It is that time of year again, where seasons change along with the professional sports available to us on demand. As an immigrant that came to this country only knowing how to play soccer and cricket, I was overjoyed when my elementary school principal taught me the game of basketball. I fell in love and couldn’t stop shooting ever since. So when my dad would take us to the park, he would run and my brother and I would practice our new found love.

Fitness has always been a part of my life, we stayed active and ate mostly home cooked meals(pizza Fridays was thing in the Briscoe household, especially when mom worked a double at the hospital. ) As I evolved into an athlete and eventually a fitness professional I continuously educated myself on techniques of training. How to exercise correctly, eat correctly and different forms recovery. Now with almost 20 years of exercising and working out and 10 of those as a certified personal trainer under my belt, I can say I’ve learned a few things.

With being a professional NBA athlete, it is vital that you take your off season serious to decrease your chances of injury as much as possible. It is unfortunate that guys like Kwahi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs, Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans or even Derrick Rose from the Cleveland Cavaliers who are key players to their teams have to sit out due to injury.

That being said I’ve compiled a short list of things you should be doing to stay healthy whether you are an NBA athlete or not.

1.HIRE A PROFESSIONAL
As a pro level athlete, there should be no expense spared or result left to chance. Retaining someone who is knowledgeable and experienced will take the guess work out of your plan and results. Efficient and effective workouts that are dynamic and also sport specific will give you the edge you need to compete on a high level on a nightly basis. Michael Jordan had several trainers, Lebron James employs a team to keep him healthy year round which explains how he’s been able to operate at a high level for so many years. Make the investment, it will benefit you short-term on the court and long-term post career.

2. REST/SLEEP
A rest day should be just that, rest. My suggestion would be to do some form of stretching. Whether its self-myofacial release (SMR) utilizing a foam roller, deep tissue massage, active stretching or dynamic stretching. Active stretching is the most traditional form of stretching that can be accomplished by taking the muscle to the point of tension, holding it for a minimum of 30 seconds. Dynamic stretching uses force production of a muscle and the body’s momentum to take a joint through the full range of motion. Perform one set of 10 repetitions using 3 to 10 dynamic stretches. Any one of the afore-mentioned stretches on your day off, pre and post game or workout will get the job done.

3. NUTRITION
Along with proper sleep and stretching, I would also pay close attention to nutritional intake. Fruits and vegetables aid in a speedy recovery and provides a great amount of energy; some of my favorite fruits and vegetables are pineapples, blueberries, bananas, broccoli, sweet potato just to name a few. According to the National Association of Health (NIH) an organization which I worked for as personal trainer; iron, glutamine and protein will all aid in optimizing muscle training response during exercise and subsequent recovery period both on and off the court.

4. RECOVERY
Recovery is a very general word because it includes so much including the afore-mentioned; stretch, sleep, diet, massage and shouldn’t be taken lightly when you’re a high level athlete. When you’re on the court you need to recover from a play fast, running full court for 48 minutes for 82 games a season can slow you down naturally. Therefore in order to stay fast on the court, you must have various forms of recovery.

‘Training too frequently and intensely — again, without prioritizing recovery — means that stress never subsides.’ – John Berardi, Ph.D.

4a. Cryo therapy is the modern day version of an ice bath. This form of recovery helps to flush out lactic acid as well as reduce and prevent any inflammation that may exist in the athlete’s joints and muscles. The maximum suggested time is 3 minutes per session due to the severe cold.
4b. The Normatec Dual-Leg Recovery System is a set of boots placed on the athletes legs to aid in flushing out lactic acid, toxins and deoxygenated blood the body doesn’t need allowing our cells to recovery and give the athlete enough oxygen to perform better.

5. MEDITATE
I am personally an advocate of mediation and the myriad of benefits that it can have on an individuals life. Meditation serves to quite the world around you so that you can connect with your subconscious. A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology revealed that the results of meditation are associated with reduced stress levels in addition to reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol. In doing so you begin to learn more about yourself, you find answers that you’ve been looking for all through the power of relaxation and visualization. Benefits such as decreased anxiety and stress, strengthen your immune system, gain mental clarity and focus can elevate your mind and game.