The Importance of Sports Recovery


Healthy Living - November 8, 2016
JP Stowe, ATC – Sports Health

Now that the fall sports season has ended for many high school teams, the most important part begins; the recovery. Those long weeks of hitting bags, heading balls, and running long distances can take a large toll on the human body. Not only do our bodies need to recover from the bone and muscle tissue breakdown that occurs, but also from the stress and emotional ups and downs of a sports season. It can be a huge burden on a young mind.

The recommended time to rest in between sports seasons is one to two weeks. Is it adequate time to allow ALL injuries to heal? No, and sometimes those small injuries during soccer season can get worse very quickly with the transition to basketball sneakers and a hardwood floor. Fully treating and rehabilitating those small and large injuries are critical before the next season starts. For most athletes, these one to weeks off can be a nice reset button for the body and mind.

Are you the type of athlete who just can’t sit still and has to do something active? Consider the following activities that can keep you busy and actually enhance recovery.
Yoga: Through a series of poses, movements, and breaths, a well-rounded yoga practice includes dynamic flexibility training, core stabilization, strengthening and balance work. By focusing on these vital elements, yoga can help you recover faster, open up the tight areas that have hindered performance in the past, improve range of motion, and develop mental focus and concentration. The mind-body connection in yoga is essential to relax anxious and overstressed minds. Being more relaxed will also aid in athletic performance.
Swimming: Due to the weightlessness that water creates, swimming is a very low stress activity that takes pressure off of the joints of the body. While focusing on technique, rhythm, and strengthening neuromuscular connections, the swimming strokes are varied movements that require a strong mind-body connection.

Self-Myofascial Release (SMR): Utilizing different tools to alleviate the adhesions that develop within the soft tissue of the body is perhaps one of the most effective ways to recover from a demanding season. By efficiently targeting the muscle adhesions and other areas of tension in the muscles and tendons of the body, it will increase blood flow to affected areas, increase flexibility, and decrease soreness and aide in better recovery. Foam rollers, theracanes, tennis balls, and electric massagers are fine examples of SMR tools.

Light Weight Lifting: Be careful of the volume you lift during a recovery phase. These workouts should be focused on movement and technique rather than lifting heavy loads. A little light weight lifting can actually be restorative for the body, but don’t overdo it. Drop your lifting loads by 30-40 percent and complete just one to two sets of higher repetitions. Don’t walk in the gym doors more than three times per week and don’t stay for more than 30-40 minutes. It isn’t necessary.
Take advantage of the few weeks you get in between seasons as an athlete. Rather than jumping head first into the next sport, think about how you can make yourself a healthier, all-around athlete physically and mentally. Most importantly, just RELAX!