By Joe Mullins, M. Ed., ATC
It’s recreational league basketball night or church league softball game night. We’ve got our Lebron James’ headband and jersey on or we are supporting the Ken Griffey, Jr. forearm sweatbands. We enter the playing arena with the swagger of our yesteryear. All goes well as we ring up a triple double (that’s three double dribble calls) or go four for four at the plate (that’s four hotdogs at the concession stand since we didn’t eat lunch or dinner).
Then comes Monday morning… We claim we will never put ourselves through that again. We demand that it isn’t worth it. Yeah, right! All of us “I-still-think-I-am-eighteen” warriors will meet up again next week to do it all over again. But before we do go out next week to do it all over again, let’s take a moment to think if there is anything we can do to decrease those Monday morning doldrums…
We need to take into consideration one of the most essential aspects of exercise and physical training – the repair of muscles and cells in our bodies. Body parts that have just been exercised beyond their normal routines need time to recover. Professional athletes improve their performance by using Regeneration1. This is definitely one area that we Weekend Warriors need to imitate from our professional counterparts.
How is Regeneration performed? For the purpose of this article and due to the length of the program I will highlight a couple of the physical recovery techniques that will assist you in decreasing the soreness levels after a hard workout or after a long game. (For a complete copy of the Regeneration and recovery program log onto http://www.athletictrainingandconditioning.com/ and complete the "Contact Us" page.)
Two items are used with this program: 1) a foam roll and 2) an 8-foot long rope. The foam roll routine is like receiving a massage. It uses deep compression to massage out the muscle aches and spasms that can develop over a period of time. Increased blood flow, decreased muscle tension, and relaxed nerves are benefits from the foam roll routine (Fig. 1).
The rope is used to perform a stretching philosophy known as Active-Isolated Stretching (AIS). AIS stretching is performed after exercise when the muscles and other tissues are warmed up. The rope is used to secure your foot/ankle, for example, to stretch the back of your thigh (hamstrings) (Fig. 2). AIS stretching works on the principle of activating the opposite muscle from the one you are stretching so to cause the to be stretched muscle to relax. The rope is then used to gently assist the leg, in this example, to be raised higher.
In summary, Regeneration is important to assist your body in recovering from physical activity. By performing a Regeneration program after your normal exercise routine or game, you will be promoting recovery and relaxation for your body thereby decreasing those Monday morning aches and pains.
Fig. 1 A & B Hamstring foam roll
Fig. 2 AIS Hamstring stretch
Joe Mullins, M. Ed., ATC is Founder and Director of Athletic Training & Conditioning, Inc. He specializes in functional evaluations and works with athletes from middle school, high school, and college to professional and Olympic athletes. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about Joe Mullins and the services he provides can be found at http://www.athletictrainingandconditioning.com/.
Core Performance by Mark Verstegen and Pete Williams, St. Martin’s Press 2004