Recovery is a key component for athletes. It’s critical to allow your body time to rest, between workout sessions. However, there are various ways to recover.
Whether you are a believer in the R.I.C.E. method (rest, ice, compress, elevate) or you like trying every new gadget on the market, there are a variety of ways for athletes to help their body heal between strenuous workouts or practices.
Athletic Trainer Casey Paulk sat down to talk about the most common athletic injuries and the best athletic recovery tools that anyone can work into their routine.
What are the most common athletic injuries?
Various injuries can be associated with repetitive motions which is common for any sports, while other injuries are common with specific sports.
“The most common athletic injuries I’ve seen, and heard from athletic trainers across the country, are musculoskeletal injuries,” says Paulk. “And of those musculoskeletal injuries, the majority are lower extremity and typically focused on the knee and ankle.”
A musculoskeletal injury is an injury that affects the bone, muscles, ligaments, nerves, or tendons. Therefore, Paulk is referring to sprains or strains in the ankle, broken bones, a fractured or dislocated knee, or even ligament injuries. While this type of injury may affect just one spot on the body, the pain can be widespread.
Do you have any tips on muscle recovery after a gym session?
One way to avoid injury, give your muscles time to recover between strenuous workouts.
“Most people can benefit from stretching and cool down movements directly after a gym session,” says Paulk.
“Recovery pools – either hot or cold-and leg or arm compression systems like Normatec and Recovery Pump are helpful but kind of expensive for the individual to buy.”
While cooling down and stretching are important, rest should also be considered.
Why is rest day so important in your workout routine?
“Rest gives the body time to repair the tissues that have been targeted,” says Paulk. “It allows the body to adapt to the stresses placed on it.”
It’s important for muscles to replenish glycogen stores to reduce fatigue. In addition, over exercising and repetitive stress can lead to injury.
How do you recover quickly after a workout?
While rest is important, most athletes do not want to be down for an extended amount of time, but there are ways to help speed muscle recovery after workouts or on rest days.
“Hydration and nutrition are very important as well as sleep,” says Paulk. “There are many studies that are focused on these three factors that can help athletes recover quickly from competitions as well as workouts.”
The International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance suggests that elite athletes receive between 7-9 hours of sleep each evening. This statistic is based on a study observing 175 athletes that participated in various sports.
What is the best no-equipment workout to stay fast and agile?
Recovery doesn’t necessarily mean breaking the bank on muscle recovery technology. In fact, there are plenty of ways to stay fast and agile with no-equipment workouts.
“I would say some type of dynamic functional movements that are universal as well as sport specific,” says Paulk. “Yoga is an underutilized program, in my opinion. Mobility and stability should be something athletes and physically active individuals focus on.”
When it comes to recovery workout tools, what are your go-to products?
“I personally have therabody massage guns as well as their garments,” says Paulk. “For injuries, I use PowerPlay.”
Therabody massage guns were created after the founder was involved in a motorcycle crash. This product was developed to help manage pain.
PowerPlay is a system of cold compression wraps that help prevent injury. Learn more here.
Can you describe your experience using PowerPlay products?
“My experience using PowerPlay has been great,” says Paulk. “It greatly decreases the amount of time I have to spend in the athletic training room by treating multiple athletes at one time.”
The fact that it travels so well and does not take up much space is very important. I like that I can use the wraps for just compression without any thermal (cold or hot), or I can heat up the gel pack if it’s at room temperature to substitute for moist hot packs from a hydrocollator. Or I can use the gel packs cold in the athletic training room.
When I travel, I typically take the wraps and pump with me. I take my regular athletic training ice bags and should I need to treat an acute injury with cold and compression, I will just make an ice bag like normal but throw on the PowerPlay wrap and get the added compression. My athletes have loved it. That makes my job easier!” – Paulk.