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The Importance of Cross Training

Cross-training is a sports term. It describes training parts of your body differently from the one you’ve been focusing on. An example is a runner who cross-trains by lifting weights to build strength in the upper chest and back. Personally, I’ve noticed how much stronger a dancer I am from integrating kickboxing into my weekly exercise routine; and vice versa, my kickboxing is also improved by integrating the techniques I learn from dance.

You don’t need to be an athlete to incorporate cross-training. The same concept can apply to physical therapy as well. When rehabilitating from a knee injury, one may also work on improving posture and building up the scapular muscles.

To excel at something, we do need to focus on it. Just as in training for a specific sport, in physical therapy, we may get assigned exercises that target a specific area in our body. Repeating exercise routines means improvement can be gauged. One may show greater mastery of an exercise or the ability to do more repetitions, showing improved strength. A negative aspect of participating in only one sport or strengthening only one area of the body is getting into a rut. Doing the same exercise routine every day can become monotonous.

Another potential problem that

occurs when doing the same type of activity repeatedly is that we become at risk for injuries. This occurs more with specific sports training than in physical therapy as the intensity of exercise is much lower in physical therapy and your therapist is monitoring your progress and form.

Cross-training allows us to rest parts of our body we have been focusing on which promotes healing. Other possible benefits of cross-training include improving overall body strength, gaining flexibility, and building aerobic endurance. I liken cross-training to playing a fun game with our bodies. It makes us stronger and able to handle various unpredictable challenges in our lives.

There are several ways to incorporate cross-training into a physical therapy exercise program, such as simply integrating walking into your exercise regimen. Other cross-training tips include alternating between land and water-based exercises. If you’re recovering from any knee or ankle problem, working to build your core and back strength would be highly beneficial. Cross-training can also include incorporating balance and reaction training into any program. If you seek guidance on how it fits cross-training into your life, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d be happy to help!

Michele S Jang, PT is a physical therapist who likes to look outside the box. A physical therapist for almost 23 years, she has extensive training in manual therapy or the use of hands to help rehabilitate the body. She has taught in the United States and abroad. A team of therapists at her clinic, Spirit Winds, offers an array of expertise on exercise, fall prevention, body mechanics, and proper breathing technique to increase awareness and healing. Call 805 543-5100 or

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