I received great questions on MikeRyanSportsMedicine.com from Carl in Texas and Maria’ in France related to how world-class athletes recovery so effectively. Recovery is one of my favorite sports medicine topics.
I was talking to our defensive back Aaron Ross a couple of days ago at our Jaguars’ practice about his speedster wife and Olympian Sanya Richards-Ross. He was bragging about her, for very good reason, and how she was racing against the best runners in the world almost every day for over a week. Although the final races get all the hype, each event has preliminary heats that need to be successfully completed for an athlete to qualify for the “big events” in the Olympics.
It got me to thinking how similar that schedule is for high-level athletes in the NFL, in college and on courts around the world. Lots of preparing, training, competing, recovering and repeating it all over again. All it takes is to look at the hectic race swimming schedule of Olympic phenom Missy Franklin to appreciate why the recovery is so important for athletes focussed on performing at a very high level while avoiding injuries.
In an NFL training camp, the 90 players on each roster will practice twice a day for as much as 4 hours per day in extreme heat wearing full football gear, lift weights 3-4 days per week, attend 3-4 hours of classroom meetings per day, study their playbook 3 hours per night and spend 3-4 hours per day warming-up and recovering. I have a huge amount of respect for these players and their dedication to the game of football!
Sports Medicine Applied
Bigger, faster and strong is the goal for most of us. Elite athletes recognize that sports medicine techniques emphasize the RECOVERY to make it all happen faster. Recovery is not as sexy as running up a mountain or lifting 300 lbs but its necessary for successful athletes at any age.
Recovery in the NFL
I’d like to show you how NFL athletes recover so quickly and effectively. These are some of the tools commonly used by elite athletes to maximize their recovery:
- Cryotherapy – Cold whirlpools, ice baths, ice massage and ice bags to decrease pain and inflammation.
- Rollers – To loosen the body and extremities.
- Elevation – Raising the legs after a workout to promote blood flow out of the legs and speed the recovery process.
- Contrast Baths/Showers – Alternating hot & cold baths or showers to flush the body’s waste products from the muscles.
- Compression – To maintain tissue temperature while minimizing extremity bloating and blood pooling.
- Flexibility Exercises – To lengthen the body’s muscles and enhance one’s blood flow.
- Manual Therapy – Soft tissue mobilization, massage, myofascial techniques and biomechanical therapy.
- Cardio Exercise – To improve increase muscle temperature and blood flow while enhancing the ridding of the body’s waste products.
If you only remember one thing, it’s recovery is a simple process that every athlete should implement to stay healthy. It doesn’t require expensive equipment or time-consuming efforts. Make it part of your routine and you’ll be feeling like a champ!