Tips For Recovery and Injury Prevention
We’ve teamed up with Cavan LGFA and Collingwood AFL player Aishling Sheridan who is also a Certified Athletic Therapist & Trainer, Online Personal Trainer & Nutrition coach to help you with your recovery and injury prevention.
Aishling has a degree in Athletic Therapy and Training while playing a key role for Cavan LGFA down through the years. More recently Aishling did an impressive stint playing in the Australian Football League for Collingwood AFL where they made it to the final stages with Aishling also winning WAFL best first year player. She’s back playing with Cavan for the 2020 LGFA Winter season but will be looking to make a return to Australian football for a promising 2nd season.
Aishling certainly is familiar with training at a high level and has the degree and knowledge to aid her in getting the best results out of herself. We thought, as you may not be able to seek your coaches or physio’s advice as much as you’d like to, it would be good for Aishling to go through some tips on how to recover properly and prevent injury.
Do you ever find you’re constantly sore and tired after training or doing a workout or you’re always picking up niggles here and there and can’t understand why?
Below are some mistakes I made in the past when training and playing that might be off some help to you or even to a friend.
I can’t emphasis enough how important recovery is when it comes to playing sports, lifting weights, going for a run and any exercise in general. If you find you don’t seem to recover as well as others below are some reasons which may be causing this:
I can’t stress how important nutrition is for recovery. Protein and carbohydrates will play a massive part in your recovery. Post exercise your meal should include at least (50-100g or 1-1.5g per kg/bw) of carbohydrates as this will help replenish muscle fuel stores. 20-40g or 0.3-0.6g per kg/bw of protein should also be included into this meal to help promote muscle growth and repair any tissue damage. If you’re on the go and don’t have time to make something, try pack a protein bar, protein shake or even chocolate milk as these can be quite handy till you get home to get a meal into you.
What you consume throughout the day will also play a vital part so I would recommend starting off with a well-balanced diet, add a protein source to every meal and don’t avoid any food group. If you want to be more specific you can find out how much you should actually be eating and work from there. I found this the most beneficial for me as I actually wasn’t eating enough food to help my recovery but also to fuel my performance. I always felt sore and tired and could never understand why until I started fueling my training.
Sleep is probably the most important factor when it comes to recovering from any sort of exercise and training. Sleep has important physiological and cognitive functions and lack of sleep has can have an effect on sub maximal, prolonged exercise. Everyone’s sleep schedule is completely different but here are some tips to ensure you are getting the best out of your sleep schedule.
- Make sleep a priority in your training schedule. Just like you track your weights session or running session make sure you track your sleep.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day. Find yourself a routine that suits you. If certain times you have to be up later, make sure you account for this and get to bed earlier if needs be.
- Take daily naps if you don’t get enough sleep at night. I used to be sceptical about taking naps, more so as I felt less productive. I even remember one time I was injured, and it was in the lead up to our college football finals, from chatting to my physio he advised me to take naps to let my body recover and heal and it definitely helped. Especially as it was my final year and carrying extra stress it gave my body time to switch off for 20-30 minutes. Also, if you think of any of the elite athletes out there and their environments, they actually have areas where they train to allow them to get naps in.
- Don’t worry if you have one bad night of sleep, try to rectify it the next night.
A sensation of thirst indicates that you are already more than 1% dehydrated. This subsequently leads to a decrease in performance. If you’re trying to figure out do you drink enough water, then here you go: You should aim to drink at least 1 litre per 25kg body weight. So, if someone is 70kg they should be drinking at least 2.8litres, not including if they exercise. If you exercise you need to add 500ml on top of this per one hour of training a day. With exercise comes sweat and fluid loss, this is where it can really affect our recovery. You want to aim to replace the fluid you lost by 150%. If you don’t know how much fluid you lost when you exercise you can simply weigh yourself pre and post exercise. This was very big when I was playing and training in Australia as the heat led to excess sweat and therefore fluid loss. It was part of our schedule every training and game session to record how much fluid we lost and replace it as soon as we could with water and electrolytes.
These are all simple methods which you can do yourself and monitor yourself to ensure you are recovery from your exercise. Another factor is rest days which I will touch on below. Trust me it will make a massive difference once you are aware of it and put it into practice.
The next part I’m going to discuss is injury prevention. Now don’t get me wrong it is impossible to fully prevent any injury from happening but there are methods we can put in place to try minimising the chances of getting injured.
Years ago, especially when it came to going for a run or even doing a gym session, I didn’t put time into doing a warmup. It was different with football as warms up were always included but if I was training on my own, I just wanted to get it done as soon as I could. Yep, I was wrong!! The warm up should gently prepare your body for exercises by gradually increasing your heart rate and circulation; this will help loosen the joints and increase blood flow throughout the muscles. Find something that helps you and the area you are training. If you’re in the gym and you’re getting ready to do a heavy squat, don’t just go straight in, do some warmup sets and build yourself up to that heavy weight. This applies to really all the heavy primary exercises. If you’re going to do some sprints or going for a run, don’t just go straight into it. Make sure you do some strides, stretches, changes of pace and ease yourself into your running. Also, another easy mistake, if you’re going up to practice kicking the ball and take shots, take it as your usual football session, complete a warm up, get your hamstrings ready and practice short kicking before you go full tilt on long distance.
Incorrect technique is definitely one area especially when it comes to lifting which can lead to injury. Often people lift too heavy than what they are able for, don’t fully understand the exercise or are too afraid to ask for help which leads to incorrect technique and therefore the risk of injury. Don’t be afraid to ask someone for help or even record yourself performing the exercise so you can fully see you completing it correctly. This applies for running, lifting weights and really any exercise that suits you. Ensure you have the correct technique, even though it might not be affecting you now it may come around in the future.
You might not think this is important but in fact it can play a part in helping minimise the chances of sustaining an injury. Especially if you do a lot of running, correct footwear is so important for this. I used to wear any runners when going for a run on a hard surface and always found my joints ached after it and I always felt like I kept experiencing shin splints. It was until I realised, I needed runners with shock absorbers and support that I actually realised what may be causing this. The same thing applied when I was doing HIIT circuits as there is that high impact force.
When it comes to gymming, I found that I didn’t need as much support and more so a rigid heel so I could put my force through it as it provides more stability when lifting weights. Its why you probably see people in specialised weightlifting shoes, like every sport, there is specific necessities for it.
Intersport Elverys have a blog on this on How To Shop Running Shoes online. The shoes Aishling is featured in are the Nike SuperRep PRO which are a perfect training shoe suitable for fast paced exercises.
Listen to your body:
This applies for both recovery and injury prevention. Over training can be detrimental when it comes to your performance but also for your body’s ability to recover and heal. It’s something a lot of us go through especially if we have a goal in mind, but it can actually delay your chances of reaching that goal. My tips would be to schedule at least one rest day a week, listen to your body, if it’s still showing signs that it’s tired or sore then take additional rest. If you have a big match, training or you complete a tough session, make sure you are getting rest and recovery in.
Another thing I found are the years was suffering ‘niggle’ when training and trying to ignore it or train through it, or not giving it enough time to recover. When in the long run it actually has affected me more and led to bigger injuries than if I had taking a few days to let it heal. This is why it is so important to listen to your body, if it is showing signs that it is tired, sore or unable to perform to the best of its ability there’s a good chance your recovery needs work. And you need to look at your training.
Again, these are all mistakes I have made in the past and I’m sure others have too, the important thing is you identify them and try prevent them from occurring.