Help Prevent Injuries
by Kristi Wills
As a fellow fitness competitor, I certainly do know
that as we get closer to our competition, it does not take much for
our bodies to suffer minor/major injuries. With all our weight training,
cardio, dieting, and practicing our routines, day after day, we push
our bodies to the max. Even though we may be getting into better an
better shape as the weeks get closer to our show, this is when our bodies
are the most susceptible to injuries. Our body weight is dropping and
there is very little fat protecting us. Our joints may be becoming sore
and we are just plain tired! Even so, we keep flipping in the air, slamming
our selves on a hardwood floor, leaping, jumping, and dancing until
we have our routines right where we want them to be. In the following,
I will give you some suggestions on how you can help to prevent the
injuries and keep all of your training consistent.
To begin with, you need to stretch before and after every workout. This
is something that can’t be rushed and needs to be done from head to
toe. Not only does it keep you loose, but it also makes you more flexible
which we know we have to be for our routines. Also, when weight training,
make sure you do a few warm-up sets, and when doing cardio, you should
always do a 5 minute warm-up and a 5 minute cool-down. Again, you need
to keep your body loose and get your blood flowing. All of this is especially
important if you do your training early in the morning.
When getting ready to practice your fitness routine, again you need
to stretch before and after you practice. Make sure you are easing your
way into your splits. None of your stretches should feel forced. You
also should make sure you warm up your strength moves, jumps, turns,
high kicks and tumbling. Just because you feel you know your routine
inside and out, it does not take much for us to strain a muscle or pull
a hamstring with the combination of moves we perform. Always end with
stretching, so that your body is able to properly cool down and relax
after the 2 mins. of high impact energy you just exerted.
In addition, you always want to do the best you can to get 7-8 hrs.
of good night sleep each night. This is when your body takes the time
to recover, along with helping to keep your immune system strong. In
addition, I take Glutamine, BCAA’s, Vitamin C, and Joint Performance
to help with my recovery and to build a stronger immune system. I also
make sure I drink about a gallon of water a day. Lastly, I treat myself
to a massage every 2 weeks. I have my therapist work on whatever may
be bothering me at the time or working on areas where I may need to
increase some flexibility, such as my hamstrings. In the past, she has
worked on strained muscles and has helped me to recover in half the
time it would have taken me if I didn't have her. Also, as we all know,
a massage is just a good way to help us relax with all the hustle and
bustle that goes on when preparing for a show!
What we all have to remember is that as competitors, we have a lot of
drive and it does not take much to push ourselves too far too quick.
The most important thing we must remember is that we have to listen
to our bodies. When you are feeling extremely tired or really low on
energy, it probably is not a good idea to try to do your routine full
out. We are a lot more careless when we are in this state and even the
easiest moves can cause trouble. Instead, maybe just do your routine
in halves or practice different sequences. The same goes with your weight
training. If you just don't have the strength one day, lower your weight.
If you try to force out reps with weight that is too heavy that day,
you're most likely going to pull something or hurt another area of your
body that's trying to compensate for your tiredness. On a final note,
remember that we are humans and you only get one body, so take care
of it with adequate amounts of sleep, rest, and nutrition!
About the Author...
My name is Kristi Wills and I have
been a fitness competitor for 1½ years. I compete in the NPC.
In April of 2004 I was the overall fitness winner at the Jr. USA's.
I then went on to place third in the short class at the USA's
in July. My goal for 2005 is to earn my Pro Card. I am very fortunate
to have great genetics and a strong background in gymnastics.
In addition, Cathy Savage from Savage Choreography and Kim Oddo
from Body By O have developed a workout schedule, diet, and fitness
routines that have helped me to be a top contender at the national
level. The best things about competing for me are being able to
entertain the audience with my fitness routines and walking out
on stage with the confidence that I know I did everything I could
do to look my very best. With each competition, I learn how to
better prepare myself, not only physically, but mentally. However,
the most important thing is that you compete for the love of the
sport and strive to reach your own personal goals.
As a 4th grade teacher, I promote a healthy lifestyle
to future generations. I have led class discussions about the
importance of diet and exercise. In the past, my students have
nicknamed me “Miss Muscles” and get excited when they know I have
a competition coming up. They wonder about some of the foods I
have to eat and ask me if I went to Florida recently because of
the tanning products. In the words of a nine-year-old, they find
it to be “cool” and “I can’t believe my teacher can do flips and
one-arm push-ups.” Besides the students looking forward to seeing
how I do in competitions, I also hope that they will choose to
follow my example of eating healthy and exercising regularly.
For present and future fitness competitors, I
am also available to help you learn the ins and outs of the sport.
Over the past year and a half, I have gained many resources necessary
for the high heels you need to walk in, the stage make-up you
should wear, costumes, DJs, etc. This is a sport that you can’t
go into blindly, as too much goes on behind the scenes. If you
have questions about anything, feel free to e-mail me at:
With my past experiences and list of reliable
resources, together we can get you the help you need. Good luck
to you all, and remember, it’s all about having fun and being
proud of the personal goals you have reached.