Working in the field of massage therapy has definitely given me the inside view on the toll life takes on the body. Unfortunately most of us learn too late to really take care of our bodies, after all it is the only possession we have from day one to the day we die, well until they figure out brain transplants.
So I just really want to lay down the simple basic every day stuff you should be doing to maintain your body and well being.
Check out more of Jim’s Self Care articles.
Hydrate Properly and Correctly
This one is a pretty common sense thing as our bodies are 50-65% water. It is responsible for many functions and it keeps everything functioning properly, you can’t go more than three weeks without taking in fluid. Now soccer is a very good sport for depleting our water stores, and in between practices, conditioning and matches it is easy to not quite get proper hydration. Not to mention life often gets in the way. The amount of water you need to intake to be healthy varies. I found this neat article on how to calculate how much water you need and it is pretty on point. But as a rule of thumb you should be drinking at least 100 oz of water a day. But avoid over hydrating or in taking too much at once. Water is good but you can potentially have too much.
One thing I’ve picked up from my clients is that they hate stretching. They don’t remember to do it, they don’t “have time” or they think that the stretching and taking care of muscles is my job and not theirs. Frankly it is easy to stretch, it is easy to learn and establish stretching routines thanks to the internet. Another issue is getting into that “I already stretched” mindset when going between activities. Honestly it only takes 5 minutes out of your day to really go through a thorough stretching routine. You can do that after you shower before bed, while you watch tv, while you wait in line. Pin a print out with stretches to a wall if you can’t remember to do it yourself, you can even set a reminder on your phone. But basically stretching will maintain your muscles abilities to lengthen out and stay loose. Which we all need.
Take Time to Rest
Life gets hectic, and during the season it gets even crazier. There is very little time to rest and re-coup between the game, school, homework and tap lessons if you are into that kind of thing. So it isn’t unusual for there to be nights where there are only 4 or less hours of sleep. The usual amount of sleep we need a night usually varies because some people sleep more efficiently than others, getting restful sleep much easier. But on par the average person needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Rest doesn’t just translate into sleeping at night, it also translates to letting yourself take those 10 minute naps. Even a spot of meditation will do, it especially helps before bed. But rest is the best form of self care there is in the end, that is where the body does all its maintenance.
Correct your Posture
We live in a time where cell phones are pretty much used by everyone for everything, and then we go from that to a computer. Also that and we spend quite a bit of time sitting down. Our bodies aren’t designed to spend as much time as we do hunching over our technologies as modern life has led us to. Poor posture is one of the biggest reasons for any sort of back, neck and hip issues. We end up fighting gravity much harder than we have to. Our bones are designed to carry and support us much more so than the muscles are, and by hunching and leaning forward the muscles are straining to keep you upright which creates an imbalance in the musculature. Basically all the muscles in our the front of our neck, torso and arms are much more bulked then the muscles in the back due to constantly being pulled into contraction. Poor posture can cause pain/discomfort and makes the likely hood of injury greater.
Get up and walk around if you sit too long, put your phone in your pocket, and maybe even move the keyboard or laptop off the desk and into your lap so you aren’t reaching over for it. For gods sake don’t sleep on your stomach, on your side with your arm under your head or in the fetal position. You are contracting the same muscles for 4-9 hours at at time every single night, and those muscles adapt to hold that position. Makes me cringe just thinking about what that does to the muscle tissue. I’ve gotten to the point where I can tell people what position they sleep in by just looking at them.
Vary activities, get body work done
Muscles like to move, go figure. Doing a variety of activities is great for muscle health as you are conditioning them to do a variety of functions and motions.
Listen and respect your body
If you are in pain, don’t walk it off. Definitely don’t keep playing. If you think you are hurt or something is too tight to the point where you are genuinely worried about injury, get it taken care of before you go and really hurt yourself for several weeks or months. Better to miss a game here than a month there. There is more to life than just the game, and your body needs to be able to function for every bit of it. If you give your body the proper care it needs you will be playing soccer in your 70’s. “No pain, no gain” is a bogus saying, also “pain is weakness leaving the body” is utter horse hockey. Next time you hear someone say that whack them upside the head and ask if they got anything out of it. Concept applies to any kind of pain, it isn’t beneficial, though when you are getting body work done it some times is necessary.