Recovery is an essential element of any athlete’s routine. Gamedays and even hard practices can leave an athlete feeling drained, ligaments and tendons stretched to their full capacity, swelling, or other symptoms. Often, this fatigue and soreness can carry onto the next day or beyond, jeopardizing performance and increasing the chances of injury.
Athletes have several proven recovery techniques at their disposal that can speed the process and in time for the next practice or game.
The RICE Method
One of the oldest but most effective remedies for athletic fatigue or soreness is known as the RICE Method. RICE is an acronym that stands for:
Cold therapy using ice, in particular, has shown great promise for increasing the durability, endurance, and performance of athletes.
Cold Water Immersion
As it turns out, the practice popular among athletes of sitting in ice baths following a tough practice or game is backed by legitimate science to support its effectiveness.
Cold water, or ice, exposure is proven to cut a recovery period in half, improve blood flow throughout the body (critical for a fast recovery process), and decrease sensations of pain.
Stretching is a healthy practice for anyone to incorporate into their daily routine, but it is especially beneficial for athletes.
Contrary to popular belief, effective stretching can be performed in a matter of minutes with minimal equipment. The major muscle and tendon groups to hit during stretching include the back (especially the lower back), the hamstrings, the quadriceps, and, often, the rotator cuff the controls the shoulder (this is important for pitchers and other athletes who rely on constant or repetitive shoulder movement).
Adequate Protein Intake
Protein, made of essential amino acids, is necessary for the body to fully repair damaged muscles and bring them back stronger and more durable than before.
Most dietary guidelines for athletes recommend getting at least one gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight for optimal health and performance. That means, for a 170-pound athlete, he or she needs roughly 170 grams of protein to meet the daily threshold. Unfortunately, the average Western diet is insufficient in terms of protein content.
Protein shakes for athletes can help boost intake.
In combination, these techniques can speed recovery and prevent injury in athletes who engage in high-intensity activity that requires proper recuperation.