Here is a fact. We need to repair the body every time we play a sport, and most of us don’t.
Most of us do something to prepare our bodies before we engage in physical activity. We might do stretches, we might run a bit to warm our bodies, we might do some agility drills, or we might run through some of the movements we expect to use in our sport or activity—like stretching, bending, lifting, twisting or jumping.
This is all good. We do it to make sure our body is ready for activity. We want to avoid muscle strains, joint damage and ligament sprains. We also want to make sure our body is ready to perform at its peak, to respond to what our brain commands it to do in the sport.
Take the time to repair the body.
We’re being good to our bodies and ourselves. But that is only half the job. Most people don’t take the time to repair the body after their physical exertion is over. You know the story. We return from walking the golf course or riding 30 hard miles on a bicycle, we grab some water, and we want to chill out: cool down, get a shower, maybe eat something, and flop down in front of the TV. We rest and recover, but we don’t repair.
That’s a mistake. I’m not saying you shouldn’t chill out, rehydrate and rest. Of course you should. Exercise stresses the body and wears it down, and we need to allow it to recuperate. That is critical. But rest, nutrition and rehydration are not enough immediately after athletic activity. You also need to do some exercises to counteract the stress to joints, rejuvenate the muscles, and particularly, to realign the spine and counteract the compression, distortion and misalignment that are products of exercise.
The human body wasn’t designed to play sports.
The fact is that the human body is not designed to play football, golf, tennis or most other sports. We also are the only animals on earth that walk completely upright, and gravity alone causes our spine to compress over time. That is one reason we get shorter as we get older. Add to that the normal compression the twisting involved in rotational sports or the impact involved with contact sports, and you have a recipe for getting the spine and other joints of the core out of alignment.
If you really want to play your sport for a long time—or just maintain a healthy body well into old age—what you do when you finish hitting that second basket of balls or riding those 30 miles or playing a hard match of tennis is very important. I instruct all my athlete clients in a routine of myofascial stretching and ELDOA that is specifically designed for the rigors of their sport. The stretching engages the myofascial chains to keep the fascia and the muscles supple and flexible, and ELDOA opens the joint space, particularly in the spine and pelvis, and realigns the spine.
You should do these exercises as soon as possible after finishing your athletic activity, within about one hour at the most. If you can’t get home from the golf course or ball field within an hour, then take a hot shower when you get home and do them. The myofascial stretching and ELDOA must be done when the body is warm to achieve the best results and avoid injury or strain.
Most athletes don’t take the time to repair the body.
Most athletes don’t do this, and I really think this is where they miss the boat. I remember reading that Derek Jeter would prepare for four hours before a baseball game during the later years of his career. You see that pretty consistently among athletes; they prepare systematically and religiously. When I was traveling on the PGA Tour, I would see all of the golfers in the gym pre-round, all doing their activation, their stretching, their training—whatever their trainer or therapist had them doing. But it was after their round of golf, when I was in the gym with my golfer, that I thought, “Man, why aren’t they in the gym now? Now is the time.” They had just gotten done playing a round of golf, four to five hours. They had just walked six to eight miles depending on the length of the golf course. This was the time to take care of their bodies, to do the stretching and the work they needed to do so that they could come back the next day and do it all over again.
Top athletes usually don’t have the luxury of taking a day or two of complete rest after exertion. They need to practice and work just about every day to stay on top of their game. So the post-game recovery through myofascial stretching and ELDOA is especially important for them. But we all need to do it.
See the specific programs to repair the body on H3TV
That is why I have included specific programs for recovery with H3 on Demand, on H3TV. There are programs for golf (which can be used for other rotational sports, like baseball and tennis), cycling and running. All are designed to repair the body and to counteract the specific stresses to the body that those activities produce. I expect to upload more for other sports in the near future.
I would be very happy if I could get everyone to give 20 minutes of their day to repair their bodies after they have enjoyed a round of golf, an afternoon of tennis or a long ride. Don’t think of it as an add-on. Think of it as part of your game or your ride, just like your preparation.