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The 5 Best Ways Athletes Recover

This past week, I was able to sit down with Dr. Bill Sands and talk about many different subjects, but one of the most interesting was recovery! Dr. Sands is an expert in recovery, having written many papers on the subject, and having been the head of the Recovery Center at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

He broke down the 5 most important ways to recover and we love them! Here they are:


How cool is this! This is Stay Fueled and we talk about how important nutrition is, but to have the worlds leading expert in recovery tell us that Nutrition is the most important aspect to athlete recovery was AWESOME!

He said it’s essential to get that meal in directly after practicing. The most critical portion of the meal for athletes is carbohydrate replacement, followed by protein replacement, and a distant third is quality fats in the meal.

So, as we’ve been saying here for a long time, it’s critical to get a quality, well rounded meal after every practice. At Stay Fueled, we lay out a whole program for you to use with your family to make sure your young athletes get everything they need nutritionally. Click here if you want to get started with Stay Fueled!

2. Compression

Compression is best when used dynamically. This equipment is extremely expensive and most facilities do not have it. There is some great news though! Static compression is fairly affordable and works extremely well to help muscles recover and the body to be less sore.

I personally use the brand Skins. Here’s a link to compression clothing so you can check it out yourself: Compression Clothing on Amazon.

3. Cold Plunge

Dr. Sands did not recommend this technique for young children, but it’s great for athletes that are a little older. You can plunge your whole body, or just your legs. Whatever area you are having difficulty recovering with.

Remember, the same with icing, the water only needs to be 50-54 degrees F. Don’t freeze your athlete! This technique is also done in short bursts. Have your athlete go in the water for 2-4 minutes (if they start to shiver, they’ve been in too long), warm up, then re-plunge. Doing this 2-5 times is the recommended dose. Over time, the athletes bodies will adapt to this cold better, and it will be more tolerable for them.

4. Cool Down After Practice

A proper cool down is essential! This helps bring the bodies temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure back to normal levels. It also allows the muscles to move without causing more damage, thereby increasing lymph fluid movement. When cells are damaged through exercise and practice, the damaged tissue leaks out into the area between the cells. Lymph vesels return this fluid back to the circulatory system. Muscle movement and compression are two of the best ways to get the fluid in the lymphatic system moving.

Make sure your athlete spends 10-20 minutes after every practice, doing low impact, light exercise to allow their bodies to recover better.

5. Massage

Not a deep tissue massage after practice, rather a light, gentle rubbing. Rubbing toward the heart will also help to get the lymph fluid moving in the right direction!

This also doesn’t have to last hours! 5-10 minutes is perfect. If you’re going to do the massage and cold plunge, do the massage first and then the plunge.

Wrap Up

So there’s 5 great ways to recover for your athlete! If you want to check out the Bill Sands interview, check it out on the Gymnast Care Podcast on iTunes. (Stay Fueled Members had this interview before anyone else…perks of membership!)

Remember though, if your athlete is struggling to recover, YOU MUST LOOK AT NUTRITION FIRST! Dr. Sands was adamant about nutrition being most important.

Stay Fueled is affordable and amazing. It gives you and your athlete exactly what you need to take your athlete to the next level! Get started today for just $1. .