Do you ever take the time to consider what you should do after a work out, game or practice? From personal experience, having played with many different players, I would say about 90% of them do not recover properly after a game or practice.
I'm going to offer you a few tips through this blog to optimize your recovery from a sport event or a work out.
In a nutshell training is catabolic, meaning that you are breaking tissue down causing tiny microscopical tears in the muscle fibres. Once this happens, our bodies, the amazing machines that they are, will adapt to the stress by repairing the soft tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments) to be stronger than before so it can withstand the next session more effectively. Over a period of time this is partially how we become stronger.
Brock's Three Tips to Improve Recovery
• Warm Down – Stretch / Light aerobics
Now that you are done your training session and have torn your muscles, they have to recover. Studies suggest to not train the same muscle group more than 3 times per week and not more than once within a 48-72h period. This will help prevent over-training effects. Sometimes less is more. I understand we all want our goals but we have to be patient and "love the process".
Nutrition - To optimize your recovery you should consume a serving of about 25g-30g of protein post workout (I personally like a whey shake, it’s easy and convenient). Additionally, adding a carb will help replenish glycogen stores in skeletal muscle and liver. Having a higher glycemic index carb (sugar, while starches) is not a bad idea at this time because the stronger presence of insulin will help shuttle the protein and carbs to the muscles faster and your body will also uptake the carb much better post exercise. Consuming carbs will also help replenish glycogen stores. Drink water! Most athletes I know and in general are not consuming enough water. This will have a huge impact with performance on the ice/field/court and in the gym. Lack of water consumption can lead to muscle cramps, poor muscle contraction, headaches, nausea and several other factors. Water is even more important when you have perspired a lot. For every litre of sweat we expire we need to consume 1.5 times that of water.
Tip on Tip – Be mindful of your sugar consumption before exercise or your sport, the fast acting carb can help but too much could do the opposite. Yes Gatorade has sugar but too much can actually cause dehydration in the body by bringing water into the intestines to help clear out the excess sugar content causing dehydration.
Sleep – Are you getting your 8 hours? Lack of sleep can lead to many detrimental factors to your performance. This is where your body grows and gets stronger. If you are not getting solid sleep you are not getting the most from your workout. Your diet could be on point but it will not beat lack of sleep and sleep will not beat diet either. They are both key ingredients to a healthy recovery.
Stretching / Light Aerobics - This is very important to prevent Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), blood pooling, loss of range of motion/flexibility and a decrease in performance. For an example, adding a light bike ride for 10 minutes post practice will decrease lactate acid accumulation by 46% (20 min =64% cleared). Stretching will help muscles relax and restore natural length. For hockey players who all suffer from tight hip flexors this is your prime time to get some extra length.
In conclusion, training is the process of breaking down your muscle tissue. Recovery is where the gains happen, out of the gym. You can train as hard as you want but if you are not being smart with your recovery you’re making your road much, much longer. Eat well, get to sleep and cool down!
“Think of training and recovery like tanning. You don’t get tanned/burnt while your in the sun, that comes when your done” - Unknown