This month Dr. Thomas is discussing essential recovery strategies for athletes and active adults. Dr. Thomas Lindsey, D.O., is board certified in Family Medicine and Sports Medicine and his passion happens to be working with athletes and sports medicine.
Dr. Thomas completed his Family Medicine Residency and Sports Medicine Fellowship at the University of Alabama. Dr. Thomas also completed a pre-doctoral fellowship in osteopathic manipulative therapy, OMT, a hands-on approach to musculoskeletal disorders to correct structural imbalances, improve circulation, and relieve pain. Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy coupled with sports medicine brings a unique approach to the care of athletes and people of all ages. He will care for musculoskeletal injuries in addition to acute and chronic medical conditions to keep athletes healthy and on the field. Additionally, Thomas’knowledge of sports nutrition can help maximize performance and prevent injuries.
The life of an athlete can be hard and taxing on the body. Embarking on a journey of physical activity and athletic pursuits is invigorating, but the key to sustained performance lies in effective recovery strategies. As athletes and active individuals, your body’s ability to recover plays an important role in preventing injuries, optimizing performance, and ensuring longevity in your fitness journey. In this blog, Dr. Thomas explores essential recovery strategies that will help you bounce back stronger after every workout or athletic endeavor.
Sleep is a major factor in “bouncing back stronger.” Therefore we will spend much of our time on this subject. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly ⅓ of adults sleep less than the recommended seven hours per night. Sadly, but probably not surprisingly, there is an even larger deficit in teenagers. An astonishing ⅔ of high school students sleep less than 8 hours on a school night.
When you don’t get enough sleep, the following side effects can happen:
Decreased mental and motor memory skills, coordination, balance, and focus is lacking, hormones become “out of whack” and your metabolism slows down.
Dr. Thomas gives a very clear outline of some of the contributing factors for sleep deprivation specifically in youth athletes:
Primary contributing factors
- Timing of training sessions
- Altitude and other new environmental influences
- Emotional instability
- Sports drinks
- Recurrent injury
- Poor accommodation for travel and facilities
- Thyroid and growth hormone over activity
- Increase in oxidative and inflammatory markers after strenuous training or competition
As you can see, quality sleep is the cornerstone of effective recovery. During sleep, your body repairs tissues, releases growth hormones, and consolidates memories. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night and teens between 8-10 hours per night to maximize your body’s recovery potential.
*Keep a close eye out for an even more in depth article from Dr. Thomas on sleep deficiency and the effect it has on exercise.
Nutrition and diet for youth athletes is an area of interest for Dr. Thomas and he stresses to athletes that in order to achieve energy balance it’s important to consume an adequate amount of calories to promote protein synthesis, the state in which your muscles grow.
Fuel your body with the right nutrients to support recovery. Include a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals in your diet. Consider post-workout snacks that combine protein and carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores and aid muscle repair.
Have you ever heard of “counting macros”? Counting macros is where you are eating a certain amount of carbs, fats, and proteins based on your body weight and your goals. Here are his general recommendations:
Strength Training for one hour: 3-5g/kg of body weight
Endurance Training for five hours: 8-12g/kg BW
Fat should be no more than 20% of your daily caloric intake
Usually 20 to 35% total energy
Goal of .5 to 1g/kg of body weight per day
RDA recs = .8g/kg (.36 g per lbs)
If strength training in general you need to take in 1 gram of protein per lbs of body weight.
Dehydration can hinder recovery and performance. Ensure you’re adequately hydrated before, during, and after physical activity. Water is essential for nutrient transport, temperature regulation, and joint lubrication.
All athletes and active adults should acknowledge the need for active recovery in order to bounce back strong! Engage in light, low-impact activities on rest days. Activities like walking, swimming, or cycling at a moderate intensity can enhance blood circulation, promoting the removal of metabolic waste products and reducing muscle soreness.
By incorporating regular stretching into your routine, you can improve flexibility and reduce muscle stiffness. Dynamic stretching before workouts and static stretching afterward can enhance your range of motion and contribute to injury prevention.
Another way to engage in active recovery is through foam rolling and self massage. Invest in a foam roller for self-myofascial release. Rolling over tight muscles can improve blood flow, reduce muscle knots, and enhance overall flexibility. Add this to your post-workout routine for targeted muscle recovery.
Ice Baths and Cryotherapy:
While it may not be at the top of everyone’s list, it should be! Athletes are particularly accustomed to being told to take a dip in the ice bath to maximize recovery time and this is why. Cold therapy can help reduce inflammation and muscle soreness. Ice baths or localized cryotherapy can constrict blood vessels, minimizing swelling and providing relief to fatigued muscles. This is a great way of active recovery.
Listen to Your Body:
Pay attention to signals from your body. If you’re feeling fatigued or notice persistent soreness, consider adjusting your training intensity or taking an additional rest day. Pushing through excessive fatigue can lead to overtraining and increased risk of injury.
Effective recovery is a cornerstone of athletic success and longevity in physical activity. By prioritizing sleep, nutrition, and incorporating targeted recovery strategies, you empower your body to perform at its best. Remember, it’s not just about the intensity of your workouts; it’s also about how well you recover. Implement these strategies consistently, and watch yourself bounce back stronger, ready to tackle your next fitness challenge.