The Four Most Underrated Recovery Tools
Your recovery does not have to be expensive if you want to play consistently at an elite level. Chasing technology to optimize your recovery without having the fundamentals down pat is counterproductive, and it can negatively affect your progress.
Here are the four most underrated recovery tools to bounce back from games and tournaments.
Sleep – Nutrition – Massage – Epsom Salt bath
Much evidence has shown the positive impact of sleep and how athletes must take it seriously to prevent decreased athletic performance and mental sharpness. Specifically for basketball, Stanford University found that 10 hours of sleep for NCAA basketball players improve:
- Acceleration in both half-court & full-court sprints
- Shooting accuracy for free throw & three-point shots (9% & 9.2%, respectively)
- Reaction time & Alertness
Since most student-athletes sleep on average 6 hours, you will experience these improvements if you extend your sleep from 8 to 10 hours as recommended by experts. To optimize the quality of your sleep, make sure that:
- Your room is dark and cool with little to no light and noise.
- You stay away from electronics one hour before bedtime.
- You consistently go to bed at the same time every night.
- After sundown, wear blue light blocking glasses to better prepare you for quality sleep.
Nutrition has an essential role in your athletic performance; you must be thoughtful about how you fuel your body if you want to play well consistently. Stepping up your nutrition habits will:
- Increase your power & strength
- Increase your energy to withstand the demands of training and competition
- Help you recover faster, which will make you less susceptible to injuries
- Improve your mobility & flexibility
- Improve your mental focus
The common issues with basketball players are how stiff they become and the lack of energy from eating junk food regularly since it does not have the required nutrients to adequately fuel their bodies. For an optimal fuel that will promote recovery, make sure you:
- Eat quality protein with each meal
- Eat a snack fueled with protein and carbs in between games
- Eat breakfast to kickstart your day
- Eat soon after training
- Have vegetables with every meal
- Stay well hydrated with water & electrolytes
Only after you have built the habit of following these fundamentals, you could consider buying supplements.
Massage is a crucial method to add to your strategies to manage muscle stiffness and promote optimal posture and facilitate recovery. You have the option to:
- Follow a routine using massage tools (ex: foam roller, lacrosse ball, peanut ball, etc.)
- Set an appointment with an Physical/Athletic Therapist who can properly assess your limitations, apply myofascial release and recommend exercises based on your specific needs to prevent recurring issues.
The common areas you may feel tightness as a basketball player are:
- Lattissimus dorsi (Back Muscles)
- Pectoralis Minor & Major (Chest Muscles)
Thus, make sure you stretch these overactive muscles after your massage for optimal posture & recovery.
Epsom Salt Bath
An inexpensive strategy to optimize your recovery at night is taking a hot bath with a cup of dissolved Epsom salt for 15-20 minutes. Epsom Salt is composed of magnesium and sulphate, which are minerals that:
- Reduce muscle soreness
- Help relieve pain
- Promote sleep and stress reduction
You should take an Epsom Salt bath after intense practices/games or tournaments in which you must play back-to-back games.
To play consistently at an elite level, you want to be disciplined with your recovery as much as you are with your basketball training. Putting all of the above recovery strategies together will ensure you remain game-ready all year.