This is a guest post by Jono Wong. Thanks Jono!
Some of you might know me, and some might not. I am an older tricker that should probably stay in the history books, but I've decided to make a comeback into the art form as a wiser and more educated human.
I took a few years off from tricking consistently, as I was establishing myself in both chiropractic work and in the film industry doing stunt work. But I realised that by not tricking, I was getting moody, depressed, and frustrated at small things all the time. I missed the feeling of complex movements against gravity, and the feeling of that perfect moment when you are weightless. So, I've started training again.
But this time I’m a little older and wiser, and I’ve realised something.
Tricking is very destructive to your body without the correct countermeasures in place. Talk to any seasoned tricker, and the story is the same: "I trained, I hurt, I injured, I rehabbed, and I started training again… but approached training a little differently.”
That’s what happened to me, and now I have 4 lifestyle fields that I work on outside of the gym in order to prolong my ability to trick, and also become a well-balanced athlete. With this long-winded monologue from a wise old man (lol), hopefully you’ll be inspired to appreciate your body a bit more and give it the respect it deserves, helping you prolong your time in this movement form and stay less injured!
1) Strength Training
A stronger body gets more hops, lands softer, and makes transitions easier. Technique is important, but good technique with a weak body is just asking for an accident when you fail. So getting stronger is a big part of decreasing my tricking injuries, especially for my lower back and ankles, which have taken a beating over the years. Calisthenics is something that interests me, as I don't need to go to the gym—I can just train in my backyard or in the house. I have a bar set up in between some trees that I can do a variety of pullups on, a set of gymnastics rings for muscle-ups and levers, a set of bars for dips, and a vertical pole to work on flag and other pole tricks. I also find some flat space to do pushups, practice handstands, and do other core work such as supermans, dish rocks, and side holds. Leg work revolves around jumping and landing drills, both on two feet and just one to condition for tricking.
2) Flexibility Training
Flexibility training is not just stretching before sessions—it’s stretching after and in between sessions, too. Flexibility is super important to make your kicks and shapes more aesthetically pleasing, but it also stops your body from becoming a tight wad of muscle tension, ready to explode at any time.
Flexibility training is exactly like any other sort of muscle training, with dedicated time slots to focus on stretching most muscle groups for 1-3 minutes each, while breathing deeply and slowly through your diaphragm to encourage relaxation. It’s super relaxing, and afterwards I feel like I'm high on drugs from my own endorphin release.
The videos here and here are similar to what I do for legs, but for the rest of the body, I just use gymnastics and yoga positions. It’s all easy to do while watching your favourite anime or gaming it up. It might take heaps of time, but time spent recovering from an injury—and not tricking—is always significantly longer!
I've had my fair share of KFC, McD's, and Domino’s Pizza, which I do actually miss taste-wise… But my body doesn't miss the food coma and heavy feeling post-fast food gorge. Whether it's fast, processed, or packaged foods, when the natural ingredients move further and further away from what they originally were, they lose nutrient content. If you think of your body as a machine, better-quality fuel is going to improve performance, right? I've always been interested in vegan and plant-based athletes, and I wanted to give it a go myself. So I’ve been watching a lot of vegan cooking videos and vegan athletes on YouTube, and my main inspiration comes from Derek Simnett, a certified nutritionist from Canada. He is far from the stereotypical pale, skinny, Negative Nancy-type vegan that we all have in our minds’ eye. He is a super positive, active, adventure-loving, calisthenics-based body builder with muscles to spare, so I’m following in his footsteps and seeing what happens!
4) Rehabilitation and Preventative Rehabilitation
I saved rehab and prehab till last, but it’s the most vital element in a tricker's downtime. Foam rolling, massage balls, Thera Cane, and functional exercises are so important to me this time around, as they should be for all trickers. Just thinking, "It will be alright" or "It will just go away" is a crock—rehab and prehab keep my spine from snapping, my ankles from rolling, my rotator cuffs from tearing, and my ACLs in one piece. There is so much information on YouTube and the web for self-treatment and body improvement that it would be a shame to not spend some time on your most precious commodity—your body!
Wise up my fellow ninjas, and start taking care of yourself! Eat better, listen to your body, and ask yourself, “What can I do right now to extend my tricking career?”
✌️ Piisu ✌️
Featured image courtesy Bonnie Cee