In the previous article, there was a very in depth stretching program that can be completed on both a daily and weekly basis. But recovery is not as simple as just stretching or foam rolling. In this article, I will highlight three of the most important aspects of the recovery process so we can Neutralize and Optimize our Weaknesses.
1. Get high quality sleep, and lots of it!
One of the most underrated parts of the recovery process is sleep. Athletes, when in season, should be getting anywhere from 8-10 hours of sleep per night! And when I say sleep I don't mean just being in bed. I mean actually asleep and going through the various stages of REM and NREM. When we sleep, energy is diverted from things like digestion, and redirected to repairing the body. There is direct correlation between those who experience little tweaks or muscle soreness, and their sleeping patterns. This is not to say sleep will magically repair every sore spot or injury, but the other aspects of recovering are much less effective when sleep is neglected.
2. Proper nutrition is paramount
Proper nutrition is not a secret to performing and recovering properly. But the mistake I see many younger athletes make is not prioritizing their nutrition to improve their performance. Since the metabolism of many kids is quite high, they don't see the negative ramifications of eating McDonalds or junk food. Since there is not a physical consequence from these eating habits, they do not realize how this impacts performance. In a previous article, I explained the specifics of nutrition and those tips should be a base for anyone. My biggest tip for athletes is to not over consume proteins, consume carbohydrates around your training as a fuel source, and do not take fats out of your diet! Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats all play a massive role in athletic performance and are equally important.
3. Hydration and regulating electrolytes
Everyone knows that you're supposed to drink water before you train or compete. But many athletes don't understand the importance of hydration after competing or training. The next time you go to train, weigh yourself before and after the session. The weight you will lose is from a loss of water due to sweating. Per 1 lb of bodyweight lost, you should consume 1-2 liters or 32-64 ounces to replace those missing fluids. On average, an individual who does any form of physical activity should be consuming between 96-128 ounces of water a day. Water is very important for cellular function and muscle repair. Another important aspect of hydrating is maintaining healthy electrolyte levels. Many athletes love to chug a Gatorade or Powerade after a game. While the theory behind electrolyte replenishing is correct, Gatorade and Powerade are very high in sugar and can cause a spike in insulin release. I would suggest mixing 1 part Gatorade with 1 equal part water. This will slightly dilute the amount of sugar consumed, while still have the beneficial effect of consuming electrolytes. The best way to replenish electrolytes is through food, in the form of salts and whole foods like bananas.