Our favorite Recovery Techniques for Athletes!

The foundation on which all success is built for any athlete, is strong muscles. Without them, it is impossible for athletes to achieve the highest level of performance in their chosen Sport.

One of the biggest obstacles to improving strength and increasing athletic performance is muscle recovery, the process in which muscles receive nutrients and repair themselves after intense use. While some recovery time will always be necessary for human muscles, there are a few muscle recovery techniques for athletes that are designed to minimize the amount of downtime that the muscles require. This means that an athlete has more time to spend improving their skills at their chosen sport.

Stretching Intensity

Stretching is among the best muscle recovery techniques because it improves the flow of blood to the muscles that are being stretched. In this way, it speeds up the recovery process by allowing the muscles to more readily receive the nutrients they need.

Both static and dynamic stretching are beneficial!

Get Enough Rest

Although many competitive athletes aren’t fond of the idea of limiting their activity, adequately resting muscles that are being worked out is one of the most critical muscle recovery techniques for athletes. When the body is asleep, it goes through several important processes that repair muscle tissue and restores balance to the rest of the body. Sleep is especially important for those athletes who want to improve their muscle mass; some medical specialists believe that a lack of sleep can actually contribute to the loss of muscle mass, based on the hormonal changes that occur while a person is asleep.

Even the most elite athletes in the world do not neglect their sleep. Tennis legend Roger Federer is known to sleep between ten and twelve hours a night, as does basketball star LeBron James. In late 2014 it was reported that NFL quarterback Tom Brady, goes to bed at 8:30 PM each night to make sure he can get enough sleep to wake up early and work on his skills.

Improving Blood Flow

The nutrients contained in the body’s blood are important because they eventually get sent to muscles that are recovering, allowing them to begin the process of restoring muscle fibers to make them stronger than they were before. Without sufficient blood flow, muscles will not receive these important building blocks, ultimately limiting their growth. Some of the muscle recovery techniques for athletes that can help contribute to blood flow include stretching and maintaining a diet of healthy foods that do not contribute to blocked arteries or veins.

Getting a Massage

Many athletes get massages frequently to alleviate tense muscles, so their bodies feel better and don’t give them as much pain. Receiving a massage can be one of the best muscle recovery techniques for athletes because it helps make the biological process of muscle recovery more efficient. In a post on The New York Times’ blog entitled Well, scientific research showed that people who received a massage had lower levels of cytokines, a compound that causes inflammation, and higher levels of mitochondria activity, which helps convert glucose into the energy that is important for cell repair.

Remember, if you are an athlete looking for recovery through massage, you don’t need to go to a professional each and every time. Learning a few different massage techniques and applying them yourself after a workout or competition can help you get many of the great benefits of massage without having to make an appointment with a massage therapist. There are plenty of massage products on the market as well, which are designed to work specific areas.

Drinking Enough Water

Water is important for many of our bodily functions; it is no wonder, when you consider that most scientists agree that the average adult human body is 55 to 60% water. While most athletes already know that staying hydrated is important during performance or training sessions, some may forget that drinking water is one of the best muscle recovery techniques for athletes today. This is because drinking water helps fill up the cells and prevent them from falling victim to protein synthesis. Hydration is also important for facilitating digestion, so that the body can receive all of the nutrients that are needed for proper recovery. Water helps contribute to a healthy digestive process.

The standard suggestion for water consumption each day is 64 ounces or about half a gallon. However, some athletes may need to drink more than that to be adequately hydrated. A good tip for drinking enough water each day is to take a reusable water bottle with you to work or school so that you can space out your water drinking and maintain hydration throughout the day. Use your urine as an indicator of hydration… if its clear then you’re getting enough but if its yellow or dark you need to step it up!

Consuming Coconut Products

Why are coconuts considered valuable to the muscle recovery process? There are a few common reasons why coconut-based drinks and foods have become so popular with today’s athletic community. First, coconut products contain compounds known as medium-chain triglycerides, which are fats that the body can absorb into the bloodstream more easily than other types. This makes it an ideal form of fuel for the muscle recovery process.

Coconut water is becoming a popular alternative to traditional sports drinks for athletes, because of its effectiveness at restoring hydration after a workout. Coconut water contains electrolytes and plenty of potassium, which means that it is one of the best muscle recovery techniques for athletes who want to reduce their downtime between workouts. Many athletes have decided to stop drinking the traditional sports drinks on the market in favor of coconut-based juices and water drinks.

Rolling Your Muscles

Rolling your muscles is a great way to release tension in your body by removing knots in areas like the legs, arms, and sides. This can be done with a specialized foam roller, a medicine ball, or other similar devices that are meant to move easily along the muscles. There are different kinds of techniques employed for muscle rolling depending on the areas and specific muscles that need to be rolled.

When you roll your muscles, it results in better flexibility and less painful movement of the muscles in question, because you break up tightness and knots that cause stiffness and pain. Muscle rolling is one of the great muscle recovery techniques for athletes because it helps restore range of motion and eliminate the tightness and pain that often comes with inflammation as a result of intense competitions or training sessions. Muscle rolling is also a good recovery technique because it gives you more control over the specific areas that you target for recovery, which can provide highly effective relief.

Offseason Hand Eye Training

In every sport, there is some sort of task that an athlete must complete that requires some sort of hand eye coordination. Hand eye coordination is a skill that some people are better at than most, but at the same time that skill can definitely be trained to a higher level. Take a look at the “5 Major Sports North America Sports” Football, Basketball, Hockey, Soccer and Baseball. All these sport require an elite level of hand-eye coordination to either score in that sport, or to play defence in that sport! In this blog I’m going to give you a few cool ways to train hand eye to help with your ability to see and react to whatever is happening on the field or court in your sport!

Hand Eye coordination in athletes

Left Hand Training

This one is pretty straight forward! Most people have one dominate hand. For me I’m right handed and during the early part of my career I really struggle with my left hand. As a center in football I snapped with my right so I had to get better with my left hand as it was my first line of defence. So I started doing everything I could with my left hand; writing, opening jars and doors playing catch, before I knew it I had my left hand caught up with my right. Here the deal though, it has to be a constant effort. You cannot just do this for 2 months and have a great “offhand” it’s something that you must continually train or you will lose this skill you have gained!

One Handed Catch Training

Again another very straight forward drill, but extremely effective! Have someone throw you a tennis ball and catch it will one hand. The key to making this drill work best is to have the throw come at you on different angle, don’t just have the ball come straight at you as this isn’t realistic! This drill is really good for football and baseball guys. They have to make one handed catches all the time, so they should be constantly training that skill. One cool little way to make this drill harder is have the player who is catching the tennis ball slowly jog to the person who is throwing it; this will add different levels of depth perception that will help the hand eye!

Reaction Ball Drill

This is by far my favourite hand eye drill that I have in my tool box! There are two reasons why! Number 1; you can do this drill by yourself and number 2 the ball makes you react and move your feet instead of just standing in one place or jogging to a spot! Here is the drill; stand about five years away from the wall and throw the ball on a one hop at the wall and react and go catch it before the ball hits the ground! Seems simple right!!! It is but the great part is no two reps will be the same! The ball will always jump somewhere different! Below is a picture of the ball that I have, it’s a Nike product I used it for a long time and saw great results!

Off season is the time to get better! Come into the gym today to see how we can help you prepare for next season!!

Why Flashy Footwork, Agility Ladders, and Sprint Mechanic Drills are MOSTLY A Waste of Time

One of the most common pieces of equipment sport coaches and strength and conditioning coaches love to use are agility ladders… but why? Mostly people love to use them because they are very portable (can take to practice, use on the field), easy to set up and requires little instruction to demonstrate patterns for athletes to go through. But is this a reason for using them?

            While agility ladders and footwork drills do have their place for building general coordination and foot speed in younger athletes (or as part of a warm-up), for developing athletic multi-planar speed and power, they are largely a waste of time and our efforts can be better spent elsewhere. I would even argue for soccer (the sport where foot speed is probably the most important) they are largely a waste of time as through practice for their sport they will build these foot speed skills that are more specific to their sport and learning agility ladder patterns is not going to improve this further.

            I would even go on to say a lot of drills commonly used by coaches that work on foot speed are also a waste of time. If we are wanting our athletes to get faster, the number one thing that can be done do to improve their speed is to have them run FAST!!! The more practice our athletes get at accelerating, changing direction, and reaching and maintaining maximal velocity the better off they will be.

            Another common thing I see in coaching is to spend hours on sprint mechanics and track and field type drills. While I believe these have their place (in warm-up; extra work sessions) we must remember that our field sport athletes are NOT sprinters. While we can use these drills to work on some of their MAJOR deficiencies in sprinting form, we must remember that some of the running styles and techniques develop from their sport and help them to perform at their best.  

            While there are techniques we can use when getting our athletes to run fast such as resisted sprinting, sprinting with sleds etc. sometimes simplicity is key when it comes to getting our athletes faster! We combine our speed training with plyometric and resistance training exercises specialized for our athlete’s sports and position, keeping in mind the work to rest ratios used in their sport. Keep in mind, we can’t do speed training if we are tired! To run fast and do proper speed training this involves FULL recovery. So, when coaches are doing endless conditioning drills just remember this also is not training SPEED.

            Bottom line, to get our athletes faster we run… and we run FAST!!! We love to use reactionary drills to mimic the sporting environment, and to add competition to our drills to push our athletes to their fullest potential. Athletes want to compete, and you get the best out of them when they are doing just that, competing!

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Know your stance!

There is an old adage, “if you start wrong, you’ll finish wrong.” This is the truth! In all sports not just football everything starts with your stance. Think about this without a proper stance a sprinter cannot get out of the blocks properly, without a proper stance a baseball player cannot hit for power. The same argument can be made for and OL having some sort of blocking responsibility, without a proper stance you are going to sacrifice speed and power off the LOS.

Here are a few tips that I will give you to have a better stance that will help you be more efficent getting off the ball, and strike you opponent with more speed and power!

Width of Base 

The width of your base is dependant on the frame work of your body. Someone who is really tall will have a wider base, than someone who is shorter, it’s just simple math. My basic rule of thumb is this, as long as you dont go more than 3 inches on either side of your shoulder structure, you are most likely in the green zone. This will allow you to be ‘wide’ enough to play with power, but also give you coil in your legs to change direction.

Angle of Feet

The angle of your feet in your stance is so darn important, this is the step most young kids dont understand. When you watch pop-warner and see young OL coaches teach “stance” they often tell thier kids to have thier feet pointing “north-south.” For the pop warner level this works, but when you get older and have to change direction with power this will not work. I like to use the hands of a clock as a coaching point for my guys. If we were coaching up a right handed stance, the Left foot our post foot would be tunred to abotu 10:30. Our right foot would be turned out a little more at about 2:00. Have your feet turned out ever so slightly will open your hips up, and it will allow you to play lower and with more power and speed.

Upper Body Posture

The posture in our upper body is just as important as that in our feet and legs. You want to be rigged through the core, but lose at the shoudlers. You chest needs to be up, with your head ever so slightly back. This upper body posture is so imporant because it will allow you to have an airplane take off effect, giving you thrust and power up and through your opponent!

At the beginning of the blog we had a picture of Quenton Nelson; arguably the best OL in the NFL right now and his pre snap set up has all three of the features that I just talked about! There is a reason why the NFL guys set up like this! Come to the Big Man Camp, and I will teach you why!

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