7 Things Every Athlete Should Do pt. 5 - Nutrition and Recovery

Here's what you need to know

  • Every athlete needs to take recovery seriously. Life outside of the practice and the gym is much more important then any kind of training.
  • Stress is real and it has real affects. No athlete is immune to it.
  • Sleeping at least 7 hours a night should be non negotiable. 
  • A proper diet will ensure adequate and vital nutrient intake.
  • Abide by the 90/10 rule in regards to nutrition.

Upon wrapping up this 5 week series I was trying to decide how to go about separating these two topics. The more I thought about it, the more I realized; they shouldn't be separated. 

Nutrition, while it can be a stand alone topic, also plays a huge part towards recovery. You can't really talk about one without at least thinking of the other. It would be like discussing peanut butter without jelly even being in the back of your mind. It just won't happen.

I know it's probably a cop out to do this, but I am making Recovery and Nutrition tied for the number 1 thing every athlete should do.

If you've missed the previous posts, I implore you to do a bit of perusin'.

Part 1 - From 60 to 0mph in No Time Flat

Part 2 - Building the Backside

Part 3 - Lunges not Lungs

Part 4 - Aerobics??

Truth is recovery and nutrition need to be a priority. Sadly, for many athletes, both of these fall out of their top 5 priorities. In fact, for many people both of these never really become a priority until they become a necessity. That just shouldn't be.

If you want to see how serious the nationally renowned and dominant Defensive End JJ Watt takes his recovery watch this quick video;

Part of the problem is the true complexity of it all. Recovery is a multifaceted word, and there really is a lot that it entails. However, I want to make this as simple as possible. In regards to recovery these are the things athletes, especially young athletes, should focus on most; nutrition, sleep, and stress management. 

I know that foam rolling has been a hot topic of late, and it is helpful, but I think that we sometimes prescribe it so much, and it's really something that needs time to properly teach. We do have a blog you can check out, if you want to learn more though. Check it out here.

In regards to sleep, not enough athletes do it. I can count on my hand how many athletes consistently sleep at least 7 hours a night. Sleep is for the nervous system even more then it is for the body. When our nervous system is fresh and we are more alert, our body will function better. It's that simple. And yet too many people tell me they "get by" with 4 hours a night. They even wear it as a badge of honor, when the truth is they're missing the meaning of the words "get by". As an athlete it's important to ask yourself, "do I want to 'get by' or do I want to dominate?"

Some tips for better sleep include; blacking out your room, having a white noise machine, no electronics at least an hour before, do some easy reading. Most importantly get into a consistent routine that helps you unwind.

Along with sleep an often overlooked aspect of recovery is that of stress. Stress is necessary for adaptation. However, if you don't manage your stress then eventually you're not going to be able to adapt as quickly as you like. Stress can have seriously damaging effects if it is not managed well. 

Sleep definitely helps with stress management but some other methods I like include; meditation, journaling, foam rolling and various breathing techniques.

To get a clearer picture of the effects of stress I invite you to check out the below link.

 Wellness Wednesday - Managing Your Stress

Going back to that video of JJ Watt one thing he brings up his giving his body the "right fuel". For an athlete your body is your most precious commodity. 

Did you see Floyd Mayweather's new car? 4.8 million dollars... That's some serious pocket change. If you had that kind of car you wouldn't dare put in the wrong type of oil or gasoline, right? Then why is it that so many athlete's insist on just eating whatever they want? 

To a certain extent for athletes looking to gain weight you do need to eat a lot of calories. But also make sure that you're getting plenty of micronutrients too.

Upon reading this post I hope you see that the big rocks of recovery focus on what goes on inside our body more then what happens outside of it. I am by no means saying that you should neglect proper movement and training. What I am saying is this; don't get so focused on the mirror and the video of the performance that you forget about engine that's driving you. I'll say it again, the body is an athlete's most precious commodity don't treat it like junk.

- Dave