Lets just admit it: everyone wants to be raw. You want to be a badass. You want to rock a slammin Tom Selleck stache, tattoo every living inch of your body, and ride a Harley with no hands because they’re too occupied bench pressing European lingerie models. You want to be extreme, with a capital X, and nothing is more extreme than extreme sports. (Hell, its in the name. How much more extreme can you be?) But you know what’s NOT extreme? Slings, casts, and fannypacks. All of these unfortunate things are preventable. Here are some Extreme Sport tips to help you to avoid two of the three.
1. Wear a helmet:
No matter how much you train, how many years of experience you have, or how superior you feel while belittling the courage of the chrome-dome gumbies, protective gear is a non-negotiable must. Accidents don’t always result from lack of preparation. Even the best-made plans of mice and men can topple under a fluke incident, and the horror stories of the results thereof could fill libraries. Risk of serious injury is part and parcel with extreme sports, and the single simplest way to mitigate that risk is slapping on a proper brain-case. Further protective gear varies from sport to sport, and is highly encouraged, but at the bare minimum, the bottom line is this: in dealing with hard, ground-like objects at a gravity-induced speed, no record exists of anyone ever thinking “Damn, I’m so glad I don’t have a helmet on right now.” Why no such record exists, is for you to draw your own conclusion.
2. Modernize your views on warmups:
We can all agree that walking off the street into a 200lb deadlift will cause you nothing but painful regret, but the tides may be changing on how best to prepare yourself. Contrary to widely-held belief, recent studies suggest that classic touch-your-toes stretching before exercise not only may do nothing to decrease risk of injury, but may in fact increase injuries while exercising. (citation link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/3374401/Stretching-before-exercise-can-be-bad-for-you.html) Many professionals now agree that the best way to warm up to a training session is a full-body exercise to raise your body temperature and wake up muscles through light use, such as yoga, ab training, or a short jog. For actual game days, gradually build up to full performance by loosening up with sport-specific workouts – ride a few small waves, take a few powder runs and bop some small jumps, crush a few short climbs within your threshold.
3. Learn how to fall:
We’d like to call it flying. Gravity begs to differ. Whether it’s the moment your lactic-soaked muscles finally peel you off the face of a 400ft. cliff – or the moment you realize that while hitting that jump at full speed felt so fuxin sick bro, you are currently watching the landing jump swiftly disappear behind you – falling happens. What matters is learning to make sure you can walk away from it. Suppress the urge to reach your arms out to catch your fall, because as much as individuality is normally encouraged, you may disagree with your fingers, wrist, and elbows’ newfound decision to “go their own way.” Relax as you approach the ground: a supple body absorbs and distributes shock far better than a rigid one. When you hit, its time to tuck and roll – shoulder-roll if you’re going headfirst, log-roll if you’re landing sideways. Remember that whatever goes into the air with you, is coming down with you, so once you gain a little bit of control try to angle yourself out of the way of your descending motorcycle, skis, or ill-fated flying machine.
4. Don’t ignore your body:
If your knee is giving you trouble after that digger you took in the racecourse last week, know what’s probably not going to help it? Doing an Empire State Building’s worth of stairs. It may seem counter-intuitive, but not exercising may be the best thing for your immediate physical success. A twinge will heal eons faster than a tear. Soreness and muscle fatigue are truisms of pushing your body to the limit – learn what feels normal so that when something does feel off, you’ll notice. Listen to your body, and when it seems like it may have something to say, don’t ignore it. Giving a part of your body a break doesn’t mean that you’re cursed to a week of Doritos and TrueBlood, either – if your knee is feeling wonky, focus this week on upper body endurance. Either way, continuing to push your body when it’s protesting is the fastest way to the sidelines. What your body says matters, so remember – no means no.
5. Prepare. And prepare correctly:
Few of us dedicated enough to pursue a sport that regularly threatens to rob us of our health or even our lives are also narcissistic enough to convince ourselves that we don’t need proper preparation to perform at our best. (It’s sort of self-selecting that way.) Any time you are going to go ‘all in’ with your health at stake, make sure you’re making an informed gamble. Check the weather to make sure you’re not walking into the greatest storm of the century. Exercise regularly and don’t ignore inconspicuous but important muscle groups (like the nefarious ACL) and in addition to sport-specific workouts, cross-train to ensure that your body can handle anything Fate throws at it. Eat well – both in terms of proper nutrition and just plain enough – and if you’re going to be isolated, make sure that someone knows where you’re going, when you’re going to be back, and who to contact if you’re not.