Recharge your batteries after a long season. The constant routine of practices, games, tests and homework can take a toll on the body of a student-athlete. Adequate recovery between sports will actually help improve your performance. Give your body a well-deserved break with the following refreshing tips:
Muscles that are tired or atrophied from wear and tear require protein-rich foods and beverages to rebuild. Be sure to keep eggs, milk, cheese, fish, meat, nuts and seeds in your daily diet. Also, consume fruits, veggies, whole grains, water and decaffeinated black and green tea. These are all natural anti-inflammatory foods and beverages for reducing joint and muscle soreness. They also benefit the immune system, so you’re not sidelined by a cold or flu.
Consume five or six small meals daily (spaced two to three hours apart) comprising protein and carbohydrates, and drink plenty of water to get those nutrient-dense foods to your muscles for energy and recovery. (Keep these Three Portable Energy-Boosting Foods on hand.)
Stretching upper- and lower-body muscles daily enhances flexibility, relieves stiffness and reduces mental stress from schoolwork and sports. Stretch each muscle about 10 to 15 seconds (without bouncing), and breath naturally to promote relaxation. You’ll feel like a new person after a good stretch routine, which takes just five to 10 minutes each day. (Read more on STACK’s Stretching page.)
Like stretching, massage is a wonderful stress-reducer. (Looking for a legal performance enhancer? Try a Massage.) A massage therapist can eliminate muscle and joint tightness and trigger points deep in the muscles causing chronic soreness. If you do not have access to a massage therapist, use a foam roller or a tennis ball on tight shoulder, back, hip and leg muscles. Place the foam roller or tennis ball under the targeted muscle and press against the roller or ball to relieve muscle tension and soreness.
Not only is drinking cool water energizing, but cool water applications are also invigorating and help reduce muscle and joint soreness. Conversely, warm showers and baths relax the body, soothing achy joints and fatigued muscles while alleviating mental stress. A warm bath is a fine remedy for tired legs and feet from running up and down the basketball court or skating up and down the ice the past few months. (See also Use Cold Therapy for Quicker Recovery.)
A restorative good night’s sleep is a must for peak academic and sports performance. Regularly aim for at least seven to nine hours each night. Adequate sleep is also crucial for recovery after exercise and sports and to fortify the immune system.