Striking the right balance between training and recovery has a major influence on your fitness status, susceptibility to injuries and performance in sport.
Competitive sport places huge demands on you when you are training and playing several times a week. High intensity sessions that extend beyond 90 minutes raise the following issues:
- Reduced intensity
- Decreased concentration
- Reduced enjoyment/increased boredom
- Increased injury risk
Recovery strategies that are encouraged to include are:
- Cool down -Immediately post event/training: light dynamic movements gradually reducing core temperature and HR then 20 mins of static stretching of whole body holding each stretch for 20-30 seconds.
- Regenerate/light active recovery -Day after event ideally use a bike or light jog for 20 mins at low intensity(65-70% HR max) and slow speed to restore energy, muscle tension, balance and range of motion.
- Ice baths/contrast water bathing – An ice bath is thought to constrict blood vessels and flush waste products, like lactic acid, out of the affected tissues. It helps to decrease metabolic activity and slow down physiological processes reducing swelling and tissue breakdown.
Do not stay in a cold or ice bath for too long, maximum ten minutes immersed in 15 degree Celsius water should be enough time to feel the benefit.
Contrast water bathing increases circulation and revitalizes the body through releasing tension and stimulating the system. Hot water stimulates blood flow to the surface of the skin while cold water stimulates blood flow to the core of the body. One minute in a cold tub (10-15 degrees Celsius) and two minutes in a hot tub (about 37-40 degrees Celsius), repeated 3 times is sufficient. This can also be replicated in a shower focussing the shower head on the lower extremities.
- Nutrition and hydration Re-hydrate with water or carbohydrate sports drink followed by a carbohydrate and protein mix ideally within 30 minutes of the end of activity.
- Compression garments -To be worn immediately once showered for 3 hours. This also helps accelerate the removal of by-products of high intensity exercise.
- Healthy lifestyle habits -Maintain a regular sleeping routine of 8-9 hours EVERY night. Sleeping is the period in which the biggest physical and psychological restoration takes place.
- Periodised training -Your training sessions should be systematically planned in advance so that you are working at the correct intensities covering all physiological parameters needed for you to achieve your goals, however you must report any feelings of fatigue and injury/illness to coaching staff.