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Whether you’re a professional athlete, a bodybuilder or a weekend warrior, you know that you put your body and mind through many challenges as you work toward your goals. Because of this, it’s imperative that you take care of yourself with athletic recovery and proper nutrition.
It’s also important to know that even the most trained athlete can experience a problem with muscle imbalance. If you are using improper form while completing an exercise, get injured or are returning from time off, your muscle strength may at different levels throughout your body. Because of this, some muscles may overcompensate for the lack of ability in others, which leads to imbalance and other complications. Whether you’re a professional athlete or just enjoy working out on the weekend, this is a good thing to be aware of so you can correct any imbalances.
One way to achieve this is through muscle activation therapy (MAT). MAT is a training method that helps to restore balance to your body and improve its function. The foundation of MAT, according to ACE Fitness, is that tight muscles work to protect the body, and sometimes muscles can get stuck in a tight, shortened position. When this happens, the risk of injury increases and the muscle can’t perform properly.
“When muscles become too tight they have the same effect, which limits joint motion and could be a potential cause for injury,” Greg Roskopf, former collegiate strength coach and developer of MAT, told the source.
The Muscle Activation website said that MAT can be thought of as a system of checks and balances that helps people to “evaluate the integrity of the neuromuscular system whenever a force has been applied against it.”
Men’s Health Fitness has developed a list of ways you can benefit from MAT:
Better coordination: In order to protect the itself from injury, the brain tells the body to use the strongest muscles, even if they don’t create a clean movement. MAT works to strengthen imbalanced muscles so that you can move more quickly and efficiently, which will improve your coordination.
Gain strength: When the muscles have an imbalance, you are not working your body to its fullest potential, even with the most dedicated training routine. Integrating MAT into your workout plan will help correct the issues, and as a result, you will become stronger overall.
More flexible: Using a portable massager to loosen up sore muscles improves flexibility, and MAT can help even more. Weak muscles send the wrong brain signals, which limits your range of motion. With MAT’s checks and balances, you’ll be able to move more in all planes.
Less injury risk: Stabilizer muscles are important for helping you prevent injuries and these will likely become stronger using MAT. For example, if you fall and your muscles are imbalanced, you’ll most likely get hurt. However if you trip but have strong stabilizers, you have a much better chance of catching yourself.
Lower amounts of pain: Pain is often the result of improper patterns of movement that are continuously repeated for chronic muscle dysfunction. When this is added to a miscommunications between the brain and the muscles, it can leave you seriously hurting. Using MAT’s checks and balances, you can work to improve the communication, which lowers your level of pain.
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Endurance athletes who take part in marathons, triathlons or century bike rides typically have fitness goals of strength and stamina. Your body needs to be strong enough to carry you long distances, and it needs to have the proper training in order to function for extended periods of time.
Before a race it’s crucial to plan a training program to prepare, and most of this will include running or cycling through intervals of faster and slower speeds, up and down hills and longer and shorter distances. It should also include cross training with strength exercises and core workouts such as Pilates for total body training.
Another factor that should be included in a pre-race program is athletic recovery and stretching. Whether you’re a new or seasoned endurance athlete, you’ll be putting your body through more intense challenges, which is sure to leave you with sore muscles from time to time, but it can also increase your risk of injury. To prevent getting hurt and having a setback, you need to take the proper precautions, which include stretching and massage.
A century bike ride will take you 100 miles, and it will certainly test your mental and physical prowess. This may seem like a lofty goal, but it’s certainly an achievable one that many endurance cyclists aspire to complete.
Being able to bike 100 miles requires serious commitment, dedication, planning and training. Once you decide to take part in a century ride, you need to starting working at least eight weeks beforehand to prepare your mind and body for the challenge ahead. Your training program should consist of long and short rides as well as intervals of different speeds, resistance levels, terrain and hills. It’s also a good idea to cross training with weight lifting to strengthen your muscles and exercises such as Pilates that provide stretching and improve posture.
Another key component is nutrition. Your body won’t be able to last long if it is not being fueled properly. Even slight dehydration can completely zap your energy levels and cause sore musclesand cramps. If this does happen, giving your muscles a massage can help. Additionally, eating the right amount of carbohydrates and fats is needed to fuel your muscles and provide you with the nutrients to keep you going mile after mile. You’ll certainly want to pack snacks to stop and eat during your ride to replenish fuel sources, curb hunger pangs and boost energy. Remember not to pack any foods that are too heavy or hard to transport. A muffin may sound delicious, but it can be messy to eat. Also, be sure not to try any new foods in case it affects your stomach negatively and you have to stop mid-race.
Here are some tasty, helpful snack options to pack for your century ride:
Whether you’re preparing for a cycling race, training for a triathlon or simply appreciate the exhilarating cardio workout you get from riding, your body (the lower half in particular) is certainly being challenged.
Most of your focus will be on the meat of your training – developing programs for each ride to incorporate different terrain, speeds, hills and other aspects of riding itself. But it’s also important to remember that your training doesn’t stop once your session ends. In fact, time spent after you hop off your bike is just as important as time spent on the saddle. Cooling down and taking part in athletic recovery reduces your risk of sore muscles and injuries, which can sideline you and set you back in your schedule. This is especially problematic if you are on a deadline for a race.
After each bike ride you should be taking the time to stretch out your muscles and allow your mind and body to return to their resting states. It’s also useful to incorporate self massage into your routine each week, especially after an intense ride. Massage will help loosen up muscles even further, which is important so you don’t create any imbalances.
There are several key muscles you should focus your massager on after a bike ride: