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by Anna Segal, photography by Spencer Watson
As an athlete, it’s taken me some time to get my post sport recovery ritual dialled. As a younger athlete I didn’t quite understand the role recovery played in my performance. However, I’ve come to discover that what you do after a big day of training is one of the most important factors of improving as an athlete. If your body and mind isn’t recovering well, you limit the amount you can train and your level of performance. I’m going to share with you my go-to recovery ritual, which I try my best to stick to after a big and strenuous day in the mountains.1. Hydrate
When I’m skiing I often find it hard to drink enough water throughout the day. Which is why ensuring that I hydrate properly when I’m finished is especially important. My trick - I leave a 1-litre bottle of water in my car and a packet of Ener-C Sport Electrolytes – ready to drink when I make it back to the vehicle! Adding electrolytes helps to replenish mineral losses that occur from sweating, but they also help the body retain the fluids that you are drinking, and help prevent cramping.
For me, this is the easiest step in my recovery routine – I love to eat. Yet, I do know many people that find it hard to eat when they are overtired. If this is you, don’t skip your post training meal! You need to replenish your body. What I do struggle with is ensuring I make myself a healthy and balanced meal when I am fatigued. It’s easy to grab whatever is in front of you. However, making a small effort for nutrition will pay off the next day. A few of my go-to quick and healthy meals:
You will obviously need a bathtub for this one! But after that, it’s simple. Fill with warm/ hot water, jump in and relax for twenty minutes. I like adding Epsom salts – there is some evidence that the magnesium sulphate compound helps muscle recovery. This may or may not be true, but give it a try. What I can certify is true is the warm water will help relax tight muscles before stretching. Plus, taking 20 minutes out of your daily life to float in the bath will help you switch off your brain before bed.
4. Stretch/ Roll
I find stretching for recovery most effective after a hot/ warm bath or shower, when your muscles are most relaxed. While you may be sleepy and ready for bed, just pledge to yourself a 5-minute stretch. Chances are it will feel great and you will stay at it for longer. In the evenings I try to hold my stretches for 1 – 3 minutes. This will allow not only your muscles to feel the benefits, but it will also stretch your fascia (the body’s connective tissue that wraps around and encases your muscles, ligaments, bones, and organs).
For me, sleep is the most important recovery tool of all. I think many of us have learned to get by with less than ideal amounts of sleep, but most often this leads to underperformance. Our bodies like routine. So, rather than just trying to get that elusive 8 hours of sleep before a big day of physical activity, train yourself to get this amount of sleep on the regular. I have found that when I put too much emphasis on getting “lots of sleep” on one particular night, I end up stressing about it and getting no sleep at all. Yet, when I have a routine of going to bed at 10pm and waking up at 6am everyday, my mind feels soothed by the consistency.
Anna Segal is a professional freestyle skier and former Olympic athlete who makes her home in beautiful Pemberton, BC.