I went skiing yesterday, and I must admit that my quads are a bit sore today. I had been working them a bit by running and by performing skiing prep exercises, but I still awoke today with a bit of delayed onset muscle soreness.
Shouldn't my legs be prepared for skiing? I have been keeping them strong, so why would they be sore after skiing? The answer: specificity of training.
Specifiticy refers to working specific muscle groups for specific tasks. Skiing exercises help skiing. Basketball exercises like jumping and plyometrics help improve basketball performance.
The exercises I have been doing have prepared me for skiing, but the best way to specifically work those muscles is to ski. I can only do so much to mimic skiing in the clinic. I needed to actually ski to really use those muscles that are specific to skiing.
I try to keep this in mind when working with my patients in the clinic. Some of my patients want to get back to basketball, volleyball or baseball, and they need to work on the specific muscle groups in specific ways to get back to those sports. But the only way to truly mimic those sports is to actually participate in those sports. You can only do so much in the clinic.
If you have had an injury and are working with a physical therapist to return to normal function, don't be surprised if you feel a slight increase in pain or if you have slight difficulty when you return to your specific activity or sport. Working in the clinic may be useful, but the only way to challenge your body is to perform your specific activity.