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This article will discuss the 7 must have recovery tools any recreational sporting person must have if involved in sport or activity

As someone who may be involved in recreational sport, it is essential that you treat your body with the right care between sessions. This will ensure you can recovery enough to be able to train effectively the next time.

Recovery methods does not have to be over complicated and long winded. You don’t have to spend your winter nights in an ice bath…unless you love doing that sort of stuff. Even choosing 1-2 of these techniques per week can help you with the following

  • Reduced muscle soreness
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved performance and energy on the days of training
  • Reduced injury risk

In no particular order, here are 7 simple recovery methods you could adopt between training sessions.

# 1 – Parasympathetic Breathing

What is it?

Parasympathetic breathing involves deep and relaxed breathing practices to help activate the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is involved in the rest and digest portion of our nervous system. Once activated you will see:

  • Reductions in blood pressure and heart rate
  • Reductions in breathing rate
  • Reductions in cardiac output
  • Allows body to reduce tension in neck and shoulders and can prepare the body for sleep

How to do it?

  • Lye on your back with your knees bent, you can place a pillow under your knee for support if you wish.
  • Think about relaxing your chest and neck muscles
  • Think about breathing in so that you expand your rib cage in all directions – think about it expanding outwards and into the ground
  • Focus on inhaling at a steady pace and exhaling at a lower pace
  • Continue for 5 minutes.

# 2 – Low Load, Low Rep Workout

What is it?

This type of workout still allows the body to move however the workout needs to be light and with low load. What is the point in doing this type of workout? The benefits include

  • Help facilitate muscular and nervous system recovery
  • Reduce muscle stiffness and soreness
  • Allows you to work on more skill based movements which are also essential within your chosen sport of activity
  • Help reinforce good technique and activation patterns
  • Allows you to work on active mobility and flexibility within a workout

How to do it?

  • Choose a series of 3-9 exercises and perform in a circuit type manner
  • For example as a soccer player you may choose the following: Low box jumps, agility ladder, 40m run through, KB Swing, traveling lunge and perform 10 repetitions of each with a 60 second rest between sets.
  • Perform each exercise at a low speed and with precise and accurate movements to work on technique.

# 3 – Lumbopelvic Stability and Core Strengthening

What is it?

  • Lumbopelvic stability and core strengthening refers to the muscles which connect to the lumbar and pelvic region as well as the spine.
  • Lumbopelvic stability is an important baseline skill to learn as it can transfer over to positions and techniques uses in daily activities and sporting positions.
  • Understanding and applying these exercises can form the fundamental basis of reducing injury risk while performing sports.

How to do it?

  • Some exercises to include in your routine can include
    • Single leg bridges
    • Lumbopelvic tilts in 4 point and crook lying
    • Hip clams

# 4 – Contrast Therapy

What is it?

  • Contrast therapy is when you alternate between a cold body of water to a hot/ warm body of water
  • Doing this post exercise is said to do the following things
    • Reduce muscle soreness and enhance recovery
    • Reduce inflammation and muscle damage
    • Reduce whole body temperature which can then help aid in sleep
    • Help flush out metabolic waste products produced from exercise
    • Enhanced feeling of subjective well being from athletes

How to do it?

  • The most common methods involve 1 minute in a cold tub 10-15 degrees and 2 minutes in a hot tub 37-40 degrees repeated about 3 times
  • It is recommended to finish the cycle on a cold bath
  • If you don’t have access to a hot and cold bath you could try it in the shower or simple try for a cold bath for 7-10 minutes!

# 5 – Sleep

What is it?

  • The simplest methods are usually the most effective. Sleep is a very important and under rated methods for recovery.
  • Better quality of sleep and a consistent sleep routine can help enhance muscle recovery, reaction time and mental alertness
  • Helps reduce resting heart rate, muscle soreness and detoxification

How to do it?

  • Here are 10 essential tips to getting a better night sleep
    • Have a consistent sleep and wake cycle – always go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time
    • Switch off all electronics 90 minutes before you plan to go to sleep – This includes T.V’s, laptops, phones, bright lights in hallway and bedroom
    • Get some sunlight outdoors early in the morning, between 6:00am – 8:30am – This helps to set the internal body clock
    • Reduce caffeine intake and do not consume it past 12:00pm
    • Have a warm shower or bath 45 minutes before bed time
    • Purchase a good quality magnesium spray and apply it to your skin before bed time
    • Ensure your bedroom is as dark as possible while you sleep – no bright lights, no TV’s or laptops and wear a face mask
    • Ensure your diet has minimal processed foods including processed sugar
    • Remove all work books, clutter and all work related items from the bedroom. It should feel like a bedroom, not like an office
    • Get some essential oils and let off in a water diffuser before bed time

# 6 – Fasted Morning Walk

What is it?

  • A fasted morning walk involves going for a brisk walk before eating breakfast. You would just consume water before and during the walk.
  • Doing so will allow you to gain morning sunlight which can help in a better night sleep for the upcoming night
  • Walking will help improve blood flow to muscles and help with detoxification of the body
  • Helps switch the body to fat burning

How to do it?

  • Go for a morning walk between the hours of 6:00am – 8:30am for at least 30 minutes.
  • Consume 1 litre of water before and after your walk
  • Use the opportunity to relax, don’t think of it like exercise

# 7 – Active Mobility Session

What is it?

  • Active mobility is important to help improve muscle and joint range of motion and can transfer to functional positions
  • Improves muscle stiffness and flexibility
  • Improves technique and muscle activation

How to do it?

  • Choose a series of 3-4 active mobility exercises and continue for 10-15 minutes.
  • Some exercises may involve
    • Lunge complex with thoracic mobility
    • Downward dogs
    • Leg swings
    • Foam rolling upper back and lower back

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