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Why Cross Training is Important to Prevent Injury

By Xavier Thompson, ATC

Cross training. What is it and why is it important? If you follow the headlines of any sports’ stars in the off season, you’ll likely see multiple stories about how an athlete is doing something besides their professional sport to prepare for the next season. You can find videos on the internet of star basketball players boxing or doing core work. Articles are written about football players taking up ballet or yoga. Blogs are written about professional runners and their swimming, cycling or weight room routine. The truth is that by and large, professional athletes cross train to some degree year round. Athletes of all levels ranging from small children to the elderly should follow suit.

What is cross training? Google defines cross training as “the action or practice of engaging in two or more sports or types of exercise in order to improve fitness or performance in one’s main sport.”

Some of the most common reasons from those who don’t cross train are, “I don’t have time” or “it isn’t fun” or “I only want to [insert primary sport/activity here].” Let’s break through these excuses one at a time. There are 24 hours in a day and 168 hours in a week. In that time, you can find time to cross train in some way, shape or form. It could be just 15-20 minutes three times a week of another fitness activity outside of your primary sport of choice in your own home. The key is to stimulate the body and muscles in a different way than normal. This helps identify and improve any hidden deficits or weaknesses that may hinder performance or lead to injury down the line. A runner with weak lateral hips or a yoga aficionado with poor shoulder stability will save themselves a lot of trouble if they work on their weaknesses before they get injured.

Now you may be saying that cross training is not fun. But if you enjoy your sport or activity, the chances are pretty good that through cross training you can find another one that you enjoy. The possibilities for cross training are limitless as long as you are creative.

Our last excuse was that “I only want to [insert primary sport/activity here].” If you love your primary activity to that degree, then you should want to avoid injury. Cross training gives you the best opportunity to do that. If people whose entire livelihood is based upon performing one sport cross train, then we should probably follow their example. This is true even for elite young athletes who want to play soccer or swim or run year round. They are increasing their injury risk and decreasing their chances of long term success with no other type of exercise included in their training plans.

In short, if you truly want to maximize your performance and decrease your injury risk give cross training a try. One of the best ways to figure out where to start with your cross training is to assess your strength and flexibility. CLICK HERE for three assessments you can try anywhere that will test your core strength. Your core is the building block for stability throughout the body.

For more information on cross training or to speak with someone about setting you up with a personalized cross training routine, CALL 703-450-4300 TODAY! 

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