Clients often believe the key to fitness is repetition—relying on the same exercises, or types of exercise, to stay in shape and challenge their bodies. However, could the key to unlocking improvement and increasing your fitness level be the very opposite of what most of us do?
Cross-training is a concept in exercise therapy that breaks this repetitive behavior by exercising other parts of the body to supplement those engaged by your favorite activity. For example, cross-training for a runner might involve cycling, swimming, or strength training.
Whether you are a weekend warrior who is up for the next Spartan race, an avid runner, a college baseball player, or just the average Joe out at the gym, many of us forget the importance of training the body as a whole. For example, let’s break down a task as simple as walking. It causes a chain reaction from the foot to the knee, hip, and then spine. If at any given point in this movement there is a weakness or trauma, the proper mechanics of the chain reaction are susceptible to a breakdown.
Simple activities like adding more weight, or increasing the resistance and speed of the activity reveal that we are all much closer to injury than we might think. The same rules apply for those activities we enjoy. Our movement patterns cause a chain reaction in the body, which is why cross-training can help avoid future problems.
Cross-training does not imply hitting the gym and pumping out 20 reps of biceps curls, knee extensions, and crunches—quite the opposite actually. When training or preparing our bodies for a particular activity, the training will mimic aspects of the activity itself. For instance, let’s examine our running patients. We often see runners come in with chronic or reoccurring knee injuries. Many of these athletes are strong overall, but lack strength and control at some specific point in the chain.
So where do you start? If you are currently experience a problem or injury, talk to one of our knowledgeable physical therapists on staff and request an appointment to see if exercise therapy is needed. If you are an athlete looking to enhance performance, or someone looking to improve their form, come in and work with our FAST Trainers. They can build a program specifically for you, tailored to any athletic ability, and help make you stronger and more successful in the activities you love.