Recovery Strategies to improve Your Sports Performance (Part 2- Fundamental Strategies)
In the previous article on "Recovery Strategies to improve Your Sports Performance (Part 1)", we have touched on the importance of recovery to enhance sports performance. Here, we will share with you the different Recovery Strategies.
Sports Recovery Strategies can be divided into fundamentals and advanced. Fundamental strategies would include passive rest, cool down and nutritional recovery. Advanced strategies comprise of self massage, active recovery, contrast bath, sports massage and the use of flotation tanks.
Serious athletes love to train. On the other hand, little emphasis is placed on resting. Yet passive rest, particularly sleeping, is a key and vital component of recovery. An athlete must have sufficient sleep to allow the body to repair itself and adapt to the physiological and psychological demands placed on the body during training. Continuous training over the days without sufficient rest will put the body at risk of injury and illness. It is recommended that adults should have 7-9 hours of sleep and adolescents up to 10 hours if possible.
Another underutilized, underperformed type of recovery is the cool down after a major game or intense training. It is a period of light exercises which involves mainly stretches and bringing the cardiovascular system back to at rest. It is common to see athletes hitting the shower or resting immediately after a major workout. Many do not recognize the value of a proper cool down session or simply give the excuse of lack of time or fatigue. If you are a serious athlete looking to maximize each session of workout, cooling down with stretches appropriately should be treated as important as the training itself. There are many-fold benefits of a good cool down session i.e. muscular relaxation, improved removal of lactate waste material, reduction of muscle soreness and importantly, allows your body to recover faster from the strenuous bout of training or competition.
Fuel and fluid replacement are the two most important components of nutrition recovery. The body needs adequate fuel (glycogen) and fluid (water and electrolytes comprising of sodium, potassium and chloride) to meet the high energy demands during the training session.
Athletes should start off each training session with adequate fuel and replenish during the rest intervals. This can be in the form of sports drinks and other foods that can quickly deliver glycogen to our muscles. Examples of such supplements include the simple banana, chocolate milk or the more sophisticated supplements as the SIS energy drink or bar. It is also essential to continually replenish the body fluid during training to prevent the body from being excessively dehydrated, which can be potentially dangerous as the body can overheat. Dehydration can also significantly reduce the aerobic capacity of the body and hence affect sports performance.
Adequate nutrition after training is equally important as it speeds up your body’s recovery and hence reduces fatigue and down time, thus improving performance. It has been found that the best way to speed up recovery is to take adequate supplements within 45mins after the training session ends. The recommended recovery food should contain sufficient fluid and carbohydrate to protein ratio of approximately 4:1. Carbohydrates replenish our muscle glycogen stores while protein aids in the repair of our muscles that break down during training. The above fundamental strategies are simple, easily implementable but are essential to maintaining a healthy and injury free body for training and competition. They help an athlete recover quickly from strenuous training and thus are the keys to improving sports performance.