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Use these high-tech tactics from strength and conditioning coach Alan Temple-Jones and physiotherapist Hugh Everson to get back on the playing field – faster and fitter than ever before.
Pain principles – “We follow the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) principle after the matches to keep control of inflammation,” says Everson. “But watch out for ice-burn and cold blisters, because you can’t just put ice on skin for a long period.” His advice? Apply ice for up to 20 minutes per hour, as anything longer will be detrimental (and your physio will not be able to massage that area because of the cold burn). “To avoid ice on skin, wet a towel and put it into the freezer for a while to get cold or place crushed ice in a towel,” says Everson. And put down the beer, buddy. “If you have an injury, avoid alcohol. It will definitely delay recovery,” advises Everson. Heartbreaking news, but better for you in the long run.
Core issues – Once a week the Sevens guys do a thorough core session. Why? “Core work helps to reduce injuries by improving the stability of all the important joints and by increasing your proprioception skills – it’s all based on prehab,” says Temple- Jones.
Cold comfort – “Ice baths and contrast baths (hot and cold) are excellent for training and game recovery,” says Everson. “If you don’t have ice baths, you can use swimming pools in winter.” Even if you’re stiff from weight training, a cold bath can help your muscles to recover before your next session.
Keep it functional – “Our weight training is all about functionality: Olympic lifting, plyometrics, general strength training and some unconventional techniques, like power ropes and wrestling,” says Temple-Jones. “We try do lots of compound movements and drop sets that mimic the same movements the guys are doing on the field.” The lesson: examine your chosen sport or activity, and decide on training moves that mimic your sport’s movements. “We also need to make these players as effective as possible for their body weight in a one-on-one situation – it’s not like a 15-man ruck. Here, in many of the cases, the work is done by one player.” These players may not be the biggest on the field, but they have very good power to weight ratio. You can improve your own ratio by using the Sevens gym workout poster that comes with this issue.
Keep it tight – “Even though there is not much research on compression, we still encourage it for all the players. Even if the benefit is a placebo, we still want the benefit,” says Temple-Jones. You heard the man, invest in a few quality compression garments.
Sunday is not just for rest – If Saturday is your match day (or if it’s your long run, ride or kayak day), schedule some active recovery work for Sunday. Everson believes that when it comes to recovery it’s always better to do something rather than nothing. So jump in the pool for a few lazy laps or, even better, stretch your problem areas. “You need to enforce stretching routines to combat Delayed Onset Muscle Stiffness (DOMS), which is always worse two days later,” says Everson.
Mix it up after training – To get the best muscle recovery, consume a protein and carb mix straight after your training session. “We did a study with Professor Andrew Bosch of SSISA three years ago where we found the optimal balance for recovery is 1.5g carbs and 0.5g protein per kilogram of body weight,” says Temple-Jones.