Recuperation, rest and recovery is important and often taken for granted and treated more as a nuisance!
I’ve dealt with many ‘athletes’ in my years in practice and they can get tricky to work with and that’s because they want to quickly recover from their injuries and return to their sport. “An ‘athlete’ is a person trained to compete in sports or exercises involving physical strength, speed and endurance” (Collins English Dictionary, 2012). The athlete must undergo constant fitness stressors, assessments, training and strict diets. However there is one thing that an athlete does which in my person opinion is the most important activity and that is Recovery.
Recovery allows the body to heal itself, rest and learn from its previous activity so that you can return to that activity bigger, faster and stronger. It is absolutely essential that recuperation be part of an athlete’s regimen. How can you think to continue building muscle bulk, tone and memory if you don’t have a recovery/rehabilitation plan in place? A great example is the good old truck in logistics. Trucks can travel all around the country bringing stock and supply several times a week – which is a great deal of travelling many kilometres on the road. But should that truck break down from overuse then that role/responsibility of that truck is not achieved and the flow of stock and supply is affected. That’s why companies have plans and policies in place to take care and nurture their costly trucks by routinely servicing the trucks so that they continue doing their jobs.
The keywords I’ve used so far have been ‘athletes’, ‘recovery’, ‘rehabilitation’ and ‘overuse’ and you may think this article is only for sporting athletes but I’m going to shake your world by saying you are an athlete. You really are. Seriously. I’m not mocking you but opening your eyes in that you too also need to realise that you too need recovery and rehabilitation. As an athlete, you are the most physically, mentally and socially well-equipped to handle your lifestyle. This includes your work, sport, your roles and responsibilities in your family and social circle, only ‘You’ can do ‘You’, because of this you must nurture and maintain this lifestyle as well as you can. Just like the truck example above, if you should ‘break down’ then your lifestyle goes into chaos. Bulletproof that lifestyle of yours by firstly understanding that you are an athlete who may/will suffer from overuse injuries and that there must be a recuperation (recovery and rehabilitation) plan in place to safeguard your livelihood.
What have you been doing?
I’m sure you may have heard the ‘Mars Bar’ slogan – “Work, Rest, Play” which I’ve totally lived by however I believe they forgot the recuperate part! I define ‘Work’ as your physical activities such as going to work, school, university, training, exercise and housework. ‘Rest’ is your downtime sleeping, relaxing and chilling out, while ‘Play’ is what you do for fun and enjoyment such as going out, spending time with family and travelling. There are some of you who go swimming (to relieve inflammation and lactic acid buildup) and attend yoga classes which are great and essential.
What do I need to do to recuperate?!
With the ‘Work, Rest, Play’ mentality applied and understood, I recommend you apply my ‘M.E.N.D. method’! The ‘M.E.N.D.’ method is a 4 rule process to ensure you recuperate well (remember, sleep is important but I’ve allocated that to ‘Rest’). Let’s decode the process:
I’ve preached to my clients that your first sign of pain is usually muscular tightness. If you are suffering from migraines, lower back pain and foot pain, please check the muscles first before you start taking unnecessary pain medication. Remember, you are an athlete who plays your ‘life-sport’ the best, 24/7, 365 days. Therefore this constant activity will cause your muscles to tighten and form ‘trigger points’ or myofascial pain syndrome which are small areas of your muscle that are in great spasm causing great pain.
Muscles are supposed to be strong elastic structures which are meant to be strong and flexible, keep them that way by getting muscle release by a massage therapist or DIY foam rolling.
In the case of difficulty or severe muscle stiffness and trigger points then I recommend consulting with me to receive shockwave therapy (SWT). SWT is the modern method for muscle release. Acoustic waves are generated by the machine then charged by a compressor and these waves are fired deep into tissue for pain relief, improved range of motion and increase recovery. SWT penetrates muscles deeper than a hands-on massage does.
Eccentric & Static Stretching
Both eccentric and static stretching is important for ALL ATHLETES. Applying both methods will make your elastic muscles more flexible and stronger.
Eccentric stretching is stretching with resistance and essential to any rehab program. Your muscle is in a controlled motion of tension and contraction as it is gradually lengthened with an application of an external force. This form of stretching is replicated during controlled weight lifting and band exercises. A good example is doing a biceps curl very slowly, pausing slightly at every angle and feeling your biceps muscle pull under tension. Another one is dropping your heels off a step and slowly lifting it up which means you will be doing an eccentric calf stretch.
Food and water are fuel for your body. Consume/fill up your body with the great stuff and it will purify your ‘engines’ and heal your body. If you fill it with garbage like junk, fast food, sweets and alcohol then you will poison the body, leading to degradation.
Whether you’ve finished a workout, job, school or housework you need to ensure that you’re feeding your body system with premium fuel. Foods high in fibre, low fat, high GI (keep you tummy full), moderate protein and fruits and of course water will keep your body working at its best, allowing you to have more energy, boost immunity and allow you to recover from your ‘sport’ more efficiently.
Feed your system junk at your peril! Feeding yourself with junk causes your body to have to work harder and use more energy to process and break down that food, meaning you’ll be hungry faster but be more sluggish. Late night binge alcohol intake and kebabs are not a good combination for your body! Everyone knows that!
If you are serious about consuming a suitable diet then make time to meet with a dietician or nutritionist who can organise an eating plan for you.
There are 4 letter to this plan. M.E.N.D. Why did I waste the last one with good ol’ Time? Because we humans take our health for granted. A great majority of us follow the ‘REACTIVE’ health mentality, meaning we only do something for our health when something goes wrong. ‘Dedicate time’ encourages you to be “PROACTIVE” with your health. Health and recovery is important. Dedicate time to stretch, to get muscle release and to plan your meals.
Most importantly, dedicate time to share this new knowledge to your friends and family and encourage them to follow the proactive health approach. Because taking care of yourself means you’ll always be at your best.
Would you like to know more? Do you want to take your recuperation to the highest best possible? Time to get serious. If you would like to discuss my M.E.N.D. recuperation method and perhaps have a plan designed for you, then let’s talk! Send through email, Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. Why? Because it’s important.
Move smarter not harder!
Grant Duong, Podiatry
At the Triumph Institute located in the heart of Bankstown, Sydney we also practice podiatry. It’s a medical field that specialises in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of problems and issues that affect the lower limbs, from the lower back right down to our feet.