All too often, I see clients in our physical therapy office who are suffering from overuse injuries as a result of playing too much of a single sport.

Case in point, John recently came into the office with elbow pain. Not surprisingly, John plays tennis four times per week but doesn’t do any alternative cardiovascular exercise, stretching or strengthening on his off days. As a result, John started experiencing a little elbow pain several months earlier, which he managed with over the counter anti-inflammatories but it has progressively worsened over time and now the pain is persistent. If John would have been routinely strengthening his rotator cuff and stretching his wrist extensors at the gym, he might not have developed this orthopedic injury or it may not have progressed until possibly later in life. In addition, if he incorporates non-impact sports such as cycling or swimming, he may experience better endurance on the tennis court and increase his overall strength.

The most recent demonstration of cross training was seen at the Olympics. Our Olympic “Heroes” all cross train as part of their fitness regimen. Whether it was Usain Bolt running, Michael Phelps swimming or Gabrielle Douglas’ gymnastics floor performance, each one combined their sport with other forms of exercise such as stretching, weight training, endurance work, core strengthening or interval exercises. This allows them to keep their bodies healthy and strong yet simultaneously continue to train in their sport without the challenges of overuse injuries and pain.

The bottom line is that in order to play your favorite sport for a long time, you must strengthen and stretch the muscles that are required to perform that sport. You also need to identify alternative exercise that doesn’t abuse the same joints. If you need suggestions on a cross training fitness regimen or would like to work with one of our healthcare professionals, call us today at 310-316-3577 .

By: Frank Croasdale, PT, DPT