After the summer we’ve had this year, running from shade to shade is about as much exercise as some of us have gotten. Whatever your sport of choice may be, it’s okay, even advisable, to take a break for a few weeks. But with September drawing ever closer, people all across the country are beginning to prepare themselves for the next season. If you have been spending your days at the beach and your evenings at barbecues, then it shouldn’t be a huge surprise if you have a little extra work to do. But if you start early, you can get back into shape, improve your game, and minimise your risk of injury.
Only you will be able to honestly and accurately estimate how active you have been during the off-season, but no matter how active or inactive you have been, it is important to pay extra attention to warm-ups and stretches while you get back into the swing of things. Dynamic stretches are a great way to do this. Unlike static stretches, which focus on getting the specific area being stretched to push itself further, dynamic stretches are intended to enable you to carry out more complex or challenging moves, and are particularly beneficial in preventing injury. To see a list of dynamic stretches and how to do them, take a look at this blog.
A jog or run can be a very effective way to warm up the muscles and get the blood flowing again, but start off slow. If you are jogging, begin with a walk and switch to a jog after about 5 minutes, switching back again after another 5 minutes. For a run, do the same, but alternate with jogging. Each time you switch, devote a little more time to the faster pace, and gradually increase this every day until you are jogging or running for the majority of your workout.
Exercising before the start of the season is very important, but in order to really prepare yourself, you’ll need to look at your diet as well. Ideally, you should begin your pre-season diet plan at least 4 weeks in advance of the start of training, but if you know you’ll be working out before then, starting earlier will make your preparation easier and more effective.
In order to make your workout as effective as possible, you’ll want to eat plenty of carbs, protein, and food that has a low glycemic index, so that the energy is released slowly throughout the day. Oats are therefore one of the best meals you can eat, as they meet all 3 criteria. Mixing oats with youghurt for breakfast will make this even more beneficial, as youghurt is not only high in both carbs and protein, but is also a good source of calcium. Finally, a good mix of fruit and vegetables will ensure that your body has all the necessary vitamins and nutrients to encourage tissue recovery. Bananas can be particularly beneficial, as the potassium content will help keep your blood pressure low and make up for nutrients lost during exercise. Plus, they can be very easily added to a bowl of oats, or taken out with you for a snack later.
Getting ready for the season to begin can be both exciting and daunting at the same time. While we look forward to the fun and social aspects of it, we can also feel tired, stiff, and just generally off our game. That it why it is so important to prepare in advance, eat right, and warm up properly. We all know that becoming great in sport takes time, effort, and dedication, and the sooner you start, the further ahead of the competition you’ll be.