It’s 7 p.m. on a Friday night. The New Jersey air is just starting to get crisp. The lights are on and the stands are packed. You lace up your cleats and hit the field. You dip, dodge, split and tackle your opponents. You get knocked around just trying to gain that extra inch to get into the end zone. The fans love the excitement and so do you. Not a care in the world other than what is happening right in front of you. But what happens when the ref blows the last whistle? What happens when that adrenaline goes down and your body starts to feel all of the stresses you have placed upon it? Knowing how to properly rest and recover your body following an intense game or even an intense workout is paramount to your preparation process for the next competition.
During activities such as playing football, your body and tissues experience microtraumas each time you take a hit or cut quickly and power out in another direction. These microtraumas add up throughout the night and without proper rest and recovery tactics, can leave your body with Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS. The correct combination of the following essential components of rest and recovery can help to combat the impact of DOMS and help to prepare the body for future stresses: therapeutic modalities, soft tissue work, mobility, nutrition, hydration, sleep, stress management, and overall body mechanics. It is essential to differentiate between rest and recovery. Rest consists of sleeping and time spent not training (i.e. time spent in class, in meetings, at home relaxing with friends, etc). Recovery consists of techniques used to assist the body with recuperating from the trauma it has experienced. Over the course of the next few weeks I am going to break down the various types of recovery methods starting with therapeutic modalities.
Therapeutic modalities refers to pieces of equipment used to promote healing. There are numerous types of modalities on the market which all have different effects on the body. NormaTec, for example, is a compression device used to remove fluid and lactic acid built up surrounding your tissues. It is wrapped around an extremity and inflates with air. It inflates through segments distally to proximally (the segment furthest away from your midline to the segment closest to the midline) to aid in moving swelling out of the injured/overworked area. It functions by filling different chambers with different amounts of air to vary to the pressure it is placing on the body. It can be set so that certain chambers undergo ‘pumping’ actions to promote blood flow and then fill fully with air to provide compression as the next chamber, more proximal, pumps and assists the body system with lymphatic drainage.
Electrical stimulators are typically used for pain relief purposes, muscle re-education and to stimulate a muscle contraction. The Marc pro plus is an example of an electrical stimulator that aids in muscle recovery and pain relief. It assists in the recovery process by flushing out waste through causing a non-fatiguing muscle contraction.
Cryotherapy consists of the use of cold therapy and is used widely for its analgesic effects. The effects of cryotherapy are to decrease nerve transmission, vasoconstriction of blood vessels, and reduction of muscle spasms. Most commonly used of the cryotherapy methods are ice bags, ice packs, and cold therapy units. Less commonly used, but becoming more trendy amongst the professional athlete population is Cryogenics. Cryogenics is a vertical chamber that releases nitrogen vapor at about -200’F for a period of 2-3 minutes. By subjecting the body to these extreme conditions rapid vasoconstriction of superficial blood vessels occurs, forcing blood to rush to the core of the body. At the core, blood is replenished and toxins are removed. At the end of treatment blood rushes back out to the extremities bringing new nutrients to the area.
The above mentioned therapeutic modalities are just some of the ways in which you can help your body recover from a modality standpoint. That is just one piece of the whole recovery puzzle. Check in next Thursday to learn about the role soft tissue work plays in recovery.