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.