Why Cross Training Could Be Just The Exercise For You
Exercise enthusiasts have been cross training for years. However, the term itself and its popularity are fairly new. What is cross training you ask? Cross training is the participation in multiple types of exercises (or multiple sports) to aid an individual in achieving greater performance in their primary sport. There are several reasons why this approach has become so popular, three of which I will discuss.
IMPROVING PHYSICAL FITNESS
Cross training conditions the body in multiple ways often involving an aerobic, strengthening, stretching, and core stabilization components. This combination leads to a more well-rounded physical fitness that addresses more of the body’s needs. To make this a little clearer, I’ll give you an example. Many body builders normally spend all of their exercise time solely devoted to weightlifting. While having greater strength does increase functional capacity and help prevent future injury, it lacks aerobic conditioning and stretching components. A body builder will most likely experience improved heart health, greater weight loss, and better joint range of motion if they were to supplement their workouts with a cross training program.
MINIMIZING THE CHANCES OF OVERUSE INJURIES
Believe it or not, the tissues in your body are damaged when you exercise. This is actually a good thing because the body will rebuild the damaged tissue at a cellular level, which will in turn make the body stronger and more adaptive. In order for this rebuilding process to take place, the damaged tissue must rest. An example of a common overuse injury is stress fractures in runners. The repetitive forces that the legs attenuate while running break down the leg bones. Without rest, the damage to the bones can proliferate and eventually cause stress fractures. Stress fractures are very painful and can keep a runner of off the roads for several months. However, a runners participation in a cross training program would put time between runs and help distribute the exercise induced orthopaedic stresses. This in turn allows rest for the damaged tissue and minimizes overuse injuries.
ENHANCING EXERCISE PARTICIPATION
It’s no secret that two common reasons why individuals drop out of exercise programs are boredom and injury. Cross training enhances exercise participation by minimizing injury (as stated in the previous paragraph) and reducing boredom. A cross training program keeps the mind and body more interested in exercise. At the end of the day, the hope is that long-term exercise adherence will lead to creation of a healthier individual.
In closing, I recommend cross training for because it can improve physical fitness, minimize overuse injuries, and enhance exercise participation. OrthoVirginia’s Physical Therapists can build a cross training program that is just right for your body and your goals. Feel free to ask your OrthoVirginia Physical Therapist how you can start cross training at your next appointment.
Ethan Sherman, DPT, PT