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Train Hard and Recovery: Get the Basics Right

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Following up on our blog, A Coach's Guide to Recovery and Wellness Surveys, SPT Head of Sport Science, Joe Eisenmann gives his insights on how to get the basics right for adequate recovery:

'In the Recovery and Wellness blog, the training equation (Growth = Stress + Rest) was discussed. I tell high school athlete’s (and coaches) all the time – "all this hard work and sweat may not be fully realised unless you fuel your body with good nutrients and allow it proper rest and recover".  Indeed, nutrition and sleep are the cornerstones of recovery.

NUTRITION

In terms of nutrition, it’s all about putting the right types of foods in your body, in the right amounts, and at the right time. Highlighting each of these is beyond the scope of this blog. Instead, I’ll refer you to an excellent video series that is freely available.

However, here are a few quick points.

  • Eat whole foods. Avoid supplements. Shop around the perimeter of the grocery store.
  • Start with a good breakfast.
  • Eat every 3-4 hours.
  • Top off fuel tank with small snack prior to practice and replenish within 15-45 minutes following practice or training.
  • Hydrate throughout the day with water, juice and milk not sodas or energy drinks. Use the pee-chart (light like lemonade is preferred) to check hydration status.

SLEEP

As for sleep, it is recommended that high school-aged athletes get 8-10 hours of sleep per night.  Compared to the school year, this may not be as much of a challenge for some but it still warrants education and monitoring.

Here are a few strategies to improve sleep:

  • Establish consistent sleep and wake schedules, even on weekends
  • Create a regular, relaxing 15-30 min bedtime routine like a hot shower or listening to soothing music
  • Create a sleep-conducive bedroom that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows
  • Turn off gadgets at bedtime — avoid watching TV, using a computer or phone
  • Avoid caffeine close to bedtime and monitor caffeine intake during the day

…and you may want to re-consider those early AM workouts. A recent study showed that athletes were more likely to have sleep problems if they had wake times before 6AM (5.5x increased risk) or 6-7AM (3x increased risk) or early morning practice 4-7x/wk (2x increased risk).  Of course, bedtime also plays a factor.

Athletes need to get the cornerstones right before we even start talking about other recovery methods like hydrotherapy, compression garments, etc. Coaches and all staff members need to be part of the recovery plan with constant reminders and reinforcement of the importance of nutrition and sleep for optimal performance, health and player well-being.'

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