by Katie Weisenberger, DPT, CSCS, SCS
A key part of staying on the field and performing optimally is making sure you’re fueling your body correctly and allowing for adequate recovery. Recovery allows the body time to repair and rebuild between workouts and adapt to the stresses the body endures during workouts. This is especially true for high level, elite athletes, as the demands they put on their bodies are extremely high.
Recovery can come in many forms, both physically and psychologically. These include, but are definitely not limited to, adequate sleep, nutrition, massage, cryotherapy (ice) and recovery tools such as percussion massage and compression boots. Let’s dive a little deeper into a few of these recovery strategies to see how they can help and why they’re important.
One of the easiest ways to elevate your game is to get quality sleep every night. Sleep has traditionally been under-prioritized among athletes. Elite athletes often have a very difficult time getting adequate sleep due to busy training schedules, frequent travel and jet-lag between time zones. Getting quality sleep, however, may be one of the most important things an athlete can do. Sleep allows the body time to recover, repair and replenish stores that were depleted after an intense workout. Most people require 7-9 hours of sleep per night, but just as an athlete requires more calories due to high energy expenditure, they may also require more sleep than the average adult. As with everything, sleep is very individual, so try getting different amounts of sleep to determine what your body needs to perform at its highest potential! Here are some tips to getting more quality sleep:
- Set your bedroom temperature to 69 degrees
- Try blackout curtains or a sleeping mask to darken your room
- Avoid eating a large meal just before bedtime
- Avoid exercising right before going to bed
As recovery tools, such as percussion massage (ie. Hypervolt, Theragun) or compression boots (ie. Normatec boots) become more popular, more people have questions about their roles and uses in recovery.
There are several theories for how percussion massage can aid in recovery. One proposed benefit is that it can reduce the onset of DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness. You’ve probably noticed that ~24-48 hours after an intense workout, your body feels an intense soreness – this is referred to as “DOMS.” Percussion massage may provide an added benefit in mitigating the effects of DOMS to help your body recover faster. Another proposal is that percussion massage alleviates pain through the gate control theory. Remember the last time you hit your head on a cabinet door and instinctively applied pressure to your head to make the pain go away? This is an example of gate control theory. The pressure from your hand is “overriding” the pain that your head just experienced, making it feel better. In the same way, the vibration from the massage gun is alleviating the pain sensation you are experiencing, allowing for better recovery. Either way, percussion massage can be an easy way to help your muscles recover and prepare your body for the next workout.
The main benefit of compression boots is to speed up the body’s natural recovery process. Compression boots, such as Normatec boots, may help in this process by removing waste products, such as lactic acid, from your muscles and improving blood flow. Compression boots may also improve oxygenation and reduce inflammation in your muscles. Basically, compression boots provide the benefits of an active recovery, without actually having to do the “active” part.
Reach out if you’d like to learn more about the ways Evolution Physical Therapy can assist in your recovery, or to book an appointment for a consultation or a recovery package. We’d love to hear from you!