Let’s face it. Athlete to athlete, we know you go “all in” every time you hit the court, the gym, or the field. We know because we were just like you. We were in your shoes – laying it all on the line every time we stepped over the line. But after you’ve gone all-in, you have to recoup your losses. That’s where recovery comes in.
As an athlete, recovery is just as important as training. It enables you to maximize your training. Without it, you can’t possibly get the most out of the hours you spend in the gym, in the weight room, or on the field.
What is recovery?
Recovery is an active process where you, as an athlete, make an effort to restore your body physically, mentally, and emotionally so you’re ready for your next practice, training session, or performance. Recovery is often thought of as a way to get rid of soreness and fatigue, or as therapy for an injury. While that is true, recovery doesn’t just serve to repair our muscles, tendons, ligaments and other soft tissue structures.
Recovery includes other systems of the body, such as our endocrine system, which is responsible for releasing hormones, and our neurological system, which is responsible for signaling our muscles to move in the first place. All of these systems work together to help us perform on the playing field, and all of them need attention and restoration.
Sleep and nutrition. Every athlete should be doing at least two things to recover physically: sleeping at least 7-9 hours per night, and fueling their body with proper nutrition. In addition to those things, making an effort to recover physically might mean getting a massage, foam rolling, stretching, taking an ice bath, applying heat and/or compression, performing mobility drills, or taking part in active recovery, like walking, bike riding, or yoga.
Physical recovery doesn’t have to be all of these things. It should be what works for you. Try different strategies. See what you like and don’t like, what makes you feel better and what doesn’t make much of a difference.
Mental and Emotional Recovery
As Yogi Berra once said, “Ninety percent of the game is half mental.” Mental and emotional recovery often get the short end of the stick, but they can be the difference between a game winning shot… or not. Mental and emotional recovery are extremely important to your state of mind, how you feel about yourself, and as a result, how you compete.
Some easy ways to begin working on your mental and emotional recovery include positive self-talk, meditating, journaling, picking up a hobby that has nothing to do with sport, and spending time with friends and family. Mental and emotional recovery should leave you feeling rejuvenated and ready.
Assess your recovery.
Ask yourself the following questions and record your answers:
What do I currently do on a regular basis to recover physically? Mentally? Emotionally?
What aspect of recovery do I leave out most often?
Improving upon which aspect of recovery would help me the most?
If you don’t know where to start, it’s okay! Begin by choosing one aspect of recovery, (physical, mental, or emotional), and one realistic means of adding this type of recovery to your routine. For example, if you struggle with taking time to recover physically, commit to foam rolling for 5 minutes per day on 5 or more days of the week.
No matter what you choose, make sure to define exactly what it is you intend to add to your routine so you can be sure you have accomplished your goal. Recovery won’t just enable you to be a healthier, happier, higher-performing athlete, it will help you be a healthier, happier and higher-performing person.
*Phase 1, 2, and 3 of the Spring Strength and Condition Program are on TriadXP.com. These workouts are FREE to Central Ohio High School students. The program is designed by the athletic performance professionals from the OSU Wexner Medical Center and Bo Jackson Elite Sports. You can register and get the workouts here: https://triadxp.com/pages/bo-jackson-registration