Our Sunday Tennis Column: The all-important concept of “recovery”
The latest activity among sports people is the use of the yoga “hot-pod”
The most traditional of the recovery methods was stretching. The basic science behind stretching was that it would alleviate lactic acid which had accumulated in the muscles during competition or sports activity. This would then help the muscles to recover and help athletes recover from their fatigue. Those days, almost all of the stretching was done whilst standing in one place. This is called “static stretching”. For a long time in sport, static stretching was considered acceptable.
But later, with the advancement of science, it was found out that “dynamic stretching” was far more suited for the athletes.
Dynamic stretching is a movement-based type of stretching. It uses the muscles themselves to bring about a stretch. It is different from traditional “static stretching” because the stretch position is not held. These stretches are active movements where joints and muscles go through a full range of motion. They can be used to help warming up your body before exercising. Dynamic stretches can be functional. They may mimic the movement of the activity or sport you are about to perform.
Advancement of sports science
But, with the advancement of sports science, another factor was added to stretching. These were the sports massages and the nutritional aspects which also help recovery.
Sports massages became popular with the elite athletes before they filtered down to recreational athletes. Sports massage is a form of massage involving the manipulation of soft tissues to benefit a person engaged in regular physical activity. The application of sports massage, both prior to and after exercise, enhances performance, aids recovery, and prevents injury.
It involves a wide range of techniques that include effleurage (a form of massage involving a repeated circular stroking movement made with the palm of the hand), kneading (squeezing with the hands), wringing (or lifting up and squeezing of the muscle in a forward and backward motion), hacking (like chopping), and trigger-pointing (or rubbing and pressing on trigger points or the muscle “knots” which are sore spots in soft tissue that cause deep aching).
A sports massage is used for general relaxation of the muscular skeletal system as well as being directed towards any problem areas.
With the further advancement of science, the nutritional aspects of sports science were used to help recovery as well. An athlete was advised that if a substantial meal is consumed within 45 minutes to one hour after a sport activity is concluded, it would help in the recovery of the muscles.
Not only that, it was also proved through scientific research that if a meal which includes all the nutritional aspects was not consumed within the time period, it in fact delays the recovery of muscles. This finding revolutionised the thinking as well as the eating patterns of elite as well as recreational athletes.
Hydro therapy is the use of water and ice to help in the recovery process. Hydrotherapy, formerly called hydropathy or water cure, is part of alternative medicine, occupational therapy, and physiotherapy that involves the use of water for pain relief and treatment recovery, according to its common definition.
The use of hydro therapy was widely used by athletes by making use of the swimming pool to aid in their recoveries. When its recuperative theories were understood, it caught on quickly as another form of recovery for the sports persons.
That is because of the fact that athletes, when using ice baths, tend to submerge themselves totally in the ice. Sports people using these baths should submerge themselves only up to their waist. It is important that they learn the correct way to use the ice bath.
The latest activity among sports people is the use of the yoga “hot-pod” to aid them in their recoveries.
This has in fact been popular with some players at the ongoing Euro 2020 football tournament too. This has meant that players have turned to yoga with a difference, in their bid to recharge by stepping into a 37-degree “hot pod”.
This is a kind of an inflatable structure where the players are doing yoga stretches in an atmosphere where the temperature is controlled.
Speaking about its partnership with the England football team at the Euros, the yoga hot-pod co-founder Max Henderson has said: “It’s a huge privilege to be working with the Three Lions. Having built up a lot of experience working with elite sports teams over the years, (and) being part of the England team’s setup at the Euros, with such an exciting squad of players, (it) is something pretty special.”
Whilst this has not caught on yet with the recreational athletes, it is just a matter of time before it does so as most of the elite athletes seem to be really impressed by the efficiency of the yoga “hot-pod”.
With sports competitions getting fiercer and fiercer as well as more and more intense, elite as well as recreational athletes will be looking for every small advantage that they could get.
In fact, these small advantages could very well be the difference between winning and losing in competitions. As such, the concept of recovery will only keep getting more and more important for all athletes, no matter whether they are professionals or not.