How to recover like an Olympian!
As the Tokyo 2020(1) Olympics kicks off we are all likely to spend the next month glued to the TV, iPad or work computer watching the best in the world compete for the ultimate prize. The reality is however that there are thousands of athletes around the world who unfortunately didn’t quite make it. Although qualifying standards and the challenges of the last twelve months do come into this, the dreaded injury is another reason some may not have punched their ticket to Tokyo.
So if an athlete at that level does experience an injury – how do they recover, and what can us mere mortals learn from them? Here are three tips that no matter what age or stage, or level of sport can improve your recovery following an injury. I have chosen to focus on the things that are readily available to all of us, and highlight why they are important.
- Sleep! Following an injury a percentage of the body’s energy needs to shift towards healing, repair and recovery. Sleep is known to be crucial to performance, but it is also vital to recovery. Restful sleep is best achieved by switching off devices at least 30min before bed time. Go to bed at an earlier time so that you get a full 8hrs+ rest.
- Hydration. Our body is up to 60% water and it is crucial for maintaining healthy circulation. It is through our body’s plumbing system that we are able to clear inflammatory chemicals and send the white blood cells to the injury site to kickstart healing. We should be drinking 3-4 litres of water each day, and no – countless cups of coffee don’t count!
- Active recovery. We now know that active recovery, doing a little bit of gentle painfree physical activity is better than complete bed-rest. This helps with circulation, maintaining range of movement and helping to speed up your progression to the next phase of recovery. Some good options for lower body or back injuries are gentle swimming, aqua jogging or stationary bike work. For upper body injuries simple walking is a simple and effective option.
In our clinic we are often asked how certain high profile athletes have managed to recover from a similar injury so quickly. Although these athletes may have access to immediate healthcare, diagnostics and top of the line treatment…it is amazing how much these three tips can improve your chances of a successful and rapid recovery. If following an injury these few tips aren’t creating significant improvement then the next step is to have an assessment from a suitably qualified physio or health professional to establish a diagnosis and set up a management plan.
In the meantime we hope you remain healthy and uninjured and can enjoy watching the Olympics!