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Performing at your physical peak in your chosen sport is what most athletes seek to achieve. The ability to push your body, knowing you’ve done the training, physically and mentally, to allow you to make the most of the time and dedication you have put into your sport. Unfortunately, we don’t exist in a bubble or on an island, and our lives are also part of our training. Most people find relief from mental stress in their workout or training session. Have you ever heard someone say, ‘I gym every day, it keeps me sane’? We definitely have. And there is evidence that a work out definitely helps people deal with stress. The problem is when stress starts to take a physical toll on the body.
Stress can have a physical effect on the body, causing muscles to tighten, impeding performance and leading to injuries . Injuries in themselves lead to further stress. Researchers have found that overtraining can lead to psychological factors even before physical and they believe that the mental status of an athlete should be reported as a ‘high level of vigour’ during training (and not fatigue). If athletes report that fatigue is the primary ‘feeling’ during training, there is an imbalance and the athlete is possibly overworking or is under a form of stress.
It is therefore incredibly important to monitor your mental health during a training season (perhaps by keeping a training diary) in order to maintain your health and ensure you can achieve your physical goals. In order to maintain physical performance, athletes must realise they require holistic health – mental and physical. The body needs to rest and your mind needs to sleep too. Maintaining healthy habits such as regular sleep patterns, good food habits and regular rest helps the body and mind to restore and regenerate. Athletes need a clear mind to focus on the task at hand. When you’re not focused on what you’re doing, the injuries creep in and mistakes are made.
It’s therefore important to tackle stress and tension by going for a walk, learning to meditate, doing some yoga, reading a book, writing in a journal, taking a nap, or talking it out with a friend or family member. Whether you’re about to hit your peak, are at your peak or you’re recovering, make sure you take the whole of you into account, and may the VITAFORCE be with you.