You just had you race, or your tournament, or your big game over the weekend. You have been training for it for months on end, making every day specific to your goal. Each exercise a different piece of what you needed to create success, every movement a component of the exact task you were going to ask your body to perform. Now what? Maybe you have weeks until the next big thing, maybe you have months, or maybe you haven’t decided what you will be training for next. Well it doesn’t matter. Do ANYTHING ELSE. Something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. Even if you are in a season with matches every week or every few days. A period of time after your event should be spent doing a different activity with different motor patterns and muscular coordination demands.
There are numerous benefits to taking a break after a competition. It allows mental clarity and time to reflect on how the competition went and prevent burnout, it allows the body to heal from the stress put on it throughout the training and actual event, it allows the body time to learn and re-organize without being asked to build immediately again. Taking a break does not have to mean sitting on the couch with a bag of Oreos and a new Netflix series (while that can absolutely be part of it). But go out and choose a new activity, give your body a new stimulus, train the muscles and movements that were not the primary focus in your event. If you ran a marathon, go swimming, biking, play basketball, anything other than repetitive running for hours. If you did a Spartan Race, go to yoga or play soccer. It doesn’t matter what it is, just make it different. At a certain age we become so focused on individual tasks, and we stop being “multi-sport athletes”. Then we wonder why our body starts to hurt when it has never hurt before doing the same things. Well thats because if you do the same damn thing everyday for years, your body starts to get tired of it and you lose the abilities to move outside of that specific activity.
Children often play 3-4 different sports a year, and when they aren’t playing a sport, they are outside playing tag or running or biking with their friends. They utilize all ranges of motion and all muscle patterns with the diversity of their lifestyle. Kids play 10x harder than adults on any given day, then wake up and do it again, without knee pain or back pain. Often kids are weaker, have less stability, and less experience with motion than adults, so why is it that if a kid has pain it is a concern, but if an adult has pain it is perceived as “normal” or “old age”. It is not normal to have pain.
By doing 1000 different activities, you ask and train your body to be efficient in 1000 different ways, preventing your body into sinking into the pit of only one motion. This keeps both your body and your brain happier. So as you sit back and figure out what and when your next competition is, make sure to spend time doing something completely different first.