Prep for spring sports

Prep for spring sports

Prep for spring sports

While the worst of winter is likely yet to come, the sun will be out soon, which means Mt. Rainier and the Pacific Northwest trails will be calling your name, outdoor tennis courts will be back on serve, and the smell of fresh-cut grass and crisp morning dew will draw golfers back onto the course to make 2019 the year they finally beat their handicap.

How will you get your body ready for all this activity? Take these quick tips to shake off the cobwebs and de-winterize for your activity.

If you’re a golfer, chances are you’ve been sitting around much more in the past three months than you did last June and July, and is it too much to say that you might even be another year older this summer?  Here are some flexibility quick tips:

Golfers should start working on their flexibility in February to be ready for April. If you want to get any significant benefits from stretching, you need a daily effort over the course of many weeks and months.

Work on your hips and ribs. That’s right, did you know your ribs get stiff? In fact, stiff ribs can cause low back pain by causing the lower back to twist and strain during a golf swing. Start by picking up a foam roller and have a professional show you some tricks of the trade.

Strengthen your core. Thanksgiving was long ago, but putting on extra weight like many people do over the holiday period can stretch out your core muscles and make your back muscles overwork, setting you up for a potential injury on Hole 5.

When my NW Sports Rehab colleagues and I took care of the athletes competing in the Washington State Open tournament last summer, one of the top reasons for injury was undertraining; people asked their body to do too much too quick and too hard, rather than put in the training they needed to prepare for a long week of tennis matches.

Tennis players need to work on their foot strength and mobility, core and cardiovascular strength and endurance, as well as slowly increase their elbow tendon demands. Start by trying a Single Leg Romanian Dead Lift (SL RDL) without shoes and socks, and without any balance aids.

As for tennis, I’ve adapted a quote from my financial advisor, who told me “cash is king.” In tennis, your footwork is king; just ask Fed, Djok and Rafa (and is it too early to mention Tsitsipas?). You need to treat your feet like the kings they are and give them everything they need and more to be successful. Start by walking around the house without shoes or socks, and practice ‘grabbing’ the ground with your feet.

Core and cardiovascular strength go hand-in-hand with footwork. If you don’t use your core with your feet to move on the court, you will likely end up with a back and/or knee injury, if your foot doesn’t get injured first.

What about tennis elbow? Tendons are sneaky. They let you think everything is just fine, only to find out a couple days later it hurts to hold the racket. Keep an eye on how many times you hit the ball as the sun starts to come out and try to avoid increases larger than 10 percent in volume in a week’s time.

Hitting the trails is one of the many luxuries we get living in the Pacific Northwest, and preventable injuries aren’t a good excuse for missing out on fun and sun with your friends. Hiking up Rattlesnake, or Little Si may not be a challenge for some, but an unexpected case of plantar fasciitis, knee pain, or back pain can ruin an otherwise enjoyable and challenging experience; not to mention having to deal with the injury on Monday.

Good shoes go a long way. Feet take a beating, and that’s long before putting them into an old pair of worn out boots and going for an 8- or 10-mile journey up a mountain. If you absolutely can’t manage to break away from your favorite pair of hiking shoes, at least get a new pair of basic orthotics that can help take the edge off.

Cross-training is a two-edged sword. Ordinarily, I would say that diversifying your training will help keep you out of trouble, but in this case overtraining can cause an injury if you haven’t kept up your training over the winter, so follow the 10 percent rule here (weekly load increases hover around 10 percent). For example, if you take 75,000 steps per week on average, and 100,000 steps the following week, you can adjust your training to include more upper body and core training.