Key to Olympics & NFL Training Camp Success: Rapid Recovery

I received great questions on 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.

In Closing

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!

Appreciating the Gift of Good Health

It didn’t take long before I knew it would be a special day.

This past Sunday morning I lined up to start the 5th running of the Run With Donna 1/2 Marathon in Jacksonville, FL.  It was 29 degrees, windy, still dark and exciting when the 4500+ runners started the dash towards the bridge.  All of us were cold but alive with dreams of a fast race.  My wife and I joined many of our friends for the annual event to raise money and awareness to fight breast cancer.

With not many miles logged this year, I focussed on starting the race slower than normal.  As the lead packs crossed over the intercostal bridge, the sun slowly started to rise and I came through the first mile at 7:16, one second slower than I had planned.  That was a great sign for the 12.1 miles to follow.

A smile warmed my face as I floated down J. Butler highway because I knew how lucky I was to be exactly where I was at that moment.  I had just turned 49 years old exactly 1 week earlier and here I was racing side-by-side with young speedsters, many of them less than 1/2 my age.  I loved every minute of it because I knew that these types of athletic experiences are special at any age.

Good health is a gift not to be taken for granted.  We’ve all done it.  Personally, I made a conscious effort to never make that mistake again.  I made a promise to myself  5 years ago to always appreciate my health, each and every day.

My deal with myself has proved to be one of my greatest gifts and I often ask others to make such a pact with themselves: To Truly Appreciate the Gift of Good Health

How Did I Demonstrate my Appreciation for the Gift of Good Health:

  • I thanked those who cheered for the runners.
  • I encouraged (most of) the runners who passed me.
  • I thanked the hundreds of volunteers who handed out drinks and directed the runners.
  • I high-fived fellow runners as we passed each other on the road.
  • I smiled more than I ever have in a race….true that it also helped warm my face as the windchill temperature dipped into the teens.
  • I joked with my fellow runners in the pack as we raced down the beach and through the streets of Jax Beach.
  • I clapped for the many bands that occupied the street corners and perched on the top of the bridge.
  • I laughed and waved at the drunk surfer dudes on the balcony  proudly displaying their “Show Me Your Mammogram” signs.
  • I ran as hard as I could finishing in 20th place overall in 1 hour and 28 minutes to win my age group.  I’ve found that the races that I ran with a grateful heart and a fun-loving attitude usually my most successful races!

The Rewards of Good Health

As a father of two young children and the husband of a loving younger wife, I have so much to live for.  Staying in shape and being physically capable of competing in athletic events is important to me and my family.  God has blessed me and, contrary to what seems to be the norm these days, I’m not afraid to thank God for my blessings in public.

I have many friends who are unable to be as active because of physical ailments so I know how fortunate I am each and every day.  My personal and professional Mission Statement is “To Enhance the Health of Others“.  If I can continue to share my sports medicine expertise with others to allow them to experience the joy of good health in whatever physical endeavors they chose, I know that I can change their lives as well.  That vision is why I created

Can You Help Me?

My goal with is to significantly enhance the health of two-million (2,000,000) people by the end of 2013.  You can help me to help others by sharing my message to others through my website and my Facebook page.  Just think of how rewarding it will be for you to help your friend to quickly eliminate his chronic knee pain or your favorite aunt to reduce her low back pain by 75% in 2 days or to provide a sports medicine resource to your neighbor with no insurance looking for a way to rehab his heel pain!

I know that good health is a gift for today and we all know it’s not guaranteed for tomorrow.  I believed in myself, regardless of my age, and I will continue to focus on enhancing my own fitness and anyone else who sees the quality of their life as a high priority.

Let me show you simple sports medicine tips to help you to do the same.