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We live in a very reactive society, where we seek help only after we are sick or injured. In sport, it is markedly more effective to address issues BEFORE injury occurs. You can do this with a complete muscle maintenance program.
What is muscle maintenance?
Muscle maintenance is warming up and cooling down, or the soft-tissue phases before and after a training session. While it is known by many names--pillar prep, pre-gen, pre-hab, warm-up, re-gen, re-hab, cool-down--it all refers to the act of maintaining the soft, and connective tissues to promote an elastic, healthy tissue quality.
Phases of Muscle Maintenance
A complete muscle maintenance program must include a diagnostic phase, such as keeping track of the amount of miles on the treads of your shoes, or how many foot-strikes and cuts you made during a training session. We call this your personal F.I.T (frequency, intensity and time) and it will help you modify your training and prioritize the soft tissue phase of your muscle maintenance program to reduce your potential for an “overuse” injury.
Monitoring your F.I.T. will help you find a balance among your frequency, intensity and time. If your training frequency is up, you have to scale back the intensity and duration. If your intensity is up, you have to scale back the frequency and duration and so forth.
The active rest phase of the program is the soft tissue phase which can accelerate muscular regeneration and bring you closer to 100% prior to your next training session or competition.
How Muscle Maintenance Applies to Athletes
Your muscle maintenance program is not intended to treat severe injury, but to maintain an excellent quality of muscle tissue for optimal performance all the time.
Recently, while on the topic of proper “warm-up” at the Wood Gym in Knoxeville TN., the owner and esteemed strength coach Charlie Petrone asked me if I warmed up before a bar fight. This idea at first eluded me and then I scrutinized it and realized that if I had an adequate and consistent daily muscle maintenance program, then my tissues would be healthy, elastic and ready, or “primed,” when I needed to call on them at a moment's notice. Mike Mckenry, and J.P. Arencivia spoke to me about squatting in the catcher’s position for a long period of time and then immediately having to call on their fast twitch muscle fibers to literally explode up from that stance and throw the ball to pick off a runner. Tony Campana said the same about standing in the outfield until having to immediately react and sprint to get a ball driven to the outfield. There is no warm-up prior to the throw or the run. Because athletes have to call upon their bodies at a moment's notice to go from 0-60 mph instantly, the message of muscle maintenance becomes all the more important.
Although the idea of injury prevention is a new science, the idea of warming-up, stretching and cooling-down has existed for a very long time. We are just simply getting smarter at it.
Click here for 8 warm-up movements to add to your muscle maintenance program.
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