Tournament play is always difficult: games scheduled close together, unknown opponents, little rest between games. Combine this with the stress of the end of the season and the mere fact that most likely the tournament matches will be of the “lose and go home” sort, and clear and effective techniques for physical and mental recovery after games is a requirement if athletic potential is to be maximized. The good news is that many very effective recovery techniques require a minimal amount of equipment and can be easily administered.
Recovery Nutrition and re-Hydration
Probably the easiest and most important technique for effective recovery is maintaining proper levels of carbohydrates in the body. There is a small window of opportunity in which the effect of ingested carbohydrates is maximized and utilized to the fullest extent in the body. More about this procedure can be read in the blog entry, Protocol for Post-Game Recovery. This should be the first course of action immediately after a strenuous game, especially in a tournament scenario or when their will be a limited amount of time before the next match.
The sauna is an ancient therapy used for over 2000 years to relieve stress, increase cardiovascular circulation, and cleanse the body and mind. It is also a valuable tool in the arsenal of today’s athlete to help with proper and effective recovery.
The effects of dehydration and loss of vitamins and minerals through sweat loss has to be dealt with to ensure proper recovery and adaptation. importance of replacing not only the fluids which are lost through sweating, but also by replacing the lost vitamins and minerals, by consuming mineral waters and special electrolyte drinks.
- Use when signs of excessive stress and muscular tightness are present.
- Take the sauna 1-2 hours after completion of exercise.
- Before entering the sauna it is essential to wash with soap and dry the skin.
- Sauna temperature should be set at 70°c (158 °F) and humidity 5-15% .
- Repeat 2-3 times of 10 minute duration each.
- Start on the lower benches for 2-3 minutes then gradual move to higher benches. On the higher benches the athlete is advised to lie down or sit with the legs in a horizontal position. During the time of perspiration it is important to achieve muscular and psychological relaxation.
- In the last 2-3 minutes of being in the hot sauna, it is necessary to sit with lowered legs and only after this, to leave the heat.
- Massage is given after the first and second exposures.
- Take a 3-5 minute warm shower (36-38°c, 96-100 °F) after each massage.
- The therapy ends with a 30-40 minute rest, during which time it is necessary to replace the loss of liquids and biologically active substances by using mineral waters and vitamin drinks.
Guidelines for sauna usage:
- Saunas should only be used by healthy adults (saunas are not advisable for anyone with respiratory and cardiac complaints).
- Air temperature should not exceed 90 °c (194 °F) with a relative humidity of 5-15%
- To increase the restorative effect, the athlete should not go in the sauna immediately after exercise. The best time is 1-2 hours after the completion of exercise.
- Before entering the sauna it is essential to wash with soap and dry the skin. This has the effect of creating the optimal conditions for sweat release and thermal regulation.
Contrast showers are a simple and effective tool for reducing the effects of sore muscles. The action of alternating cold water and hot water acts to stimulate blood flow and circulation, thereby flushing the lactic acid toxins from the muscles. This is especially effective if the shower head is detachable and the water can be directed to the major muscle groups (i.e. quads and hamstrings).
Shortly after exercising, alternate between 1-minute warm showers and 30 sec to 1-minute cold showers for 8 to 10 minutes. The contrast in temperature promotes blood flow and stimulates the nervous system, both of which positively influence recovery and nervous system activation.