Who are the only two people who are undefeated and will remain that way for the rest of eternity in sports? Father Time and Injuries. There is not much that we can do about Father Time. We are all getting older. However, we have much more control over injuries than we realize. No doubt collision injuries are impossible to avoid. However, non-contact injuries, like Derick Rose’s knee injury, should not occur when we have such supposedly “advanced” sports training. Derick Rose was all by himself and no one hit him or threw him off balance. I completely blame the stupidity of Tom Thibodeau and the Bull Training Staff for ruining his career.
However, I digress. Unfortunately the vast majority of injuries that still occur today are 100% preventable. They are a plethora of aspects of sports training that go on today that are wrong and I will discuss them in future posts. However, the number one factor from my personal experience and experience from coaching many athletes that leads to preventable injury is fatigue. You might think we just need to reduce the workload placed on the athletes. In an ideal world this would work. However, sometimes it just can not be done.
The problem is under recovery. As I mentioned in a previous post (Read More: Where do you get better at your sport?) you do NOT get better during your training but while you recover. Too many athletes think that once they leave the court pitch or gym that all their work is done. Their work is just beginning. Being the best athlete requires a 24/7 commitment to being the best that you can be because all facets of your life can dramatically effect your performance.
So what is a modality that you can use to drastically boost your recovery in a short time period? Contrast Therapy. It is used by many NBA, NHL, NFL, and Olympic athletes. It is quite simple. You alternate between bouts of hot and cold temperatures. This causes a drastic increase in circulation, which helps flush out toxins from your body, and reinvigorates the soul.
I was reminded of the power of contrast therapy last weekend. While on a family trip to Whistler, I got the wonderful opportunity to visit the Scandinave Spa. During my time at the spa I learned of an important aspect I was neglecting from my contrast therapy routine. I was not having a relaxation period in between the bouts of hot and cold so my body could reach a state of homeostasis. The protocol they recommended was:
- 10-15 minutes to heat up your body (Jacuzzi, Hot Salt Bath, Sauna, or Steam Room)
- 30 seconds to 2 minutes of cold (Very Cold Shower or Ice Bath)
- 10-15 minutes of relaxation at room temperature to allow your body to reach homeostasis.
But what if you do not have access to “fancy” spa facilities like a sauna or jacuzzi (although I would argue these are much more common now than people realize)? You can use a shower and get almost all the benefits. However, when in the shower the protocol changes slightly as you are unable to take a 10-15 minute break between bouts of hot and cold to reach homeostasis. What I recommend is:
- Spend 2 minutes in as hot as water as you can handle. If you have a stationary shower head, try to move around so that the water reaches all parts of your body. If you have a “moveable” head, you can direct the water to the areas that are in most need of repair.
- Then as quickly as possible switch to as cold as you can handle. Remain under the cold water for at least one minute, and repeat as many times as desired. I recommend you repeat this sequence at least twice and no more than five times.
Contrast therapy will make you feel instantly better after a grueling workout. However, its not only enhances recovery but also your health as well. Its great for the circulatory system, and flushing out toxins from your lymph system. On top of that it invigorates the soul, as the shock of switching between temperatures makes you feel alive and will make you feel joyous.
Be Happy and Chase your Dreams,
PS Here are a couple of ways to connect with me if you have any questions or have any specific topics you would like me to address.