How Contrast Therapy can keep you injury free and boost your health

This is how many elite athletes feel. I know I did while competing for BU. But are we really helping ourselves out following the maxim no pain no game. Absolutely not. A paradigm shift is needed in strength and conditioning.

This is how many elite athletes feel. I know I did while competing for BU. But are we really helping ourselves out by following the maxim no pain no gain. Absolutely not! A paradigm shift is needed in strength and conditioning.

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.

There is no excuse for why D Rose suffered such a traumatic injury in a game with no contact. The major driving factor was most likely fatigue. The game was over, Tom Thibodeau should have had him out of the game.

There is no excuse for why D Rose suffered such a traumatic injury in a game with no contact. The major driving factor was most likely fatigue. The game was over, Tom Thibodeau should have taken him out of the game.

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.

Who says that recovery can not be awe-inspiring and intensely pleasurable. My time at the Scandinave Spa was one of the most enjoyable experiences in my life.

Who says that recovery can not be awe-inspiring and intensely pleasurable. My time at the Scandinave Spa was one of the most enjoyable experiences in my life.

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:

  1. 10-15 minutes to heat up your body (Jacuzzi, Hot Salt Bath, Sauna, or Steam Room)
  2. 30 seconds to 2 minutes of cold (Very Cold Shower or Ice Bath)
  3. 10-15 minutes of relaxation at room temperature to allow your body to reach homeostasis.
Not having access to a

Not having access to a “spa facilities” is no reason to not incorporate contrast therapy into your daily regiment.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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,

Pavan Mehat

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.

Pavan Mehat’s LinkedIn

Pavan Mehat’s Instagram

Advertisements

Sports Science Lab’s Foot Strengthening Exercises – Stronger Platform, Stronger Athlete!

It’s rare to find exercises that are completely new, even to athletes that have competed at the professional level.  But Sports Science Lab has done just that.  Listing professional football, volleyball, hockey, baseball players, along with gymnasts, martial artists (including legend Georges St. Pierre, pictured above), boxers and olympians as clients, their California studio attracts athletes looking to get better or return from injury.  They look at the body as a whole, focusing training on the central nervous system (essential to speed and power) and proper body mechanics.  One of my favorite parts of their training regimen is that they start every athlete off by working on the FEET – the video above explains why.  Below are specific examples of exercises – for equipment, the home depot will sell similar pipes pre-cut for maybe $5-6 each, and you can buy the wood to make the slant board there as well, covering it in skateboard (or stair) grip tape, glueing together with wood glue.  Likewise, you can buy the poles that they like to use for balance, or you can use long sticks from a home improvement store and cut them, costing less than $1, though you may surprise yourself in how quickly you will no longer need them for balance.

Inward/Outward Pipes

Perpendicular Pipes

Pipe Walks

Slant Board

Ankle Series on Instability Discs

I personally use the pipe exercises often – I find them great for balance, opening up the foot’s many (33!) joints, and once you do them without using poles for balance, they are great for promoting postural alignment.  I have also found that the slant board exercises allow my feet to take more of the strain when moving laterally, versus my ankles feeling it – if you do not have enough movement in the joints of your feet, another joint must move extra to compensate for this.  This is one of the reasons why you see more knee injuries in athletes that wear heavy ankle braces – the subject of a post later this week!