Each offseason athletes come into PSP with the mindset of being the hardest worker to achieve whatever goal they are trying to obtain. Working hard in the gym is an important part of developing athleticism and improving your play on the field, but a common misconception is that training is the most important part of improving performance. Although training in the weight room is important, your training sessions are only a small part of your day, what you do during your time away from the gym can be the difference between success and failure. The time outside of training is your recovery period and it is an important part of optimizing your performance and reducing your chance of sustaining an injury. Enhancing your recovery can help reduce muscle soreness, increase performance, and improve mental focus to ensure you get the most out of your training sessions at PSP. When people think of recovery most people think of stretching, foam rolling, and ice baths but these practices only have a small influence on your recovery. The biggest factors influencing your recovery are nutrition, sleep, and stress. In today’s post we will be tackling how each of these factors affect recovery and ways to improve them.
Most athletes fail to properly fuel themselves to get the most out of their bodies and maximize recovery. The biggest question we get at PSP is “what should I be eating?”. Now that is a loaded question, and in short it depends on the person but check out the PSP nutrition guide for a full list of recommended foods to eat. As athletes, we need to remember that our bodies are like a machine and what we eat is our fuel. If we don’t fill ourselves up with the high-quality foods to use as energy, our bodies won’t be able to perform at the highest level possible. High quality foods are foods that are minimally processes, use minimal ingredients, and provide important nutrients to the body. I always say that if there are a bunch of ingredients on the label that you can’t read then you should probably look for a better alternative. If you are having trouble deciding what a high-quality food is the app Fooducate is a great app to use, as it gives a quality score from A-F and tells you about the ingredients used in the product. The amount of food you need to eat varies from person to person but it is important to listen to your body. When your body tells you its hungry then feed it, if your body tells you its full then don’t. Eating enough high-quality foods will help the body better repair muscle damage from exercise, improve performance, and increase mental clarity.
Sleep is one of the most important factors that influence athletic performance, yet 73% of high school students fail to get the 8-10 hours of sleep recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). While we sleep important processes that improve cognitive function, increase muscle growth, and promote proper recovery, such as an increased release of human growth hormone, are carried out. When you are missing out on sleep your decision making, energy, endurance, reaction time, and athletic ability become diminished and your risk of getting injured or sick increases. Getting enough sleep is important, but the quality of your sleep is just as important for helping you maximize your training and recovery. Some simple ways to help improve the quality of your sleep include:
Whether you are an adult or a student athlete we all have a lot on our plates. While its easy to get wrapped up in our stressful lives it is important that we take time for ourselves to relieve our stress. Stress can affect the body in several ways such as increasing muscle soreness, increasing anxiety, disturbing sleep patterns, reducing mental focus, changes in mood, and GI issues, all of which will affect recovery. It is important that you set aside some time each day to allow yourself to unwind and destress. While coming to PSP and getting in a killer workout is a great way to reduce some stress, there are other ways to reduce stress. Some tips and techniques to help you manage stress include:
It is important to remember that everyone’s recovery process will be different, what works for one person may not work for another. With all the information in the article it comes down to how you use it. It’s important to remember that small changes can go a long way in improving yourself as long as you stay consistent and are committed to changing for the better. I look forward to contributing to the PSP blog and hope you enjoyed this article.