Post Practice Habits Every Athlete Should Follow
It is the peak of the season right now and you do NOT want to be struggling during a race because your leg cramps up. We have gathered a few tips and tricks from our Boathouse ambassadors about how to recover quickly after an intense practice so you can be your best self for race day.
Water! Water! Water!
You have probably heard this a million times but even if you are not thirsty as an athlete you should be drinking 2-3x more water than a non athlete. The most important thing your body needs is water to replenish your muscles. And here’s a tip. Label your 32oz water bottle by hour, you should be drinking a certain amount every hour and refilling your bottle at least 3 times a day, even more if you can!
This is as important as water. If you are not stretching after practice you will not feel any better the next morning. And you should be stretching 2 or 3 times whether you do it for 5 minutes or 30 you should still get some sort of stretch in everyday. Especially your off days it is super important and remember your body has to be warmed up, so go for a small jog or do some jumping jacks and then stretch it out, you will thank me later.
Yes of course everyone goes to sleep at the end of the day but make sure you have some structure to your sleep. For every 2 hours you are awake and active you should be getting 1 hr of rest. For example, if you are awake and active for 14 hours you should be getting a MINIMUM of 7 hours of sleep. But if you can you should always try and get more than that. Sleep is recovery too, even if you are not actively doing something.
Eat The Right Things
As an athlete you should be taking care of your body and you should know about the right amount of calories you should be consuming a day for your correct body weight and amount of activity. This does not mean go home and eat a piece of chocolate cake and a bowl of pasta to meet your correct calorie intake. What you put into your body is what you will get out of it and your muscles will not recover from carbs and sugar. The most important foods for recovery are foods high in Vitamin A and Vitamin C like carrots, spinach, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. Another big thing you need is protein. As an athlete you should be getting from anywhere near 80-120 grams of protein a day. You can find that in lean meats, eggs, milk, yogurt, and fish will give you protein and extra omega 3’s. You should incorporate these 2 things in every meal you have to recover successfully.
Now i'm not saying do this everyday, but to stay in tip top shape everyone needs to treat themselves to a massage and or ice bath or cryotherapy. These are not necessary but they really could aid in feeling better. At least once a month if possible you should get a massage to loosen your muscles because even the deepest stretches will not help as well as a deep tissue massage. And for cryotherapy, by experience I can say has worked very well and it aids in long term recovery, it is a bit on the pricier side but it will aid in faster recovery and will last longer than anything else I have experienced before.
Do NOT just go home and lay around because that will cause your muscles to tense up and make you even more sore. It’s like jumping out of a moving car going 100mph, you just can't do that! So instead stay active, either by walking, doing cool downs, *Stretching* or yoga, after an intense practice so your body can properly slow down rather than damaging yourself by coming to a hard stop.
Especially in the colder months you may feel super hot after an intense practice. Do Not! And I repeat Do Not walk outside in the cold with just a t shirt and shorts on. This goes along with active recovery, you need to let your body cool off slowly or you will end up hurting yourself and cramping up your muscles. We picked out our best jackets to help with your after practice cool down. Our Stevenson Jacket is super breathable so you can cool down easily and has a extra flap to cover your butt so youre not cold sitting on the bench! Our other jacket that covers your whole body in those colder rough days is the Parka. It extends all the way down past your knees and is also super breathable.
Your body will tell you when you are not feeling well, you will know when you are just sore and when there's actually something wrong. Everyone has those days where it is just too much, so if you need it take an extra day to recover and incorporate all of the above points to get yourself back in shape and don’t get upset if you miss a day it happens to even the best of athletes.
Whether you are a rower or not these tips can help any athlete in recovering. And you may have heard people say these points a million times but it is so, so, so important to keep these in mind everyday so you can stay in your best shape. If you follow these steps there will be no more complaining and you can feel good while the rest of the athletes you know are tired and sore and not performing to the best of their abilities.
____________________________________________________________________________________________If you want to read more tips and tricks check out Swimming Tips For Beginners and The Seven Things Only Rowers Understand