The elusive concept of structural health remains a mystery for many in the fitness industry, and those individuals scour the web in hopes of locating the right information to alleviate their stress, worry, and specific injury or ailment. The focus should always be to simplify everything when dealing with complicated matters such as injury prevention and treatment. Outside of working with your assigned medical practitioner, and following his or her specific recommendations, the next best thing you can do to always safeguard against future injury, and expedite the healing process is to practice regular customized athletic training, which consists of strength and conditioning, and modified speed, agility, and power work if you aren’t competing or you are classified as non-athlete.
Why agility makes your body structure healthier in the short and long-term
The most obvious reason for agility (multi-directional training) offers you power in preventing or treating the injury is because it satisfies “The Law of Specificity” in training science. Meaning that you are training precisely how your body did or could become injured so that you are better physically and mentally prepared to handle the workload or stress when the time arrives in your specific environment. (1) You have to consider that science has accurately identified and it’s no mystery at this point anymore that most injuries, especially in athletics, tend to occur with rotational motion as your body decelerating. Now taking this simple information at hand, just look at the nature of most agility exercises. What you’ll immediately notice is that they fit the script for this injury criteria. So it’s a catch-22 for most people at this point. Understandably, they are unfamiliar with or fear something such as agility training, which is the exact thing that does or could in fact cause an injury, but at the same time is the primary means of movement training to prevent injury as well. The issue then becomes after you have embraced the efficacy of agility training into your program, how do you prescribe it for yourself or others? Here is a list of suggestions to program for agility to help keep you healthy, or make you even healthier, all while elevating all other areas of performance in the process.
Agility programming checklist:
- Make sure to perform a proper 5-6 phase warm-up and preparation system before attempting to perform any level of agility or change of direction exercise
- It’s a good idea to complete a total body strength training routine before or in conjunction with your agility training from both a performance and injury prevention standpoint. The strength developed in the weight room will prime coordination levels in the muscles and nervous system, and increase proper absorption and loading of the muscle tissue during agility work along with improving tissue density.
- When in doubt begin with basic agility drills that are much less technical, slower, and easier to perform until you feel comfortable with more progressions
- Make sure to only train agility a maximum of 3 times per week, including sport, so that you allow proper recovery, motor learning, and recovery to occur. Low volumes of speed and agility work will always reign supreme in fostering adaptations or development in the body, with the exception being specialized training phases reserved for elite performers at specific times of the training year.
1‐Clark, M, NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, Baltimore, MD, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins: 2008.