Workout Advice -- Olympic Style continued...
If you continue to press on too hard, says Selznick, disaster is bound to occur.
"Fatigue doesn't affect joints, it affects muscles, but if muscles aren't strong your joints take the brunt of the force -- and something has to give," says Selznick. That something, he says, can be a bone, tendon, or ligament. And it could mean a summer on the bleachers instead of on the field.
If you do get injured, Walsh says stop activity immediately and take care of the problem.
"Don't try to push through. If you are injured, listen to your body and stop, or you risk making whatever happens a lot worse," says Walsh.
Getting Your Body in Olympic Shape
To help avoid playtime injuries and keep their toned bodies in medal-winning shape, our three Olympians tell WebMD they frequently perform a system of exercises known as plyometrics. These are body movements based on the principle that short muscle contraction is stronger if it immediately follows a lengthening contraction. The end result, they say, is the muscle is able to store more elastic energy -- and that means fewer injuries.
Their regular workouts also involve a form of resistance training known as "fast twitch" -- which actually refers to the muscle fibers that contract the quickest and generate the most power.
"It's resistance going both down and up and it works on your core strength. It's all done on rehabilitation machines and as hard as you push the machine, that's as hard as it pushes you back," says Walsh.
But for those of us just a little less active in our sporting life, each Olympian suggests frequent workouts with a yoga or medicine ball for overall strength training that can benefit you in almost any sport.
"It improves core strength and balance. And this can be beneficial no matter what activity you're doing," says Walsh.
The Role of Diet
While workouts help tone the body, each medal winner also tells WebMD that diet plays an integral role in maintaining their muscle stamina, particularly in warm-weather competitions. Surprisingly, however, each of the Olympic athletes has a radically different way of jet-fueling her ability.