What Is Recovery?
Recovery is techniques and actions taken to maximize your body’s repair. These include hydration, nutrition, posture, nutrition, ice, stretching, foam rolling, stress management, compression, and time spent standing versus sitting or lying down. Recovery is multifaceted and involves much more than just muscle repair, such as chemical and hormonal balance, nervous repair, mental state, and more.
5 Areas to Implement Recovery Practices
Sleeping 7-10 hours per night on a regular schedule has been shown to increase performance and aid in recovery, as well as significantly improve mood, with increased vigour and decreased fatigue (Mah et. al., 2011).
From an athletic perspective, reductions in performance, decision- making ability, learning and cognition can occur alongside reductions in immune function and an increased susceptibility to weight gain (Halson, 2017).
Ice, although predominantly used in injury management, in theory can also reduce the pain associated with the micro-trauma of regular exercise. Use of ice on the shoulders and knees of players is a well known practice in sports such as professional baseball or basketball, even when no acute injury has occurred (Weber, n.d.). Best practices are to ice for 15-20 minutes 1-3 times per day.
Hydrotherapy is the use of water for pain relief and treatment. It has been shown to provide relief for soreness and inflammation and give almost every system in your body a boost in recovery (Mooventhan and Nivethitha, 2014). For those who don’t have cold tubs, you can take a cold shower. Start at 30 seconds, and work your way up to 5 minutes.
Quality carbohydrates and proteins should be consumed shortly after practice, training sessions, or games to aid in the immediate restoration of muscle glycogen stores (Gonzalez et. al., 2015). The amount and ratio will be dictated by your energy needs. Some forms of good post-recovery carbohydrate and protein meals include sandwiches, pasta dishes, meals with potatoes, and protein shakes.
The system I use with my athletes is a joint mobility focused routine in the morning, and a flexibility focused routine at night and post-workout. A flexibility routine, characterized as static stretching, is an effective tool post-workout because it puts the player in a parasympathetic state, which aids in recovery.