Is there a place for professionalism in amateur sport - 4 The Physiologist (pt 2)

Written by:
Mark Cairns

The Physiologist - Part 2

Following on from my previous post, I am going to discuss some basic recovery strategies that if your players adhere to, will mean they turn up for training in a condition that will allow them and you to get the most out of your sessions.

First of all, here’s a look at the recovery strategies we employ after each game during a typical day on the IRB 7’s circuit:

  • Post match warm-down lasts no longer than 5 minutes

  • Leg Drain – we elevate our legs using a wall

  • Ice Baths or Contrast Baths – Every clubhouse bar has an ice machine, all you need is ice and a couple of wheely bins and a stop watch.

  • We weigh ourselves before and after the game to give us an idea of how much fluid we have lost. We replace this with water and electrolyte drinks, if they are too expensive then orange cordial and the right amount of salt will do.

  • Lastly we eat a good meal normally including pasta or rice or potatoes and chicken or fish. It’s also to try and get some vegetables in there too.

We play 3 games of sevens in 1 day, so we really need to stay on top of our recovery and the main parts of our recovery protocol can easily be adapted to the amateur game.

Let it Flow

When you read the list above, the strategies employed, are not overly difficult to integrate around your own match day, so why not give them a go.

Looking at the first 3 points above, there is a common theme that they are trying to encourage, which is blood flow. Our cardiovascular system is circulatory, so to encourage the removal of waste products we need to influence this blood flow, through more static methods such as the leg drain and baths, or raising heart and breathing rates by doing some light exercise. We often use spinning bikes to eliminate impact around our joints but these are not essential.

Game Day + 1

I am sure I am not the only one who has spent most of the day following a tough match lying on a couch (for those of us who have the luxury of playing on a Saturday and no work till Monday) and eating food that is bordering on slightly unhealthy and some that is definitely not ,and may even arrive in some form of cardboard! However, is this what the body really needs?

Game Day + 2

It is now Monday, and my training week is starting again, but, I am still feeling fatigued and the motivation to go to the gym and the quality once there is low. Thinking back to what I did the previous day, is lying around and eating junk food the best thing I could have done? Probably not!

So what should be done to allow you to hit the ground running at the start of another training week? The principles are similar to the recovery strategies immediately post-match.

Active Recovery

It may seem strange, but the best way to recover from some physically demanding exercise, is to do some exercise!

It doesn’t need to be much, but weed need to get our heart and breathing rate elevated again in order to help remove those previously mentioned waste product’s that are still hanging around, but can be removed at a faster rate if we follow a few simple steps:

  • Do some light exercise that may involve:

  • Some ‘cardio’ exercise, such as a fast walk, swim or cycle
  • A light gym session that could focus on key sites of injury prevention or continued re-hab work
  • Play another sport that isn’t too physically demanding
  • The key is to keep intensity and volume relatively low, but enough for a slight elevation in heart and breathing rate.
  • You should also include some stretching following your chosen activity.

We will provide some more detailed nutritional information in a later post; however, here are a couple of tips to follow for now when trying to recover from sport:

  • Keep your hydration levels high

  • Eat nutritionally balanced diet (for the most part, although there may be a few ‘treats’ thrown in as a reward).

The above methods should be considered ‘acute’ recovery strategies. In order to ensure your athletes are in the best possible shape on a weekly basis requires forward planning. This relates directly to the previous post, and getting an understanding for the level of your sessions, but also requires some thought on some basic periodisation principles, which can be discussed at a later date.

Watch the video below from BBC Sport see how the English Premier League champions Manchester City have used sports science to aid their recovery strategies.

I hope you find this information useful, and are able to encourage your players to take a little bit more care of themselves so you can improve and progress as a team.


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