What “off season”?

Ask a seasoned triathlete or a die hard runner or a dedicated athlete what the “off season” is and they will probably give you this blank stare.  What’s that?  I fall into this category.  Why would I want to let go of all that great fitness I built up all year just to “let it go”? 

For one, if you had an injury filled season, then it’s time to get yourself patched back up.  Enter your health care team.  Your doctor will deal with all the blood work and your internals, while your PT will help fix your battered body.  This is the time to figure out WHY your body is angry with you and work to make sure it doesn’t come back to interfere with the next season’s worth of racing.  Sure you can read all the internet advice you want on a certain nagging pain you’ve been nursing along all season to no avail.  It’s time to consult a professional, the experts, your physical therapist and your orthopedic doctor.  If the pain hasn’t resolved itself by now (after months of hoping, we’re all guilty of this one), more than likely it’s not going anywhere, anytime soon until you do something about it.  Find that provider that understands your needs as an athlete and your sport.  Do not settle.  Your experience and that relationship are invaluable to your sporting future. As I’m sure many coaches will agree, allowing your body to recover physically and mentally are important to your growth and performance for the next season.  I have a coach and he reminds me of these things.  Professionally, I, too, know how important this is.  In a lot of ways, knowing the things I know can be a blessing and curse at the same time.  I know, for me, the mental part of racing and training takes its toll on you by season’s end.  My last race took a lot out of me mentally.  It was that exhausting.  It took two weeks for me to reach full clarity on the event.  Even in the weeks that followed, motivation to go out and do big miles (especially when you don’t need to) was NADA.  Physically could I go out and pound out miles or sit and ride for hours?  Yeah.  Do I want to?  NO.  Using the off season to regroup mentally and physically get healthy is the time to address this without the pressures of a race or prepping for a race dangling in front of you.You can also address any weaknesses.  Literally and figuratively.  Work with the PT and figure out what needs to be addressed.  What are the muscle imbalances? What’s weak?  What is too “tight”?  Biomechanically, what isn’t moving correctly and what can be done to address it?  This all falls in line with why were you injured in the first place?  Trauma is one thing, typical overuse and poor mechanics are another.  During this time of patching yourself up, find other activities in order to maintain your fitness.  I always say it’s easier to stay in shape than it is to get into shape.  The worst thing you can do is let yourself go completely.  It just makes it that much harder to come back when the next year rolls in.Having the goals you set “in season” are just as important as those “off season” goals they just don’t revolve around time splits or performances necessarily.  I have my “off season” goals to help improve next year’s “in season” performance.  The longer you wait to address any issues, the less time you will have to spend focusing on them the right way and often times the longer it takes to fix it.  No better time than the present!  We’re here to help!

Dr. Jamie So

Jamie So, PT, DPT, is the owner and physical therapist of Manual Therapy Effects.

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