0410 429 686

7 Lakeside Boulevard Rowville

Youth Sport and Recovery

It is often thought that children and adolescents recover faster than adults, but as they are still growing and developing, they may actually need more time to recover between high-intensity training sessions and competition.

After nearly 30 years as a therapist, I have witnessed an increase in the demands of youth sport in terms of training hours, physical and mental demands and specialisation. For a youth who undertakes more than one sport, or activity, these stresses multiply.

After training and competition, muscles have been worked hard, have been overstretched and may suffer micro-tears which cause an inflammatory response. This inflammation and other factors such as tightness, adhesions, build-up of waste products, pain receptor stimulation and nerve irritation, cause varying degrees of pain; depending on how hard they have exercised. Once the pain is present, this can hinder muscle function, manifesting in restricted movement or limited power, making performance less effective.

Physical and mental fatigue from over-exercise leads to lack of concentration, which may then lead to injury and burnout. Rest and recovery is critical for youths who participate in competitive sport or who train/ play three or more times per week, or who play more than one sport; specialise in one sport year round, or who participate in extracurricular conditioning activities.

Very active youth who have little chance to relax and recover, constantly release adrenaline and other hormones that can have a negative effect on their immune system, leaving the body more vulnerable to illness and generally making it more difficult for the body to recover. It is therefore essential that the youth is given time off to rest in order to recuperate. When properly rested, the body can perform optimally when competing or training.

Although a day off between activities might be adequate for youth who participate in recreational sports, higher levels of training and competition require higher levels of physical and mental stress; so it is imperative that a recovery program, which includes rest, massage, stretching and correct nutrition be developed and implemented to maintain an optimal performance state.

Importance of Massage for Recovery

 

An athlete’s normal cycle is to train, compete and recover. Prolonged periods of rest for full recovery are ideal, but may not be an option during a competitive season. One of the main objectives of Myotherapy is to enhance recovery and decrease recovery time, thereby improving athletic performance. Some of the key benefits include:

• Improved circulation by supplying nutrients and oxygen to muscles through increased blood flow, which helps the body to rebuild itself. This helps shorten recovery time between workouts by eliminating waste products such as lactic and carbonic acid that build up in muscles after exercise. It also influences the excretion of certain fluids (nitrogen, phosphorous, sulphur) necessary for tissue repair.

• It has a relaxing effect on the muscles, as well as a sedative effect on the nervous system by relieving muscle spasms and reducing nerve irritation which is essential for good recovery.

• It helps prevent and even heal injuries by improving range of motion and muscle flexibility by stretching connective tissue and breaking down adhesions.

Since recovery is an integral part of any training program, taking a day off between training and competition is important, however, for youths involved in higher competition, maybe having a day of ‘active recovery’ of less intense training may also be beneficial.

These ‘rest’ days may include shorter sessions designed to facilitate recovery and reduce the risk of injury while providing an opportunity to reinforce key movement skills, optimize training adaptations and focus on preventative rehabilitation exercises.

Muscles require time to repair, so rest combined with stretching and massage, appropriate nutrition and active recovery, will enable the youth to perform with higher intensity and concentration when required.

Coaches who simply focus on training may overlook the importance of recovery as they place greater demands on their participants; yet they need to pay just as much attention to rest and recovery sessions between training and competition.

The higher the intensity of training and games, the greater the stress on the body and mind, and therefore the importance of optimising recovery needs to be reinforced regularly. This is particularly important for young athletes who are still growing, developing, and socialising with their friends. Youth coaches should realize that the “more is better” attitude may be counterproductive and will likely result in injury, burnout, or poor performance.

About Spectrum Health & Wellbeing

Spectrum Health & Wellbeing Myotherapy, Reflexology and Reiki is located in Rowville, near Knox, Boronia, Bayswater, Ferntree Gully and Scoresby. We provide specialised integrative solutions for children, teens and adults using Myotherapy, Reflexology and Reiki.

CEO and Principal Therapist Derek Miglietti, has been working in Health and Fitness since 1988 as a therapist, instructor, lecturer (16 years) and consultant. As a specialist Integrative Therapist Derek has worked in nursing homes, with children, the AFL, elite athletes, state-sporting teams and in the corporate sector.