Fall sports are starting up which means grueling practices in the heat, double sessions, waking up early, and feeling like you were run over by a train. You know it is all worth it in the end for your soul and most importantly, for your team. Well, what can you do to make yourself feel better and give yourself the ability to perform at high-level day in and day out?
There are some methods you can put in your daily routine to help recover from the intense practices you are facing. But, before I get into some methods that are effective, you must not forget about the most important ones:
-Hydration (to read more about how much water you should consume, click here Drink Your Way To Health)
These three (3) are the most important recovery methods and yet probably the most overlooked. By eating, sleeping, and drinking you will combat a lot of the issues that come with high intense practice or games. I know these aren’t exactly the cool ones, but they are certainly the most important. We rank the importance by what we need to survive. You can’t survive without food, water, or sleep, but you can survive without the methods I am going to give you. Make sure you are taking care of yourself by doing the three survival recovery methods.
Yes, the next few methods are not a necessity to survive, but they will work and give you some options to feeling and moving better.
The first one is Foam Roll. If you don’t have a foam roller, go buy one. If you can’t afford one, then you can roll on a basketball, medicine ball, etc. Foam rolling is similar to a deep tissue massage but it is self-regulated. It is uncomfortable and it should be. Some call it “mashing” and that is exactly the mindset you should have when you are doing it.
IT Band (side of leg)
Quads (front of legs)
Spend approximately 30-45 seconds on each area; however, if one particular area is more sore or feels more intense, spend some more time on it. It hurts, but you will feel great.
The next method is Exercise. I know, I know; more exercise is the last thing you want to hear. We have great success with using recovery workouts. You simply do this by using light weights to perform a workout routine, or what we like to do is use mobility type of exercises. These workouts should be very low intensity. You can do things such as body weight movements, animal crawls, dynamic skipping movements, or even tempo running. Remember to keep them low intensity and short in duration, approximately 30 minutes seem to work best for us.
Another method is an Ice Bath. These are great for making you feel better; however, they are not an easy thing to do. It is not easy submerging yourself into ice cold water. If you are going to do this, there are a few things that you must know and the guidelines that we offer:
-the temperature of the water should be no less than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Try keeping it somewhere between 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit.
-in the beginning, try doing 6-8 minutes in the tub. Once you get more experienced with ice baths you may do up to 10 minutes, but no longer.
You can fill your tub with ice and cold water and get it to the desired temperature. All you need is shorts, t-shirt and courage to climb in. Set a timer and try to relax and just keep telling yourself it will be worth it.
This next one is probably my favorite and one that I recommend because of how easily it can implemented. It is a Contrast Shower.
1) Get in a Hot Shower for 3 Minutes.
2) At the 3 minute mark, step out of the shower and towel off.
3) Now turn the water Cold for 1 minute.
4) At the 1 minute mark, get out of the shower and towel off.
Repeat this method for 3-5 Rounds.
A couple things to note with this process: There is research out there about the exact temperatures that the water should be, but we have played with it and found the simplest and very effective way is to just turn it as hot as you can stand it and as cold as you can handle it. You will be able to go hotter and colder for each round. Also, we really like the “towel off” method between each temperature change. Just standing in the shower and changing the water doesn’t have the same effect. Always end with the Cold Cycle. This will leave you feeling invigorated.
The Contrast Shower Method will help relieve muscle soreness, but most importantly recover your CNS system.
These are all great methods to help you feel better and I am not here to argue which one works the best. We use them all and with great success with our athletes. I will tell you to try them all and see which one works the best for you. Make sure you keep the variety though. Like everything else, if we use a particular method too much, we adapt and become somewhat desensitized from it and the benefits regress. However, I do recommend foam rolling somewhat regularly.
I do want to leave you on this note: If you combine some of these methods with eating, hydration, and getting the proper amount of sleep, 7-8 hours, you will recover much faster. Being recovered will help reduce the risk of injury, feel better, and allow you to perform at a high level. You need to practice hard, but recover harder.