So you’ve been playing a sport your whole life, and now you are finished competing. You most likely feel sad that competing in your sport full time is finished. You may also be feeling a bit relieved that you can turn your focus to other things, different hobbies, you career, or your family. And you even have time to try different sports or physical activities.
After I finished playing college basketball, I figured I would give running a try. I made it a goal for myself to complete a half-marathon and participate in a triathlon. After training for months, and completing two half-marathons, I found that my body wouldn’t let me run for long periods of time on pavement. It took more than a month to recover from each event—my knees and hips just couldn’t take it after 15 years of basketball. Because of this, I turned to swimming and cycling, two types of cardio that don’t put stress on my joints.
Alternative forms of activity also provide benefits, including injury prevention, rehabilitation, increase in overall fitness, motivation, and rejuvenation.
If you are interested in team sports:
Check out what organized adult leagues are available in your area. Some common sports may be basketball, soccer, volleyball, flag football, softball, cycling, dodgeball, bowling, bocce ball, kickball, curling, and even mini golf! The possibilities are endless, and usually include co-ed teams! Check with your local Parks and Recreation Department to see what is offered in your area.
If you are interested in solo events:
If you would still like to participate in local events, check your city calendar to see what might be coming up. Perhaps you can train toward a 5k, half-marathon, or marathon, depending on your experience and goals. Or, you may decide to try a triathlon or duathlon. Checking the calendar and working toward an event it a good tool for motivation, and still provides a feeling of participation and accomplishment that us athletes have been so used to!
Chronic issues that may have been caused by your sport:
You may find that certain parts of your body may not like some of your chosen activities due to strain from years upon years of one sport. Overuse or chronic injuries are commonly diagnosed and usually require a period of rest, combined with therapy and medications. They may need a longer time to heal than we would like, but most will resolve with little or no long-term problems.
Joints – If you have trouble with your joints, try some non-weight bearing exercises such as elliptical trainers, cross-country ski machines, stationary bikes, swimming, and water running. However, keep in mind that to keep your bones strong, you do need some weight bearing activity in your life, such as walking, running, and jumping. The Spokane Osteoporosis Center recommends 30 minutes to an hour, four times per week, of weight-bearing exercise.
Tendonitis – If you have tendonitis, you should not do anything that will put stress on the portion of your body that is affected. If you have not already seen a doctor about this issue, I suggest you do so that you may be set up with a physical therapist, who can work on helping to recover and can give specific strengthening exercises and stretching positions. If you are experiencing pain in your upper body, try running for your cardio. If you are experiencing pain in your legs, get your cardio from swimming.
Tennis/Golfers Elbow – Again, it is best to pay a visit go your physician and/or physical therapist for specific treatment. It is recommended to avoid “grippy workouts,” such as pull-ups, farmer’s carries, kettlebell swings, etc. When pain less than 2 out of 10, ease back into upper body workouts. In the meantime, focus on core work and cardio exercises like running, jumping, and stationary biking.
Stress Fractures – Commonly, stress fractures occur in the foot, and must be diagnosed and treated by an orthopaedic surgeon. Stress fractures of the metatarsals are treated with modified weightbearing, casting, and sometimes surgery. Talk to your doctor about non-weight bearing exercises, such as swimming, the elliptical, and stationary biking.
So what activities work for you?
Fitzgerald, Matt. “Eight Benefits of Cross-Training.” (Nov. 22, 2004.) Runners World. Retrieved Dec. 30, 2014 from http://www.runnersworld.com/workouts/eight-benefits-cross-training.
“The Best Ways to Treat, Prevent Tendonitis.” University of Rochester Medical Center. Retrieved Dec. 30, 2014 from http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=739.
“Tendonitis Fact Sheet.” Muscle & Strength. Retrieved Dec. 30, 2014 from http://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/tendonitis-fact-sheet.html.
Iero, Joseph. “Chronic or Overuse Injuries in Sports.” (2013.) National Center for Sports Safety. Retrieved Dec. 30, 2014 from http://www.sportssafety.org/articles/chronic-overuse-injuries/.
Mathews, Lindsey. “How to Heal Tennis Elbow & Golfers Elbow.” Guest Contributer: Breaking Muscle. Retrieved Dec. 30, 2014 from http://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/how-to-heal-tennis-elbow-and-golfers-elbow.