Have you ever had an injury, taken a little time off to let it heal, and then reinjured it the first time back on the course/field?
How about this story. A good friend of mine tore his achilles 2 years ago playing basketball. He went through a grueling rehab process, went to therapy, and came back 100%. He has even run several half and full marathons since.
Just a couple of months ago, he went out to play basketball for the 1st time since he tore it. And guess what? He tore his achilles again. But not the same one. He tore his other one!
Bad luck, right. Maybe not so much. Maybe it was the fact that he’s a 39 y.o. sits at a desk most of the day, does some exercises at the gym and jogs. The problem is he never prepped himself for the rigors of the basketball court.
The leg that he originally tore got all kinds of lovin’ and attention through his rehab process, but the newly injured one most likely sat on the sidelines during his treatments over the past year and thus was not as prepared when he tried to relive the glory days on the court this most recent time.
“What does this have to do with MY Off-Season?”
The moral of the story here is that even though he took some time off, and was doing some stuff to “stay in shape” it didn’t prepare him for the stresses that his body was going to undergo when he got on the court.
The second phase of the off-season is RECUPERATE. By this, I basically mean “fix stuff.”
We all have our aches and pains, our limitations, and even some legit injuries. Now is the time to start working on them. After taking a few weeks of, you shouldn’t just jump right into a full blown training situation without addressing any lingering or recurrent issues, or they will continue to be just that; issues.
What Should I do?
If you have been reading any of the articles or listening to any of the podcasts on this site, you know how much I preach about getting in front of a qualified professional to have yourself assessed. This is the best way to figure out what your issues are and start working on them.
But if I know my audience here, I know a lot of you are like me and are too cheap and stubborn to go do that. So if you are not going to go see someone, here is my quick and dirty advice.
Know Your Limitations
You have to find out what your limitations are. The easiest is to figure out where you have PAIN. That is obviously a sign that something is wrong.
What causes the pain? When does it happen? ie. in your swing, when you tee the ball up, when your sitting on the couch, etc.?
The next thing to figure out is where are you LIMITED in your MOVEMENT? Do you know of significant areas of your body that have limited motion, for example
- possible tight hamstrings (can’t touch toes)
- inability to squat (butt below knees)
- poor hip rotation (especially on the front foot getting to a full follow-thru)
- poor upper back rotation (unable to rotate shoulders to > 45° in a fixed seated position)
Along the same lines, look at your swing on video or with your coach and figure out what is LIMITED or jacked up in your SWING?
Time to Fix it
Now you gotta dig in and iron out these issues. In many cases this requires taking on some sort of flexibility program or better yet a “CORRECTIVE EXERCISE” program.
Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t mean that you need a 45 minute stretching routine. All this means is that if you have some issues and limitations that are either causing you pain, or are likely to result in pain over time, you need to fix them now.
This could be as simple as 1 or 2 exercises depending on how messed up your body is or isn’t. For some, this may be a matter of adding in a few ankle stretches to make sure they can squat through full motion.
For many, this can mean a short program of 3-4 exercises to fix the movement in the upper back so they can hold posture and rotate in a swing.
Whatever it is, now is the time to fix it, in the recuperation phase of your off-season.
The Bottom Line
As I mentioned, you are way better off having a skilled professional help you out with this portion of the program, but it’s not absolutely imperative. Sometimes we know our bodies better than even the most skilled practitioners, so if you are comfortable in these areas, go for it.
And you don’t have to do this in isolation. You could start to get back in the gym to begin some strength training at this point, just make sure that the limitations you found are not being exploited in the lifts you chose to do right out of the gates.
Fix the weak links, then go crush it.
A great resource for you:
Since this is such a broad topic and there can be so many things going on with your body, it’s impossible to give you exercises or stretches in a blog post. But since one of my priorities for every post is that you have something actionable that you can take away with you or do tomorrow, I’ve got a resource for you.
I highly recommend checking out Kelly Starrett’s YouTube Channel (Mobility WOD) for some ideas on ways you can work on your own mobility and improving your body’s movements. He has tons of videos with demos and explanations.