Take some tips from college and pro athletes – eat, sleep, and drink to be happy.
You’ve seen them: on the field or the court, running, sweating, passing, catching – winning, or not, but giving their all in a way that seems superhuman. Or, at the very least, super.
How is it young athletes can push themselves to exhaustion like that game after game after game, and still be ready to do it again for the next one? And, most importantly, (admit it, we’re all a little selfish) what can we learn from them that will up our own game?
A key component, says Dr. Lee Kaplan, director of University of Miami Sports Medicine Institute and medical director for both the University of Miami Athletic Department and the Miami Marlins, is what might be thought of as athletic, focused, TLC.
That, for example, is what the ‘Canes do.
“It really starts immediately after the game the previous week,” he says. “There's a significant amount of attention paid on the recovery process of your body.”
Basically, it’s about the proper care and feeding of your beat up, tuckered out, strained, stretched, and stressed body. And it doesn’t matter if you did it in the gym, on the links, the tennis court, Zumba class – or stretching for a game-winning end zone pass and getting clobbered by a 235-pound linebacker.
PLEASE, SOME ZZZZ’S
“It starts with sleep,” says Dr. Kaplan. “Sleep is one of your best recovery solutions because it's going to increase many of the hormones required for the recovery of muscle and tissue injury that happens just from being in an athletic event.”
Even famed football coach Vince Lombardi understood the need.
“Fatigue makes cowards of us all,” he said.
Sleep has been shown to improve reaction time, reduce errors, reduce injury rates, and improve overall health.
“Hydration is critical as the next step,” says Dr. Kaplan.
Drinking water flushes out toxins, helps with muscular repair, and helps reduce soreness. (And who doesn’t want that?)
KNEAD ME, PLEASE
“We do a lot of stretching and massage work and work in the training room beginning on Sunday morning, focused on any of the overuse-type injuries or smaller, ankle-sprain kind of stuff,” says Dr. Kaplan.
So get out the foam roller, do some yoga, or just reach for the sky, buckaroo, with a nice static stretch.
“Lastly, but just as important as probably all of them is the food you put back in your body,” he says.
We’re talking proteins and “a lot of fruits and vegetables.”
But, he adds, keep it clean. That means “a healthier emphasis on non-processed foods.”
READY? RECOVERED? GO!
Athletes, of course, prioritize proper recovery. You should, too.
Whether your game is soccer, softball, CrossFit, or cross-country cycling, Dr. Kaplan says, “If you can get the right sleep, the right food, the right hydration, especially in this climate, that's helpful.”