Recovery separates good from great
Elite recovery protocols are essential for elite performance in the short and long term. They also reinforce the benefits of our Warmup 2.0 protocols, ensuring your pre-game efforts do not go to waste in your post-game!
Done correctly, good recovery strategies can:
- Rapidly reverse exercise-based fluid and glycogen loss
- Enhance post training protein synthesis in muscles
- Significantly reduce post game muscle soreness
- Reverse the game based tightening up of certain joints and muscles
- Actively transition the body from its fight or flight mode into its rest and digest mode
- Set athletes up for a good nights sleep - the ultimate recovery tool!
Why we developed Recovery 2.0
Despite the obvious upsides from nailing your post-game, many junior and non professional athletes are woefully under recovered. Frequently this stems from confusion about what to prioritise, or because of the myth you need elite facilities and equipment to perform elite recovery protocols.
To simplify things we have designed a simple seven phase protocol called Recovery 2.0.
The protocol is a comprehensive science-based routine that anyone can do. It requires no equipment and costs almost nothing but some time. The protocol is also a great complement to Warmup 2.0, keeping our athletes feeling fresh and recovered so they can perform their best on the court or field.
Recovery 2.0 video instructions
Immediately below is an instructional video that gives you all the information you will need to optimise you or your team’s recovery. You can also find full written instructions on this page to teach you exactly what to do and and precisely why you are doing it.
Recovery 2.0 by phase - what, why and how
(Note: Reading our Recovery 2.0 protocol actually takes longer than doing it, so don’t be put off by the detail.)
Phase 1: Fresh blood flush
Also known as a warm down, the fresh blood flush is about making sure metabolic waste products from intense anaerobic exercise are flushed out of the muscles and fresh oxygenated blood is pumped in.
The easiest way to do this is to keep walking around for a few minutes after the end of your game or training. This can be as simple as five up-and-backs on a basketball court, or walking a lap of the footy or soccer ground. The key thing is that you are actively working the bodies natural muscular pumping system that will get fresh blood into your legs.
Once completed a great addition is simply lying on your back with your legs raised on a wall or fence for a few minutes. This helps ensure as much of the tired (for want of a better word) blood drains back into your body, encouraging even more freshly oxygenated blood can pump into the legs. It also feels really good and relaxes you!
Phase 2: Hydration and nutrition
As soon as the game stops the re-hydration and re-fuelling window starts. The best way to approach this is to kill two birds with one stone and gulp down some fluids that will also refuel you in terms of electrolytes, protein, carbs and fats!
After a lots of research and real world experience nutritionists and dieticians are now recommending flavoured milk as one of the best options to conveniently and rapidly reload your body with the nutrients it needs to get the regeneration of muscles tissues and glycogen stores going. Then thinking is that milk gives you some protein, fat, carbs and electrolytes, whilst the sugar is just what you need for a rapid post game refuel.
Another option for those who want a little more protein but don’t do well with dairy is a whey protein isolate shake or Gatorshake as these contain less lactose than milk.
Please avoid caffeine. Whatever drink you choose should contain plenty of carbs, protein and sodium but zero caffeine! Caffeine compromises sleep, acts as a diuretic and even plays a roll in blocking iron absorption so should NEVER be taken post game.
Phase 3: Restoration of tissue quality
Restoring tissue quality is one of the easiest and most important things you can do to make sure your body is good to go at your next game or training.
This means you need to get in a little dose of foam rolling and stretching. This phase is frequently neglected because rolling and stretching isn’t a that sexy.
Our rolling and stretching routine is designed to loosen off your muscles and mobilise your thoracic spine.
A superb bonus of foam rolling is helping nudge your body from the sympathetic nervous system mode (fight or fight) into the parasympathetic mode (eg the recovery oriented rest and digest mode).
Phase 4: Nervous system recovery
Everyone who has ever played sport will recognise that “tired but wired” feeling after a game or training session. Your body is spent, but your nervous system is still primed for a life and death battle, fully amped up for the next round.
Being in this fight or flight mode is extremely detrimental for all forms of recovery.
Your body will not start its natural recovery processes until it thinks the threat has passed. Without active intervention, coming down from this adrenalised state can take several hours, interfering with digesting your food and limit you chance of getting a great night’s sleep. This is especially important for those who have trainings and games in the evening.
Deep controlled belly or nasal breathing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to rapidly reset your body from sympathetic to parasympathetic nervous system mode.
These days breath work is very fashionable, and there are about a million different ways to do it.
Find a position and place you can relax in. (Lying on your back is great but not always practical so settle for sitting if you have to.)
- Slowly breathe in through your nose (ideally driving the inhalation via a nice belly expansion rather than rib breath)
- Hold on the inhale for 2 to 4 seconds
- Slowly breath out through the nose and then pause fully exhaled for 2-4 seconds.
- Repeat for 3 to 5 minutes (really anything is better than nothing though so even a minute is still beneficial.
- Some people can get dizzy or queasy from breathing too deeply. Remember to just keep it easy. This is not a workout!
- Always sit for a minute before you stand after this work as it is very very common people to get a bit fainty if they go straight from lying breath work into standing. This applies especially for tall people whose blood has a lot further to go than the rest of us!
Phase 5: Simple sugar snack
This isn’t so much a phase as a step. Get some rapidly digestible sugars into your system to re fill your muscles and liver with glycogen (the petrol of our muscles).
For most people a handful of lolly snakes or some other low fibre and easy to break down carbs works great. My favourite is salt and vinegar rice cakes as they also include a nice little dose of sodium.
Phase 6: Post game meal
Nailing your post game meal is critical for both replenishment of your body’s fuel stores and setting you up for a great nights sleep.
Ideally this meal should be healthy, high in protein and carbs, and have a moderate amount of fat.
Importantly it should also cause zero bloating or gastrointestinal distress as this will interfere with your sleep.
Some great options are a stir-fry with rice, a steak with potatoes and veggies, or a pasta with a good protein source. There is a slight advantage to red meat options as you also get some iron into your system.
Phase 7: Sleep
Getting great sleep is such a huge topic our best advice boils down to tips below.
- Avoid stupid stuff - don’t have a Pepsi or watch a horror movie just before bed!
- Get off your bloody phone. Seriously get off it. We try (with mixed success) for no phones after dinner in our house and it always results in better sleep.
- Have a hot shower or bath. The vasodilation (blood vessels opening up) means you will cool down faster, helping you fall into deeper sleep state.
- Make sure your bedroom is cool and dark. Around 17-18°C and as dark as possible is ideal.
- Read some fiction before bed - it can do wonders to take your mind off the game.
- (Bonus: some people find journaling your thoughts and feelings helps get post-game replaying out of your head).
Once you have the habits down, it can be as simple as:
- a few walking up-and-backs,
- gulping down some flavoured milk,
- two minutes of breathing,
- a quick roll and stretch,
- some lollies in the car,
- followed by a nice hot shower, dinner, and a great night’s sleep.
Combine these practices with our Warmup 2.0 for a month. I guarantee you will be amazed by how much better you recover, play, develop new skills, and feel generally.
At Core Advantage we work with teams to help them implement high performance tailored for their club.
Get in touch with us via our Contact page if you could use some help!