To improve fitness and sports performance, physical conditioning is often included in athletic sports and exercise training. Physical conditioning usually has multiple components, including power, strength, speed, balance, agility, coordination, and endurance.
The first step to improving fitness or sports performance through physical conditioning is to design a program with the goals and needs of the sport in mind. Not every sport or form of exercise requires each component of physical conditioning in equal proportion, if at all. The training programs of a sprinter differ significantly from those of a long-distance runner, for example. Your physiotherapist or sports trainer will work with you to design a suitable conditioning program.
Before starting any exercise or fitness program, athletes should consult with their medical doctor or a sports physician. School or team athletes often undergo pre-participation physicals where any concerns can be addressed. Athletes recovering from surgery or an injury should ask the treating physician or physical therapist how to safely work back into sports. Anyone with an underlying medical condition should always make sure that it does not pose too high a risk with a certain exercise program.
Athletes should never avoid going to the doctor to address aches and pains for fear of being told to stop training. Letting an injury go untreated can worsen the injury or lead to more serious complications. Athletes should see a doctor whenever they have pain or another symptom with activity that is so severe they can’t exercise at all. Even when pain is more subtle or a symptom impairs performance mildly—such as knee pain when running down hills or trouble locating fastballs due to tightness in the shoulder—athletes should still consult with a sports physician.