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Scott T. Sheriff, DC

Improve Your Performance With Cross-Training

By Scott T Sheriff, DC, Nov 11 2018 03:45PM

With winter fast approaching, outdoor exercise is becoming less fun and a bit more challenging. That means it'sa great time to switch up your main form of exercise and try something different - something with different movements, something that uses different muscle groups. This is called cross-training and it has many wonderful benefits - including improved performance in your main sport or exercise.

Cross-training simply means to combine different types of exercise - running, swimming, cycling, CrossFit, kick-boxing or any other kind of whole-body exercise (squats, push-ups, lunges, etc). By varying your type of exercise, you build strength and flexibility in muscles not used in your main sport. Muscle imbalance and overuse are the most common causes of injury. Cross-training helps to prevent this from happening. For those of you dealing with past injuries, cross-training is essential for preventing them from reoccuring. I teach my patients home exercises for this very reason.

I used to think that I was in great shape because I could run 20 miles with no problems. Then a friend took me to her yoga class and I got a rude awakening when my hamstrings started shaking and cramping after three minutes. Runners tend to have overdeveloped quads and weak hamstrings - so any cross-training program for a runner should definitely include hamsting exercises like squats, leg curls, and side-steps.

Anytime you train hard, your body develops microtrauma - small tears in the muscle fibers, tendons and ligaments. You also deplete the stores of energy in the muscle fibers that were used the most. Your body needs time to rebuild the damaged tissue and refill the muscles with glucose (energy). This is a natural part of the training process. By cross-training and using different muscle groups, the healing muscles are allowed to rest, but you are able to maintain your high level of fitness. Furthermore, by increasing your heart rate there is increased blood flow and delivery of nutrients to the damaged muscle tissue - which speeds the recovery process. This is called active recovery and it's one of the major benefits of cross-training.

In summary, cross-training is an excellent way to improve your overall fitness, reduce your risk of injury and improve your recovery time after strenuous exercise.

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