and into the circulatory system.
Simple warm up exercises should take at least 6 minutes and cool down stretches at least 5 minutes. If you belong to a gym, ask one of the personal trainers to show you what to do.
Everyone knows they need to keep hydrated, especially when exercising or playing sports. It regulates your body temperature, lubricates your joints and helps transport nutrients around the body. If you’re dehydrated, your body simply won’t perform as well.
A lot of people like to hydrate with sports drinks, which have become big business. Whilst many provide the electrolytes you’ll need to replace after around an hour’s intense activity, the majority have a very high sugar content as they contain glucose, sucrose, fructose, or high-fructose corn syrup. If you’re exercising for less than an hour, stick to water. If you need to replace energy and electrolytes during a long exercise session, try making your own sports drink with around 100 milliliters of orange juice concentrate in a litre of water and add a pinch of salt.
Intense exercise needs a healthy, balanced diet if it’s going to be effective – especially if you’re trying to lose or maintain weight. For optimum nutrition, you need to eat vegetables, whole grains, fruit, lean protein, low-fat dairy products and healthy fats. Importantly, you also need to cut out the refined sugars – they may give you a short-lived energy peak, but you’ll also experience energy crashes – eat complex carbohydrates instead to achieve steady, smooth and reliable energy.
Rest days are a vital part of your training as they help your muscles repair any damage, such as tiny tears, caused by exercising. They will also help your body lose weight as over-training can result in no weight loss or even a slight gain. Overtraining can also cause sleep loss and even mood problems which can lead to burn-out.
There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep! In terms of sports, getting your eight hours will help your body’s ability to rebuild muscle tissue. Even if you haven’t managed to sleep properly one night, a 20-30 minute nap after a workout will help boost your recovery.
Visit an osteopath
An osteopath will use muscle energy techniques to help stretch and strengthen your muscles, improve flexibility and reduce the risk of damage. Regular maintenance will help competitors recover quicker by maintaining full functionality and reduce muscle fatigue.
Hitchin Osteopathy offers effective sports massage and rehabilitation treatments for athletes who want to achieve optimum sports performance.