In-Season Maintenance

The fall marks an important point for most sports. This is the overlap between many summer and fall sports that are finishing up with the winter sports that are just beginning. We can already see a big difference between the two: the winter athletes are in peak physical condition and the fall athletes are trying to survive the full season. There’s such a focus on off season strength and speed development that athletes and trainers forget about the important aspects of in season maintenance. No matter how big or strong an athlete gets, it makes absolutely no impact if they’re injured. Thus, the focus of any in season maintenance program should be directed at injury prevention and maintenance. Here are 5 tips to help you or your athletes get the most out of their hard work in the off season.

Diet and Nutrition
One of the biggest differences between off season and in season for most athletes is an increased volume of competition. For professionals this means more games or practices but for student-athletes work and school can also be factored in. This increased calorie expenditure can have a very bad effect on weight management, especically loss of muscle mass. For this reason, full recovery between games or practices is essential for a competing athlete. As is always the case, protein is extremely important for recovery, however, complex carbohydrates become much more important in season for fuel as well as glycogen restoration. An athlete’s in season diet should have a much higher intake of carbohydrates than their off season diet. As far as liquids go, water becomes increasingly important since dehydration is one of the biggest performance killers. Although no one wants to hear it, alcohol should be eliminated for its numerous performance degrading symptoms.

Get Cold
I’m here to tell you that you can make the club from the tub. That’s right, get into a cold tub after practice or competition to help preserve your body through the long season. Using ice or an ice tub after intense bouts of athletics can help reduce inflammation and thus improve recovery for the next practice or game. This is especially important if you begin to notice small injuries: tightness, bruising, charlie horses. It’s important to keep in mind that inflammation and other byproducts of exercise will stay in your muscles until you clear them out. Getting on these early will help minimize the effect they may have on your season.

Get Loose
One reason the competition season is hard on the body is that it usually consists of very high volumes of repeated movement patterns. This can lead to all kinds of injuries and problems. Be proactive and spend significant amounts of time stretching and taking care of soft tissue. Getting massages or foam rolling can help limit knots and trigger points. Muscle pulls occur above or below a knot, so remove the knot to eliminate the risk of muscle pulls and tears. Don’t forget about joint mobility, maintaining range of motion throughout both your joints and muscles will keep an athlete healthy and performing at their best.

*Learn more about this in our “Art of Self-Massage” series

You Snooze, You Win?
How many times have you heard about getting adequate sleep? Hopefully enough that I shouldn’t have to get too specific about why it’s important. The competition season adds an incredible amount of stress to an athlete, napping and getting adequate sleep will help reduce stress and keep energy levels high throughout the season. Also, don’t forget how important sleep is for important things like growth hormone and testosterone; Keeping these hormones high will be very beneficial to your performance. Another aspect I have yet to mention is the mental game, that aspect many people discuss that’s so difficult to quantify. Make sure you or your athlete has blocks of time set aside to clear your head from sports or school. This can be through reading, meditation or listening to music. Don’t forget the important connection between the mind and body.

Keep Training
For some, the competition season is only 2 months, but for others it can be as long as 6-8 months. You’ve been training aggressively for the entire off season specifically to improve body for competition. If you stop training, you’ll minimize the positive effects you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Firstly, you want to make sure you continue your strength training to avoid any losses in strength, power, and muscle mass which may occur during the season. On top of that however, there’s nothing stopping you from continuing to improve throughout the season. Make sure to speak to a qualified trainer or strength coach in order to direct your in season training. There’s a very fine line between improving and over training, especially during the competition phase. Don’t flush away the pipes or six pack you worked so hard to achieve in your offseason.

These 5 tips are meant to focus on one specific thing: this is meant to be your peak, you should be doing anything and everything possible to make sure you’re at your absolute best. Taking care of these 5 things I’ve set out will go a very long way in making sure that you can do just that, maintain your peak. Don’t forget, it’s About Getting Better!


One Response to “In-Season Maintenance”

  1. This website was… how do I say it? Relevant!

    ! Finally I’ve found something that helped me. Kudos!

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