How LeBron James Recovers and Stays Fit During the Cavs' Grueling Playoff Run
With the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight season, it's worth taking a moment to review LeBron James's post-season résumé. This is the King's 11th straight playoff appearance and his eighth appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals. If the Cavs defeat the Toronto Raptors in a series that is now surprisingly deadlocked at two games apiece, James will reach the NBA Finals for the sixth straight time, the seventh in his career.
That adds up to a lot of mileage on his 31-year-old body, though LeBron looks as fresh as ever. He's even told reporters that his body feels as good as it ever has during this 2016 NBA Playoff run. Much of this is because of the attention LeBron pays to his body. The two-time NBA champion is firmly in tune with what his body needs and when it needs it.
Throughout this playoff run, LeBron has used several recovery tools to ensure that he is as fresh as can be for the next game. The first is the cryotherapy chamber, which LeBron has been employing for a few years now. Subzero temperatures inside of the chamber speed up the recovery process of LeBron's tissue, decreasing inflammation in his joints and muscles. LeBron used the cryotherapy chamber extensively during last season's playoffs when he had to play extra minutes because both Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were down with injuries.
LeBron also takes advantage of his hyperbaric oxygen chamber, an apparatus that looks like a high-tech sleeping bag. Once inside, James lies down and zips up to the top, fully encasing himself in the chamber. Inside, the air pressure can be increased, allowing James's lungs to soak up more oxygen than they normally can outside the chamber. The extra oxygen is carried throughout his bloodstream, further promoting the healing of damaged tissue. Richard Jefferson caught LeBron inside his chamber the other day via his Snapchat, and jokingly said LeBron only comes out when it's time for a game.
LeBron has also taken a serious liking to NormaTec leg boots, a recovery technology he's been using since 2011 to help his legs regenertate their power. The leg boots act as a massager, molding to the shape of LeBron's legs and using what the brand calls "dynamic compression," or "pulsing" to "enhance the movement of fluid and metabolites out of the limbs" after James has worked out. Essentially, the NormaTec leg boots massage his sore extremities while promoting recovery at the same time.
I'm always open to things that can help," James told Bleacher Report. "I started using it, my legs started feeling better and I didn't stop. I started taking it on the road and everything. I mean, I think it's awesome."
But recovery is only half the battle. After sweeping the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Cavs found themselves with over a week off before playing Toronto in the Eastern Conference Finals. Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue and strength and conditioning coach Derek Millender made sure the team's conditioning didn't fade while they waited.
According to the AP, before the Eastern Conference Finals began, the Cavs took part in a series of breakneck workouts that focused on the players' cardiovascular capacity. One of the them was reportedly so brutal that many of the Cavs were unable to continue running after just 40 minutes.
Keeping his body fresh is a 24/7 effort for James. For some, that can seem like a daunting and intimidating task. But for James, it's clear how important his body is to him, especially at this stage of his career. It's a huge part of the reason why he is still playing at his physical peak despite all the wear and tear on his body over 14 years in the NBA.