The Everyday Athlete’s Handbook: 4 steps to prevent pain and injury while staying strong, healthy, and engaged in the activities you love every day and in every stage of life.
At Functionize Health & Physical Therapy, we believe that if you have a body, you are an athlete. Maybe you’re competitive in a sport or dedicated to that fitness class a few times a week. Maybe you would rather bike to work or hike on the weekends than hit the gym, or maybe your “bent-over rows” look a lot more like pulling weeds, and your “deadlifts” look like picking up a toddler. Whoever you are, and whatever you love, you get one body for one life, and it is our passion to help you enjoy it to the fullest!
If you have been dealing with an injury or are avoiding activities for fear of injury, you are in the right place. You were made to move, and our team believes that with the right information and a little help, you can become a force of movement.
Let’s eliminate “no,” and “can’t.” Our mission is to get you back to the activity, the sport, the gym, and/or the life you love as soon as possible.
Every patient who comes to see us is treated as a special, unique person-- because that’s exactly who they are. And, although we insist on an individualized approach, the success stories of our clients all rely on managing the same four steps we’ll share with you below. These steps help them to prevent pain and injury, maintain health and wellness, and remain active in the things they love.
So, what are the steps?
4. Stress Management
It really is that simple. But, there is so much packed into those simple steps, so keep reading as we unravel it all in an actionable way. In this blog, we'll cover Step 1: Sleep.
By now, most of us know that sleep is an essential component for good health and energy, yet many of us still ignore it. We go to sleep too late, we wake up early, and then try to get ourselves through the day with endless cups of coffee.
Countless studies have shown that adults need 7-9 hours of quality sleep a night (with children and teens needing even more), and getting less than 6 hours on a regular basis can lead to significant physical and mental health issues such as depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and stroke.
Because even though we tend to think of sleep as a time when our body and brain shuts down, it is actually an active time during which many critical processes take place, including tissue and blood vessel healing, memory and learning consolidation, and hormonal changes that help reduce pain/stress responses.
While it is important to pay back your sleep “debt” when you don’t get a good night’s sleep, all sleep isn’t created equal, and there is no substitute for doing it right every night. Think about the following in order to make sure you give your body every opportunity to sleep well:
Create a Night-time Routine. As a kid you probably had a set bedtime and some sort of routine around it. Brushing your teeth, washing your face, a short period of time for reading a book, and then lights out. This kind of routine helps train the body (much like Pavlov’s dogs) that it is time to switch gears and get ready to sleep. Whatever the routine, it needs to work for you. Don’t shower before bed if you know that reinvigorates you. Don’t crack open a book if you know you’ll get sucked in for hours. Find a plan that will support the goal of good sleep.
No Screen Time Within an Hour of Bed. Seriously. Put down your phone, stop scrolling through Instagram, and don’t let yourself go down the rabbit-hole of the internet right before bed. If you can turn off TV too, even better! But, if you can’t, choose wisely-- no thrillers or emotionally draining shows, as these will prevent you from transitioning toward sleep.
Keep Your Room as Dark as Possible. If you can get blackout shades I recommend that. Remember: your brain isn’t shut down; you may not be aware of your surroundings while you are asleep, but your brain will register light and changes in light, which can affect how deeply and steadily you sleep.
Make Sure it is Cold Enough. Studies show that we sleep best at temperatures between 65-70 degrees. Since our ideal sleep temperature is lower than our ideal waking temperature, you may need to play with your thermostat, your covers, or your sleepwear to figure out what works best for you at night.
Keep Your “Bed Time” and “Wake-up Time” Consistent. Humans are creatures of habit, and our internal sleep clock is no exception. Ideally, even on weekends you shouldn’t deviate from your schedule by more than an hour, but if you do, shoot for over-sleeping rather than under-sleeping.
Thanks for reading!