Gym For Recreational Sport
"Why should I do gym when I play [insert sport such as cycling, running, triathlon, swimming, etc.] three to four times a week?"
This has been a hot topic of discussion at SOF HQ for quite some time now and one that I thought needs a bit of explanation. Truth be told, any activity is better than no activity and we encourage any form of consistent exercise over ‘nothing’. So why would it still be important to come to gym if you’re already doing something else?
Most people get involved in a recreational sport for a number of reasons; the friendships, the competition and the accountability to mention a few. The best insight I got into the environment surrounding recreational sport was during the Noosa triathlon which the SOF staff traditionally compete in each year. Doctors, carpenters, lawyers, parents and children alike all have that same look on their faces before their event starts which allows them to feel like an athlete for the next 3 hours.
In short, we understand that not much can rival this feeling!
So why is it important to come to gym if recreational sport is so great?
Simple - it will ensure you minimise your risk of injury whilst participating. The best reason of all, of course, is it will make you better at your sport. People enjoy doing well at things - recreational sport is no different. Submitting a personal best time, completing something you didn’t think you could do and enjoying the feeling of healthy competition all have one thing in common - they make you feel great!
It’s so important for people to know that coming to the gym to support recreational sport is exactly that - SUPPORTING your chosen sport. It is NOT there to take place of the sport. Learning how to move better and improving biomechanics does not need to be an incredibly complicated process but it does take time.
If you run, you should be working on your running/single leg mechanics.
If you swim, you should be working on your shoulder mechanics.
If you ride, you should be working on your stability and efficiency in force production.
You get the picture...
Movement as a whole is a complex thing, there are many moving parts to most exercises and there is some difficulty in perfecting something like a running technique. It’s very easy to over-complicate movement and over-analyze every step taken and for that reason it’s hard for the untrained eye to know where to start. We’ve spent years studying movement and understanding how the body works to be able to teach people how to get the most out of their movements in the easiest way possible. Recreational sport is no different, you need to improve areas of weakness to improve in your sport and hopefully enjoy it that little bit more.
You wouldn’t take out fire insurance when your house is on fire would you?
The same goes for movement. Proper strength and conditioning is like an insurance against injury or poor performance. Engaging a professional in the area is your first step to taking out your insurance against injury. You shouldn’t wait to start once you’ve hurt yourself and have to take some time off the sport.
Fact: most injuries occur in neurologically unmapped eccentric movements. In English, this means that most injuries occur in ranges of movement that our body can not identify with (because it is not familiar) during the ‘stretch’ phase of the muscle.
Stretching, receiving massages, ice baths etc. will only help so much. You have to learn to move your body efficiently to minimise your risk of injury. Strength and conditioning training does not always mean lifting heavy weight, it simply means getting your body ready for what it may need to handle during training and recreational competition.
There is a reason why elite athletes have strength and conditioning coaches on their team. I’ve been fortunate enough to be one of these coaches and I can say from experience that when working with recreational sports people the principles don’t change much.
Good movement is imperative to good, consistent performance.
We’ve got a number of people in our gym each day who compete recreationally and find the time to come to the gym once or twice a week to support their performance. We’d like to think they’re getting something out of it. Their results sure support that argument!
Help minimise your risk against injury and poor performance.
It will be the investment of a lifetime.