Recovery is an essential part of athletic preparation. Not only is it important during the season to be fresh and full recovered for games, but your fitness progress in the off and pre-season is also highly dependent on good recovery habits.
See this page for guidelines on proper overall nutrition and recommended supplementation.
Pre and Post workout nutrition is in particular is important (although not as important as overall nutrition - so make sure you get that part right first).
The goal of pre workout nutrition is to provide fuel for the upcoming training session - so focus on a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats. I would recommend roughly 0.5g of protein per kg of bodyweight and 0.5g of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight and 0.25g of fats per kg of bodyweight.
For post workout nutrition the goal is to replenish depleted muscle glycogen stores, decrease muscle protein breakdown and increase muscle protein synthesis after the training session . The most effective way to do this is by consuming a protein and carb meal - I would recommend roughly 0.5g of protein per kg of bodyweight and 1g of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight.
Consumption of at least 2.5L (10 glasses) per day is necessary for athletes (more may be required in summer and during heavy training days and periods) - I'm talking about water nothing added, not liquid from teas, coffee, milk etc.
If you don't have access to filtered water - I'd recommend getting a Water Filter Pitcher or Water Filter Bottle so you can enjoy better tasting and quality drinking water with less toxins.
It goes without saying sleep is important. For athletes it can help tremendously with both recovery (the body naturally produces growth hormones during deep sleep that stimulate muscle repair, muscle growth and fat oxidation) and learning new motor skills (neural pathways are consolidated during sleep).
The key to healthy sleep is to go to bed when you are sleepy and allow yourself to wake up naturally (at the time your body thinks you've got enough sleep) - developing a natural sleeping rhythm and schedule your body is comfortable with is much more important than commonly held beliefs such as going to bed early or getting a specific amount of sleep.
If you going to opt for an alarm clock (ignoring my good advice!) - I would recommend a dawn simulator over a traditional "beep-beep!" alarm clock, as it allows you to achieve a much more easier, natural and fluent waking up process.
Sports massage helps increase circulation of blood and lymph (the fluid that gets rid of waste products), increase blood oxygen capacity.
If you can't afford to or are unable to see a professional masseuse regularly there are some other options:
- Get your partner to learn some basic massage techniques (you might have to take out the trash or wash the dishes in return!)
- Get a sports masseuse as your partner (if you have game!)
- Get a foam roller and other self massage tools (if you don't have game...)
Compression garments are said to improve recovery by reducing lactic acid build up during exercise, as well as reducing soreness from exercise induced microtraumas (muscle damage - EIMD). There is definitely a psychological boosting aspect to them as well.
SKINS are a popular brand with most Australian athletes but are also the most expensive. More affordable options include UnderArmour, 2XU, Adidas and Nike
Contrast Showers or Baths
Contrast showers work by alternating vasoconstriction (from cold) and vasodilation (from hot) of blood vessels to increase blood and lymph flow to get rid of waste products and deliver nutrients to the muscles faster.
Highly regarded strength and conditioning coach and T-Nation author Christian Thibadeau reccommends alternating 30 seconds of cool water and 2 minutes of hot water and repeating the cycle 3-4 times.
Epsom Salt Baths
Bathing in Epsom Salt (Magesium Sulfate) is said to increase blood magnesium levels as magnesium can be absorbed by the skin. Magnesium is a particular important mineral for athletes as it helps muscles relax, decreases inflammation and boost testosterone production - it is also one many athletes are deficient in.
Christian Thibadeau reccommends adding 200-400g of Epsom Salt to a warm bath and bathing in it for 10-20 minutes.
Ice massages help reduce inflammation of the muscles and tendons. They can also be used as a contrast technique with a hot sauna or bath/shower or pad. Use some baby oil to prevent shock and massage in increasing diameter circles.
The Cryocup is a handy tool for those interested in this technique.
Electronic Muscle Stimulator (EMS) can be used on a low intensity pulse (1-9Hz) for 15-20 minutes with similar effect to a massage - increasing blood flow and hence flow nutrients to muscles, relaxing muscles and breaking down muscle fibre adhesions.
Active recovery can constitute both low intensity exercise done immediately after the training session or game or on the day(s) after.
It helps by increasing blood circulation which in turn helps speed up the delivery of nutrients and removal lactate from the muscles.
See this article for more in depth explantion of some of these recovery techniques and more.