Recovery & injury management with Ninja Warrior legend Zak Stolz
Ninja Warrior was designed to be the toughest obstacle course on the planet and quickly grew into a worldwide phenomenon and become an entire sport. The Australian Ninja Warrior television series captivated audiences, showcasing the incredible endurance and strength of athletes as they tackle a mind-blowingly extreme obstacle course.
Ninja Warrior training is not for the faint hearted, it takes incredible physical and mental stamina to reach the dizziness heights of success in the sport.
Zak Stolz is no stranger to the fierce intensity of training and recovery. The renowned winner of back to back Australian Ninja Warrior titles shares his top tips and insights on how to recover after an intense workout or training session.
What does your recovery routine look like? How does it help you perform at your best?
My recovery routine typically consists of an active cool down, followed by either heat or cold treatment depending on how my body feels and what it requires! Only recently have I had to really start focussing on recovery, previously I’d been injury free but as the years go on I find my body more and more prone to injury!
What injuries have you had and how have you managed them?
Lately I’ve had injuries galore! You may have noticed my knee strapping last year on season 6 Ninja Warrior, that was for a tear in my left medial meniscus… prior to that I ruptured my ankle capsule and tore several ligaments in a big ankle twist, as well as connective tissue across my lower back in a separate incident!
To manage them I’ve been extremely cautious to first, not aggravate them and ice as necessary, followed by heat treatment to help bump up the circulation (especially the ankle). Basically taking time to rest, repair and rehabilitate.
Have you used cold therapy for post training and/or injury recovery? If so, how did it benefit your recovery?
I frequently use cold therapy post training! I find while it may be uncomfortable at the time, I’m able to perform at my best faster and with less risk as compared to not using it.
Was there a particular turning point that accelerated your ninja career? Can you tell us about it?
The major turning point in my ninja career was season 4, with COVID just coming up it altered the ninja experience in a way that made it easier for me to break down the barriers caused by nerves (reduced crowds will do that). Ever since then I’ve been very happy and relatively nerves free executing runs, even with a large crowd. I feel I just needed that one breakthrough!!
What sets you apart from the average gym goer?
For me, the biggest difference I see between myself and your average gym goer is the “why?”. I’m frequently training solely for fun and to see my friends whilst being physically active as well as hard sessions of course. I believe it’s the attitude that comes from a more enjoyment based viewpoint that separates me from most people and even most ninjas!
Copyright: Live Breathe Ride, 2020
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About the Author:
Gday, I’m Zak Stolz (Zak Attack). A 23 year old gymnastics coach and science student from the Mornington Peninsula, known primarily for my performances on Australian Ninja Warrior. I’m currently the only person in ninja warrior history to have back-to-back titles and am a world record holder for the furthest shelf grab lache (just shy of 5m). Lately, I’ve been smashed by injury after injury and it’s made me incredibly conscious of my warm-up and recovery routines, and now that I know what to do, I’ll never go back to the way I used to compete!!