Spring Training

Softball season is nigh upon us. To avoid pulling a hammy (or worse) in front of buddies and coworkers, start
limbering up now. Here’s an easy, workable plan:

Coming out of hibernation and becoming an immediate weekend warrior means pulled hamstrings, groins, lower back muscles, and the occasional shoulder,” says Tony Tierno, director of fitness and human performance at HealthQuest in Flemington. Tierno suggests easing into the season with cardio and resistance training three days a week.

Pre-training: Warm up with five to eight minutes of cardio or a dynamic stretching program. Use core balls or resistance bands to get blood flowing and increase flexibility. Strengthen muscles, tendons, and ligaments with weight resistance. Wrap up your workout with no more than 30 minutes of cardio. Cool down with five to ten minutes of static stretches that elongate muscle groups. Hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds.

In-season: Cut workouts in half to balance calories burned during games and practices. Pitchers need to work their non-throwing arm to stabilize muscles in the torso. Catchers need strong hip flexors and flexible hamstrings to explode out of a squat and throw a runner out. Batters should run sprints and strengthen both the upper and lower body to increase swinging power.

Post-game: Before reaching for a couple of cold ones, grab a sports drink to replenish electrolytes. Jumping jacks followed by static stretches will help prevent cramping. If you pull a muscle or sustain a bruise, apply ice immediately to repel coagulated blood and allow fresh blood to circulate. Most strains heal in a week or two, but check with a doctor before resuming physical activity.

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