Suggested benefits of compression garments (2XU)
Based on current research findings, listed below are potential areas where a competitive advantage may be gained through the use of compression garments:
In conclusion, according to the literature, compression garments may offer several ergogenic benefits for athletes across a multitude of sporting backgrounds. In particular, some studies have reported that compression garments can improve muscular power, strength, enhance recovery following intense exercise and improve proprioception. However, caution should be taken when choosing the correct compression garment for your sport and ensuring the garment provides enough pressure to promote venous return.
Suggested routine post-match recovery strategy
Below we have listed basic recovery practices that can be completed by a team participating at any level. This routine has been structured so that the body can be rehydrated, energy stores can be replenished and muscle can be repaired at an improved rate.
1. Start drinking cool carbohydrate/sports drinks immediately on entering the change rooms. This should continue throughout the recovery session.
2. Have carbohydrate-protein snacks readily available for consumption (for example, meal supplement drinks, sports bars, salad and meat sandwiches).
3. Five-minute walk/jog/stretch routine as soon as practical after the players return to the change rooms.
4. Fifteen-minute recovery circuit, alternating between contrast and active groups:
a) contrast: hot shower (37-43 oC)/ice bath (12-15 oC). Hot/cold contrasts should be completed at a ratio of 3:1 (hot:cold)
b) active: bike/walk/stretch at low intensity
c) groups to rotate after approximately six minutes
d) all players finish with a two-minute ice bath (12-15 oC).
5. Have athletes bring food packs for post-match and have them consume this before leaving after a match.
6. Ensure that the post-game meal consists of carbohydrates that have a high glycaemic index.
7. A post-game meal (that is, two to three hours post-game) should consist of high glycaemic index carbohydrates. Some good examples of these dishes are rice dishes, pasta and/or white bread with protein (for example, meat, chicken, etc.).
8. Some athletes have difficulty eating soon after matches, therefore a meal replacement drink (for example, Sustagen or Protein Plus) can be useful.
Psychological considerations in recovery
Under-recovery or poor recovery can contribute to stress, staleness and burnout. Athletes must be well versed in a variety of recovery techniques and be diligent about applying them. Recovery strategies include regeneration (physical repair), physiological and behavioural strategies (for example, icing, relaxing, etc.), and some coping responses (for example, debriefing). Increased physical, mental and/or emotional demands and stressors on the athlete require greater recovery. Athletes' training programs may need to be adjusted to allow for a greater emphasis on recovery during periods of increased training or personal stress. The psychological gains from good recovery practices include increased motivation, a sense of well-being and the reduction of training and/or life stress.
More psychological benefits are listed under the various recovery strategies below. While these strategies are by no means exhaustive, they offer a range of options that are frequently used by athletes in enhancing their recovery.
Most athletes understand the benefit of an appropriate warm-up before training and competition, yet many fail to recognise the importance of a cool-down. Gradually slowing down the intensity of exercise for 5-15 minutes at the end of a session, followed by static stretching for 5-10 minutes after the cool-down, will help to remove waste products from muscles and reduce post-exercise muscle soreness, while helping the body to return to the resting state gradually. The cool-down period also allows time to think about the training/event and begin the debriefing process.
Proper hydration - during preparation, competition and training - will improve athletic performance, reduce the potential for thermal injury and speed the rate of recovery. Studies have demonstrated that athletes typically replace only about 50 per cent of their sweat loss, and thus often undertake subsequent training sessions in a dehydrated state.
Individual 'hydration profiles' can highlight athletes who are at risk of dehydration due to poor fluid consumption and/or high sweat rates:
Contrast therapies (hot spa or shower/cold plunge pool or shower) exposes the body to alternating hot and cold-water environments, enhancing recovery by increasing blood flow through alternating vasoconstriction and vasodilation. This improves waste removal and nutrient delivery ath the faster rate. Contrast therapy often results in the athlete feeling refreshed and alert after a hard session, which also helps them to prepare for subsequent sessions.
The recommended protocol for contrast therapy is:
Athletes should avoid contrast therapy if they have illnesses, open wounds, acute injuries, or serious bruising (Halson et al. 2004).
Pool sessions can be used for active recovery techniques such as range of motion exercises and lap swimming, and passive recovery techniques such as stretching. Sessions are best conducted in a warm pool (approximately 28C) (Calder 2000)
Massage after hard sessions/games can help to facilitate recovery by minimising the effects of fatigue, reducing muscle tension, and lowering stress levels. It increases blood circulation in localised areas and the mechanical warming and stretching of soft tissues provides temporary flexibility gains (Calder 2000). Massage also enhances relaxation and promotes a sense of well being within the athlete.
Exercise depletes the body's stored form of CHO (glycogen) in the liver, muscles and other energy reserves (that is, lean body mass and fat). Eating a high-carbohydrate/ moderate-protein snack within 30 minutes after exercise helps to replenish muscle glycogen. It also has protective benefits for the immune system, as well as promoting rapid synthesis of protein for muscle repair (Burke 2001).
Athletes should eat immediately (or within 20 minutes) after exercise. Moderate to high glycemic index (GI) foods are the best choice (for example, fruit, fruit juice, muesli, breakfast bars or bread). A snack containing 15-50g of CHO should be sufficient until the next meal. For competitions involving continuous aerobic activity for more than two or three hours (for example, cycling, triathlon, marathon or cross-country skiing), athletes should consume 50-100g CHO (1g CHO/kg BM) immediately afterwards and then repeat the same amount after two hours or until normal meal patterns are resumed. A moderate amount of protein (10-20g) should be included in the after-exercise snack (Burke and Deakin 2000).
To maximise performance, all athletes should be encouraged to obtain the range of antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables through their daily food and fluid intake.
Rasmussen, M et al Determinants of fruit and vegetable consumption among children and adolescents: a review of the literature. Part 1: quantitative studies. International Journal of Behaviour Nutrition and Physical Activity,11;3:22, 2006.
Timing of carbohydrate intake
Always consult with your nutritionist/psychologist first to get the best individualised advice.
Individual tolerance and competition schedule dictate the ideal timing for the pre-event meal. General guidelines suggest a meal or series of snacks should be consumed 1-4 hours prior to exercise. The longer time frame allows carbohydrate intake to contribute to liver and muscle glycogen stores. However, early morning events often mean a shorter time frame is more practical. A small proportion of athletes respond negatively when carbohydrate is consumed close (within one hour) to exercise. An exaggerated carbohydrate oxidation and subsequent decrease in blood glucose concentration at the start of exercise can cause symptoms of hypoglycaemia, including fatigue.
The exact cause is unknown but useful strategies for these athletes may be to allow longer between eating and exercise, consume a substantial amount of carbohydrate in the pre-event snack (more than 1g per kilogram body mass or ~ 70g for the typical athlete) and include low-glycaemic index (GI) foods in the pre-event meal. Athletes who experience gastrointestinal problems during exercise may also benefit from allowing a longer period of time between eating and exercise.
Amount of carbohydrate
Research suggests that endurance performance is improved when athletes consume a substantial amount of carbohydrate (200-300g) in the 2-4 hours before exercise. This is achievable when events are held later in the day but is not always practical before early morning events. In many situations athletes must settle for a smaller meal or snack before the event, then make up for lower than recommended carbohydrate intakes by consuming carbohydrate during the event.
Type of food
The carbohydrate foods most suited to pre-exercise eating are low-fat, low-fibre and low to moderate in protein; these are less likely to cause gastrointestinal upset. Liquid meal supplements (such as PowerBar ProteinPlus Powder Drink) or carbohydrate-containing sports bars (such as PowerBar Performance Bar) can be useful for athletes who suffer from pre-event nerves or have an unpredictable pre-event timetable.
Consuming low-GI foods has been proposed as a clever pre-event strategy for endurance events. GI is a measure of the blood glucose response following ingestion of carbohydrate-containing foods. Foods with a high GI are digested and absorbed more rapidly by the body, delivering glucose quickly into the bloodstream. Foods with a low GI are digested and absorbed more slowly, resulting in a gradual release of glucose. It is thought that low-GI foods might reduce the sudden increase in blood glucose levels prior to an event, and prevent the subsequent drop in blood glucose once exercise commences. In addition, a low-GI pre-event meal might provide a continued supply during the exercise session.
In general, studies have failed to show a universal benefit to performance from consuming low-GI foods prior to exercise. When carbohydrate is consumed during exercise according to sports nutrition guidelines, any effect of consuming low-GI foods in the pre-event meal is negated. When fuel cannot be consumed during a prolonged exercise session, some athletes may derive benefits by consuming a low-GI pre-event meal. However, for most occasions, the athlete can choose the foods consumed in their pre-event meal based on personal preference, availability and gastrointestinal comfort.
Examples of low-GI foods (GI value <55)
Dehydration causes fatigue, impaired muscle endurance, reduced gastric emptying and impaired mental functioning. Fluid deficits as little as 2 per cent body mass may cause measurable impairments in performance, with the degree of impairment increasing directly in proportion to the fluid deficit. Even with model drinking practices, athletes find it difficult to keep pace with rates of fluid loss during exercise. A key strategy to minimise the effects of dehydration is to correct any fluid deficit before commencing exercise.
In normal circumstances, thirst is a sufficient stimulus for adequate fluid intake. However, when following a heavy training schedule, especially in challenging environmental conditions, athletes need to be more aggressive with fluid intake. Hyperhydration (with or without glycerol) may be warranted in some cases. This should always be planned and monitored with the aid of an experienced sports science professional.
Most athletes can tolerate a large amount of fluid immediately before exercise (about 5ml per kilogram of body weight or 300-400ml) and then adopt a pattern of consuming small, frequent amounts of fluid during exercise. While water is suitable for adequate hydration prior to shorter events, the use of sports drinks may assist in meeting both fluid and carbohydrate needs before longer events.
Suggestions for pre-event food and fluid intake two to four hours prior to exercise:
Sixty minutes prior to exercise:
Using a 'daily measures' training diary is another way to monitor the recovery process. Daily recordings encourage athletes to monitor and recognise their body's physiological and psychological responses to training, competition and life in general. Athletes should record resting heart rate, hours of sleep, energy levels, training quality and effort and general/overall feelings. These should be reviewed regularly to check adaptation to training.
Quality and quantity of sleep affect an athlete's ability to cope with, and recover from, hard training sessions. Sleep provides best recovery, regeneration and restoration of the body's systems to allow adaptation to training.
Using relaxation techniques can enhance an athlete's physiological recovery from competition. Athletes should be well-practised in progressive muscle relaxation (focusing on each muscle group one at a time and progressively relaxing the body, usually from toes to head), visualisation, meditation, and various breathing techniques.
Debriefing after a competition or training can be very helpful in dealing with the emotional and mental demands of competition. Athletes should mentally review the session, including how they felt and what they learned. This can be done with the aid of the sport psychologist or coach, but the athletes can also debrief themselves by analysing their performance and deciding what to focus on in their next session (Halson et al. 2004).
Other psychological techniques that may aid recovery
Adherence to appropriate recovery techniques will assist athletes to feel rested and refreshed after training or competition. These positive feelings enhance their psychological recovery and well-being, and help ensure they stay motivated to continue training and competing to the best of their ability.
Remember: preparation for next training session or competition starts at the end of the previous session - recovery is a vital ingredient in your athletes' next performance.
Please call us now on (03) 9885 8456 for your sports physiotherapist assessment and we will advise you how we can assist you to regain your pain free optimal functional movements.
Increasing muscle mass
Author: Gary Slater, Senior Sports Dietitian, Australian Institute of Sport
Bulking up can play an important role in the development of many athletes. For most athletes, the intention to bulk up or increase weight is a desire to increase muscle mass and strength. Few athletes intentionally plan to increase body fat. To ensure gains in muscle mass are prioritised, the combination of a well-designed training program plus an energy-rich diet with adequate protein is essential.
Increasing energy Intake
Increasing dietary energy intake (i.e. calories/kilojoules) is essential if significant gains in muscle mass are to be achieved. For some athletes this can be a real challenge. Frequent and/or prolonged training sessions can limit opportunities for meals and snacks while intense training can curb appetites. Novel strategies like an increased reliance on energy dense snacks and drinks may be required to overcome such obstacles.
Tips for increasing energy intake
While dietary protein needs of resistance-trained athletes are increased, the higher food intake of most athletes generally ensures a generous protein intake, usually well above requirements. Your focus must remain with increasing overall energy intake, not just protein. A specific protein supplement is typically not necessary.
Recent research indicates the timing of protein intake may be just as important as total protein intake over the day. Including a small serve of protein rich food at each meal and snack throughout the day may help to create an optimal environment for gains in muscle mass. This may be particularly true for meals/snacks taken before and after a weights session. Just a small amount of protein and carbohydrate taken before and after exercise (the combination of protein and carbohydrate results in better adaptations than either alone) further enhances protein building by increasing production of muscle building hormones, reducing protein breakdown and supplying amino acids for muscle building. If training is in the early morning, a pre-training snack is an excellent start to the day.
Athletes attempting to increase muscle mass are particularly vulnerable to the emotive marketing of supplements promoted to build muscle. Popular muscle building supplements include creatine, HMB, chromium, colostrum and individual amino acid supplements although new products arrive in the market place frequently. However, most of these products fail to live up to expectations and the scrutiny of scientific support. Liquid meal supplements may be an exception to the rule.
For individuals who struggle to increase energy intake, liquid meal supplements offer a degree of convenience and taste that may justify their cost. If you are in the market for a liquid meal supplement, source a product that is rich in carbohydrate, moderate in protein, low fat, fortified with vitamins and minerals, tasty and economical. Alternatively, home made shakes offer a similar nutrient profile at a fraction of the cost.
If gains in muscle mass are a priority, a muscle-building phase needs to be incorporated into the yearly training program. This might emphasize consistent allocation of resistance training sessions each week in conjunction with a decrease in overall training volume, especially conditioning sessions that can limit the potential for gains in muscle mass. The off-season is an ideal time to prioritise muscle mass gains. Support of a qualified strength and conditioning coach will assist in developing an effective training program.
Essential strategies for gaining muscle mass
Muscle building snack ideas for before and after training
Each snack provides at least 15 grams of protein and 35 grams of carbohydrate which recent research indicates is enough to promote protein building during exercise.