I’ve mentioned before that I love plyometrics. (Plyometrics, “Jump Training” or “Plyos” are explosive exercises that exert max force in a very short amount of time. For more info, check out this page.) I also love any kind of training that really gets my heart rate up, gets me breathing heavy and leaves me feeling like I might fall over or pass out! I guess it reminds me of conditioning for sports and makes me feel athletic…or maybe I’m just an adrenaline junky! Either way, any HIIT, circuits, cross-fit, sprints etc makes me feel amazing and yields results!
I mentioned last week that I had, on occasion, received flack from other trainers about all of the high-intensity jumping and plyometric training that I previous had in my program. While most of the jabs were well intentioned, after a while I started to question myself and began to shy away from jump-training. Instead of listening to my body and training in a way that worked best for me, I was altering my program to fit other people’s expectations. My body wasn’t responding as well as it previously had and I wasn’t feeling as accomplished post-workout.
Last week, I came across an article in oxygen magazine about the benefits of plyometrics, that got my wheels spinning. Some of the key notes from the article were that plyos;
- Improve athletic performance
- Encourage muscle change and adaptation
- Increase metabolism and post-workout calorie burn
While these statements certainly support my love of plyos, it was this quote from strength and conditioning coach, Molly Galbraith, that really hit home and got me thinking:
“Plyometrics teach you how to produce force, absorb impact on landing and enhance body control, all of which contribute to stronger joints, a reduced risk of injury, and better skills when playing sports.”
This really opened my eyes and I began to notice a correlation between my training and recent injuries. Over the last 6 months I have incurred 2 injuries that have completely halted my training. I currently have a pinched nerve (possibly a herniated disk) that started as a sore neck the day before I left to cheer for the NBA All Star Games in February and worsened during the week while we performed. In addition to that injury, I sprained my ankle in October at practice the day before leaving for a 2 week NBA cheerleading trip around the world.
Before these incidents, I had never really been one to have injuries. Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely a little reckless and careless in a bull-in-a-china-shop kind of way, but I’m also very “durable” as my husband would put it. I’ve spent a fair share of time in the ER for stitches, concussions and the occasional broken finger, but I’ve never really had an injury that kept me “on the bench” so to speak. Since Both injuries happened while cheerleading, I initially came to the most logical conclusion, Cheerleading = Injury. I thought, “Maybe this is a sign that it’s time to hang up my pom-poms, because lets face it, 29 is a little old to still be cheering!” And while age may play a little part, I’m thinking there may be more to it.
After taking another look at my training and injuries with the article in mind, I started thinking that maybe the correlation wasn’t directly caused by cheerleading (or age,) but by the change in my program. Since I began working out in a gym 11 years ago, I was training for my sport….Cheerleading. Everything I did in the gym was geared towards becoming a better athlete. And while I have always kept a well rounded program, we (the cheerleaders) definitely had more plyometrics and jumping than say, a marathon runner would…and for good reason, you practice what you will perform. Maybe these injuries had occurred because I was no longer as conditioned to perform cheerleading skills as I had been in the past. You need to train for your sport. If I am going to jump and flip, I should continue to train to be able to jump and flip.
Moral of the story, listen to your body. You are the one who is ultimately responsible for your health and the one who has to live with your decisions. When it comes to training, there is so much information out there…so learn all you can, apply what think you need and make the decisions that are best for you!
I am so looking forward to returning to my normal, balanced training program, complete with plyometrics! If you are looking for some plyometric moves to add to your routine, check out some exercises on our YouTube channel. My friend, college roommate, and kick-ass group fitness instructor, Caitlin McGowan and I videoed some of our favorite moves after her class yesterday.
Check out our YouTube channel here!
As a final note, while working through these injuries, it has been especially important to keep my diet extra clean! Check out this Egg White “Pizza” that I tried this week!
Egg White Pizza
1.) Spray frying pan with oil, then cook egg white mixture (below) into omelette “crust.” Flip when fully cooked
- 5 egg whites (Add 1 Tbsp water and pepper to taste)
2.) Mix the following together and spread onto cooked eggs
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
3.) Add to following onto the tomato sauce until cheese melts
- 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
- sliced veggies (we chose mushrooms)
- 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese
*Recipe adapted from “Clean Eating Quick & Easy Meals”