By Gina Pongetti Angeletti, MPT

Your season is here! For most, it will be four months of competitions with a long, hard lead-up focus on preparing for routines and perfecting skills. Here are 10 ways that you can fine-tune your body to not just survive your season…but to THRIVE!

1. Water! We should be drinking at least ½ our body weight in ounces just to live! Example, if you weigh 100lbs, drinking at least 50 oz is great. Add ONE glass of water each day in the morning as soon as you wake up. Water helps with decreasing fatigue, nourishing your body, and flushing your system to help with recovery!

2. Sleep. Studies have shown that your body is stimulated by the light of electronic devices. It takes a while for you to relax after stopping interaction with your computer or cell phone. Stop ONE hour before bed, and see the difference in your quality of sleep and alertness the next day!10-ways-2

3. Nutrition. It can be hard with schedules to always eat right. Natural, non-canned, not pre-prepped food contains so many more nutrients and vitamins. Every meal, you should eat at least ONE fruit or vegetable. Spend time at night anticipating needs for the following day, so that fast food stops can be avoided!

4. Posture. It is so very important in our daily lives. Every hour, for at least ONE minute, focus on your shoulder, back, and head position. You will be amazed at how much your body will start to do these self-check automatically!

5. Stretching! Let’s focus on a body part a day, ONE minute each day, ONE stretch, and we will have a more well-rounded routine before no time! Here is a start: Monday: Quads, Tuesday: Hamstrings, Wednesday: Calves, Thursday: Spine/Arch, Friday Wrists, Saturday: Groin, Sunday: Glutes. Let’s go!

6. Jumping. What athlete ever says, “I jump high enough, I don’t need to really work on it!” None! So, spend ONE minute each day, or a few days a week, doing jump training. Some examples? Squat hold for ONE minute then stretch jumps for ONE minute as many as you can, properly, until you are exhausted!

7. Breathing. As nerves take hold in competition, and stress increases in practice, gymnasts get tense in their shoulders and neck and breathe shallow. We get very caught up in focusing on smiling, performing, remembering routines, activating muscles and so much more. For at least ONE minute a day, focus on your breathing. Think about your ribs opening, your stomach/diaphragm expanding to let air in, breathing in through your nose. Then, think about when you breath out, controlled, relaxing your shoulders, letting your ribs sink down, and releasing tension in your muscles from head to toe.

10-ways8. Rolling. There is little that is more important in the longevity of a sport than rolling out sore or used muscles to help them recover. Spend a few days a week, start with one, progress to five, with a roller for ONE minute. Pick your calves, your IT bands or quads.

9. Spine. One of the most important sets of joints in your body, every performer, artist and athlete needs a healthy spine. So, ONE extra minute, each day, one arching (cobras, back bends, bridging, partner stretching, etc.) will help you to avoid painful back injuries!

10. Shoes! Your feet are the base of your body! They set up the position that your knees will be in and help determine the stability of your ankles. They rely on the strength of your glutes to help them be positioned right. Barefoot sport athletes need to rely on muscles to position feet properly. Avoid loose-fitting slip-on shoes and Uggs and instead choose supportive gym shoes or boots that are fitted and support your arch.

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A former gymnast of 14 years, Gina served for more than 8 years on the USA Gymnastics National Health Care Referral Network, providing medical care at meets and lecturing. Currently, Gina takes care of many of our nation’s top gymnasts, including local elites and Olympians. In 2007, Gina started her own business, MedGym, LLC, and she now works with many local figure skating and cheerleading clubs, dance studios, gymnastics gyms, and musicians as well as endurance sports clubs and more while providing PT services in the Chicagoland Suburbs with Achieve Orthopedic Rehab Institute. Her website can be viewed here: http://medgym.net/