Great Health Guide - - FITNESS -

Whether you are try­ing to im­prove your work­out at the gym or train­ing for a half marathon or triathlon, then you have a sur­pris­ing amount in com­mon with an elite ath­lete. Firstly, we all want to see im­prove­ment. Se­condly, we all face in­jury set­backs oc­ca­sion­ally.

1. Wel­come ob­sta­cles & chal­lenges All health and fit­ness regimes will en­counter road­blocks. An in­jury or an ill­ness may stop you for a time. The test is hav­ing the for­ti­tude to ease back into your regime when you start feel­ing bet­ter. Elite ath­letes know that ev­ery time they suc­cess­fully over­come an ob­sta­cle, their mind­set im­proves.

2. Em­brace ef­fort Even elite ath­letes can suc­cumb to think­ing ‘there is no point to all

this’ or ‘it won’t make a dif­fer­ence’ or ‘this is too hard’. They over­come these thoughts in sev­eral ways, but a key is to main­tain ef­fort by chip­ping away. If your task seems over­whelm­ing, break it down into smaller, more achiev­able lots. Re­mind your­self of how good you will feel later, if you make an ef­fort now.

3. Not try­ing to ‘ride out’ in­juries I have seen many cases where peo­ple suc­cumb to in­jury from try­ing to push through pain – yet elite ath­letes know that pain is their sig­nal to stop. Sure, we all know heroic sto­ries from pro­fes­sional sports­peo­ple who per­se­vere with in­jury, but re­mem­ber that their liveli­hood and rep­u­ta­tion is at stake and these heroic acts of­ten come at great cost. For the rest of us, push­ing through pain risks time off work and time away from the sport or ex­er­cise that you en­joy.

4. Re­hab ex­er­cises are also pre­ven­ta­tive Ath­letes take re­hab very se­ri­ously, but the rest of us tend to skimp on re­hab ex­er­cises once the pain goes away. The se­cret that ath­letes know is that re­hab ex­er­cises are also pre­ven­ta­tive ex­er­cises. Even if your body is feel­ing bet­ter you may con­tinue to en­joy sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fit from those re­hab ex­er­cises.

5. Re­cov­ery is es­sen­tial It’s com­mon to overdo it when you love a new ex­er­cise rou­tine or sport. Elite ath­letes place a high pri­or­ity on re­cov­ery. Any­one can ben­e­fit from adopt­ing a short re­cov­ery rou­tine – prefer­ably one which doesn’t in­volve al­co­holic drinks af­ter each ex­er­cise ses­sion! You may be sur­prised by how much elite ath­letes put into re­cov­ery, from warm-down ex­er­cises and stretches, to ice baths, com­pres­sion gar­ments and finely honed ac­tiv­ity timeta­bles. You may not need the ice baths favoured by elite ath­letes, but any­one can ben­e­fit from us­ing the cor­rect warm-down re­cov­ery rou­tine af­ter train­ing and play­ing.

6. Change a treat­ment if it’s not work­ing Elite ath­letes ex­pect re­sults quickly and so should we, yet too many peo­ple con­tinue get­ting the same physio treat­ment even when there is no change. You should see a change in three ses­sions or less. That’s how quickly ath­letes ex­pect a re­sponse and it is a good rule of thumb for any­one. Seek a sec­ond opin­ion if there is no pos­i­tive change af­ter three ses­sions. If you have a chronic con­di­tion which may take longer, you should at least ex­pect to see a de­tailed plan, along with in­cre­men­tal im­prove­ments in this time.

7. Sleep Elite ath­letes are se­ri­ous about sleep be­cause it’s so im­por­tant both for men­tal and phys­i­cal re­cov­ery. Pri­ori­tis­ing sleep may re­quire cut­ting down on al­co­hol, or putting down the elec­tronic de­vices an hour be­fore bed. But have no doubt, en­sur­ing reg­u­lar sleep may be enough to give your per­for­mance a lift.

8. Us­ing pos­i­tive af­fir­ma­tions Many elite ath­letes have had great suc­cess us­ing pos­i­tive af­fir­ma­tions – these are say­ings that prop you up and pep you up. For ex­am­ple,

an ath­lete may say: ‘Each and ev­ery day I am a bet­ter ath­lete’. Telling your­self a pos­i­tive af­fir­ma­tion in the early morn­ing and again late in the even­ing, can be re­mark­ably ef­fec­tive. It could be some­thing as sim­ple as ‘I am bet­ter to­day than I was yes­ter­day’.

9. Welcoming crit­i­cism In your jour­ney to­wards a health­ier and fit­ter life­style, you may come in for crit­i­cism – hope­fully this is con­struc­tive and from some­one you re­spect, such as a physio, per­sonal trainer or ex­er­cise part­ner. A healthy ‘elite ath­lete’ mind­set en­ables you to learn from it, take it on board and im­prove – you won’t see it as a per­sonal at­tack and your ego won’t be bruised.

10.Con­sider med­i­ta­tion Peo­ple may be sur­prised how many elite ath­letes use med­i­ta­tion to achieve big­ger and bet­ter things. The only re­quire­ment is an open mind. But as ev­ery­body is dif­fer­ent, some med­i­ta­tions will be more ef­fec­tive than oth­ers.


• Any­one, at any level can em­u­late elite ath­letes’ ap­proach to fit­ness.

• Man­ag­ing in­juries and sleep­ing well is crit­i­cal.

• Mind­set is at least as im­por­tant as your phys­i­cal abil­i­ties.

Kusal goonewar­dena an ex­pe­ri­enced phys­io­ther­a­pist who con­sults via his clinic, Elite akademy. Kusal has au­thored books

in­clud­ing: low Back pain – 30 Days to pain free; 3 minute Work­outs; and co-au­thored Nat­u­ral heal­ing: Quiet and Calm. When not con­sult­ing, Kusal is a lec­turer, au­thor, con­sul­tant and men­tor to thou­sands of phys­io­ther­apy stu­dents around the world.

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