Planning for injury prevention, mental stability and sports performance

Jah Ying Chung
Mar 7, 2018 · 4 min read

Why fitness?

For me, it’s to have fun while doing the physical activities I enjoy. Right now, that’s mainly:

  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Gymnastics

I have to admit, in the past I’ve engaged in many other sports (e.g. badminton, table tennis and equestrian showjumping), at the varsity (university) and even national (Hong Kong) level, but I never felt the need (or received instruction) to include supplementary fitness sessions in my training to boost my competitive performance. Maybe that’s why I was never really good…

Fitness for performance

Ultimate Frisbee was the first sport that prompted me to actively improve my fitness to improve my performance. Ultimate games are long, usually 70–90 minutes per game, and over a typical 2-day tournament, we usually play 6–8 games. The fields are big too, about the length of a rugby pitch. Given that I grew up playing sports either on horseback (which actually requires a lot of stamina, but clearly using very different muscles) or on a small indoor court, I did not have a lot of experience (and capacity) for full field running. As a result, I would be wiped at the end of a game. As the day progressed, the fatigue would set in earlier and earlier during the game. And that’s just not fun.

In order to have more fun, I needed more stamina. And that’s when I started to use apps like Sworkit to do short interval workouts every morning. They’d only take 20 minutes or less, but I would work up a sweat. When I got bored, I’d go for some intervals on a stationary bike instead (accompanied by a podcast). After 3–6 months, I felt a noticeable difference on the field and gradually dropped the routine. Some team members then started to add similar routines prior to training sessions, so I tagged along. Some of the players apparently did weight training too, but I thought that was overkill.

Until… I started getting injured.

Fitness for injury prevention

The injuries started to come as I moved from being a recreational ultimate player to a competitive one, playing and training more frequently, and also on progressively more physically (and mentally) demanding teams. I was now playing a 2-day tournament every month and training probably three days per week. This was when the string of injuries started…

Sprained ankles, ITB issues, pulled quad, hip pain, knee pain; the injuries would cycle in every couple months, and it was a constant battle to recover in time for the next tournament (many injuries probably never fully healed). And almost every time I stumbled into the physio’s office, he would tell me that I needed to work on my core, that x set of muscles weren’t strong enough to support y body part and hence the injury, and that for a competitive (field) athlete, I was worryingly weak. I’m not sure when his message finally hit home for me, and I decided I needed to start working out.


The Weekly Routine
In the last month, the stars somehow aligned and I found myself on the Ultimate field once again. With only a handful of trainings beforehand, I managed to finish a 2-day tournament (my first in half a year) scot-free. Now that I’m back, I plan to stay for a little while at least, but I am vehement on staying injury free for the season!

To this end, I’ve decided to set down weekly fitness routine, so that I have a tested plan to follow. Of course, I will still experiment and optimize, but I believe documentation is key to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again. It also helps to have something concrete for fellow players to reference and the occasional expert to review.

Weekly Activities

Strengthening

I put my focus on legs and core because this is where I incur the most frequent injuries, usually using weights. I also try to do some form of core every morning, as it helps remind me to maintain good posture / engage my core throughout the day.

Core strength

  • Deadlift: 1x
  • Core / Pilates: 1x
  • Gymnastics / Aerial: 1x

Leg strength

  • Weighted squats: 1x
  • Yoga with balancing: 1x
  • Ankle / foot exercises: 5x
    I try to do these first thing in the morning, I may also do a little bit while I’m standing at my desk

Conditioning / Sport

These are activities that I do specifically for the sports I’m playing. I’ve noticed my stamina is not great, so I’m adding some HIIT to my weekly routine. I generally try to do something low-impact (e.g. spinning) and one that involves running mechanics (e.g. using inclined body-weight treadmills).

During the off-season of Ultimate, I do a lot more gymnastics, including aerial, acrobatics, handstand / free-form movement workshops and all forms of yoga that involve me being upside down (body balances).

  • Sprints / plyometrics: 1x (sometimes combined with squat session)
  • Low-impact HIIT: 1x
    E.g. cycling, trampolining
  • Ultimate frisbee: 1–2x
    3-hour Sessions for training, 2 days for tournament weekends

Recovery

Stretching, rolling, physio and massage. Here are some of my favourite stretching classes.

  • Physio or massage: 1x
  • Neck/shoulder stretch: 1x
  • Back stretch or wheel yoga: 1x
  • Focussed muscle relaxing, e.g. stretch, rolling, yin yoga: 1x
  • Rolling: at least 5 mins every day
    I always keep a roller in the living room to encourage the habit

Weekly plan

I try to do three things every day: 1) morning: 10-minute rehab exercises, 2) lunchtime: a recovery class (e.g. stretching) and 3) evening: strengthening / conditioning. I like doing slower / lighter activities in the morning as I’m usually fasted, and also puts me in a good state of mind for work. Then, I save most of my eating in the PM, especially right before and after the workout, to maximize nutrition absorption.

Mon: Recovery + conditioning

  • Lunchtime: Low-impact HIIT
  • PM: Stretch

Tues-Thurs: Strengthening / conditioning

  • Lunchtime: Pilates / aerial (1) or stretch (2)
  • PM: weights / HIIT

Fri: Rest

  • Lunchtime: Pilates / aerial
  • PM: Physio / massage

Sat & Sun: Tournament (or simulate)

Either a two-day frisbee tournament OR

  • 1x frisbee training (3hrs)
  • 1x HIIT

Future Optimizations

  • Couple workout with stretching (save time)
  • Optimize split workouts

lifeops

Daily life operations for impact maximizers, geeks and lazy bums

Jah Ying Chung

Written by

Efficiency + psychology geek. Past edtech founder & climate campaigner @China. Experimenting with “life operations” to design a sustainable and impactful life.

lifeops

lifeops

Daily life operations for impact maximizers, geeks and lazy bums

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