In my twenties, I felt bulletproof as an athlete.
On a regular basis, I could push my body to its limit in the gym. And especially for all of my “weekend warrior” activities.
Although there was an occasional tweak in my body from going too far into “beast-mode,” I bounced back quick.
I had no idea that those “insignificant” tweaks were actually a result of deficits in mobility and strength. And that by “going hard” I was magnifying the imbalances in that weak foundation.
Like most athletes, I was unaware of the widening gaps. So I did little to help myself, because I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
Then in my thirties, my mindset was still that of a 25-year-old. I was still pushing as hard, but I started to notice that I was the missing the spring in my step that I had in my twenties.
There were many days that I woke up stiff. The little tweaks turned into big tweaks. They became more frequent and took longer to come back from.
The accumulation of stress from all the weakness and compensations in my body caught up to me. I was beginning to feel old, and it was time to address it.
But I still refused to accept that I was aging. So I didn’t dedicate enough time and effort to address the issues that were accumulating in my body. Because it was time and effort that I thought I couldn’t give up to my routine of “going hard” in the gym.
That was short-sighted and, frankly, poor justification for not doing what I knew was important.
So my self-care investment was mediocre at best. And I kept trying to build strength and speed on top of a shitty foundation.
Now, I’m in the second half of my forties. And that neglect follows me around on a daily basis. And, as I’ve become ever more aware of my mortality, I realized that turning a blind eye to aging comes back to bite.
I’ve found in life that oftentimes it takes a breakdown to have a breakthrough.
But it doesn’t have to be in your case. That doesn’t have to be your story.
If you want to avoid this, or if you can relate to it, you too can take the steps I’ve used to restore my athleticism.
1. Stop pretending. that you’re Superman.
Accept that your human body is vulnerable to injury. Especially if you don’t manage it as you should. Because breakdown from aging and an accumulation of stress are inevitable as an athlete.
2. Educate yourself.
Knowledge is power when you take to the time to learn that injury and breakdown is preventable. Then you have control over your destiny as an athlete.
3. Raise your awareness when you approach fatigue.
Fatigue happens to us all when we push the outer limits. If you’re not careful in your planning, it’s not a matter of if, it’s when you breakdown.
Know when you’re bordering that line and raise your focus on quality movement. That’s because fatigue will magnify your imbalances and imprint a compensation pattern. And that pattern will need to get cleaned up every time if you like to push that limit.
My best advice in this case is to be discerning of what’s happening in your body while under fatigue. And stop before the quality of your movement goes down.
4. Plan your recovery strategy.
This means that you must make it a priority to train around your recovery time. This is a non-negotiable in becoming an athlete for life.
It also means that you must plan what you will be doing to get the most benefit. What results do you want.
5. Execute on that plan.
Because a plan without follow through is a loss of opportunity for growth.
6. Establish daily rituals.
Take it upon yourself to establish daily rituals to manage your body better. This means focusing on exercises to correct imbalances and prevent injury. As well, massage, hydration, nutrition, and high quality sleep.
7. Reach out for professional support.
Ask around for a reputable physical therapist or exercise specialist. They will be able to screen and assess you to give you a better understanding of your body. Then you can get the direction to correct and manage it.
These are all steps that will promote your longevity.
The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll feel right again.
I’m here to help. In the coming weeks, I’ll be releasing a brand new program called Search & Rescue Mobility (SARM). It’s a self-care program for athletes.
And you can be one of the first to get it.
To be notified when SARM launches, sign up for email updates in the footer below.
Already on the list? Shoot me a quick email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time, stay athletic.