Specific elements you should be aware of to promote effective recovery:

  • quality and sufficient sleep,
  • balanced nutrient levels:

             * healthy individualized eating habits (what and when you eat),

         * pre- & post-match/ training meals,

  • proper hydration (drinking enough water, and not too much),
  • breathing patterns and exercises,
  • regular social recharge through relaxing with family or friends,
  • soft-tissue recovery.

Of the above mentioned elements for recovery, soft-tissue work is probably the most unknown and underestimated. Sure, most competitive sportsmen and women might know of ice-baths, but what I'm specifically referring to here is all means of myofascial regeneration techniques. This includes foam, stick or ball rolling, deep tissue massage, and trigger point work with a hard rubber ball or thera-cane. Most of these can be performed on your own, and can be used on a daily basis to address those specific areas of weakness which you should know better than anyone else.

This cornerstone of optimal performance is therefore related to all those aspects of life that help us to recover from exertion. Whether recovering from a bout of exercise, or dealing with the over-all fatigue levels of seasonal competition, your potential for optimal recovery is a product of a balanced lifestyle, and therefore intrinsically tied to the other 4 cornerstones.

Although we all know it takes hard work to improve sporting performance, truth is that hard training actually breaks you down and makes you weaker. It’s only when training is followed by sufficient rest that you become stronger. Therefore, recovery is as important as training if your goal is optimal performance.

Recovery is about restoring the body and the mind to pre-fatigue levels. The physical aspect of recovery from training and competition involves the:

  1. normalization of physiological functions (e.g. blood pressure, cardiac cycle),

  2. return to homeostasis (repair of muscle cell environment),

  3. restoration of energy stores (blood glucose and muscle glycogen), and

  4. replenishment of cellular energy enzymes (i.e., phosphofructokinase a key enzyme in carbohydrate metabolism) (Jeffreys 2005).

The psychological fatigue of hard training and competition also requires planned recovery. The strain of weekly training schedules followed by stressful games/ matches, leads to mental fatigue. Without sufficient social stimulation to help an athlete forget about training and competition, he or she can soon find themselves emotionally drained. Spending quality time on social recovery (activities that does not involve sport) can be very helpful here, for example, going to the movies, reading, spending solitary time in nature, or socializing with friends or family.

Optimal Recovery