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Cross-train to achieve your sporting goals

Whatever your sport or training goals mixing it up with different activities can pay dividends in terms of overall fitness, strength, speed and endurance.

My life has always been full of running but age and injury have a habit of catching up with you sooner or later, so rather belatedly I’m discovering the benefits of cross training, dynamic stretching and sports massage to keep body (and soul) together. Movement is improvement as the saying goes.

By cross-training we generally mean aerobic activities which complement your training programme such as swimming, cycling, rowing, weight training and kettlebells. You’ll add a bit of variety and help rectify some muscle imbalances to make your whole body stronger, able to withstand greater stresses and strains.

It’s a great way to avoid boredom and reduces the risk of injury, too, in particular the tendency to succumb to the same kind of problem time and again. Focusing on other parts of your body has other benefits, too, helping you to tone up and stay trim.

Adding a stretch class, pilates or yoga to your weekly routine will improve your flexibility and core strength and your body will perform more efficiently as a result.

Think of it as active recovery, prompting your body to repair any muscle damage and replenish glycogen. You are stimulating blood flow to tired muscles, flushing out any lingering toxins and getting fitter. Add some rest and a good night’s sleep and you’ll feel 10 years younger and ready for the next new challenge.

Another way to keep in top top shape is to utilise sports massage. Deep tissue massage techniques reduce muscular tension, discomfort and soreness. It warms the muscles up to increase local blood circulation and aid the muscle repair and healing process.

It can play a vital role in maintaining your body’s equilibrium and increase range of motion and performance. It will also give you a better understanding of your own biomechanics and areas of weakness to work on.

All you need to start with is an exercise mat and a foam or massage roller. There is a lot of expert help out there, be they coaches, instructors or sports massage therapists, and once you have grasped it you can develop your own cross-training and active recovery plan. And where it will lead you is the exciting part!

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