Inside The Super Rugby Camp: Tuesday Is Movesday
Tuesday is Movesday, a time to prep the body for what’s coming. “In the week between games, our recovery protocols take a wide variety of movements and techniques into consideration,” says Shaun du Toit, who is in charge of strength and conditioning at The Bulls. “Hot and cold baths, massages, eating properly – all of it plays a role. But we find that active recovery is much more effective than passive, even if it is low volume and at a relatively low intensity.”
Aerobic exercise can take many forms, from running to lifting. “Brisk walking, jogging, cycling and swimming will all enhance bloodflow to sore and tired muscles,” he says. “Plus, the increase in oxygen provision clears out metabolic waste. Some of the players do enjoy a proper stretching or yoga type session the day after a big game which they claim to have them feeling fresh and loosened up again – and a light, full-body weights session can have the same effect.”
“Every day in the week between games should have an element of movement, so the focus in the first few days after a match will be to start moving again, working towards the total load that needs to be completed before the next match,” says Stormers conditioning specialist, Stephan du Toit. “Exercise itself is not the problem; what matters is the exercise you are used to. Consistency is the key to proper muscle recovery, whereas acute spikes in training load will only increase the risk of soft tissue injuries.”
Stiffness leads to inflammation, and inflammation causes injury. One way to improve a player’s flexibility while flushing toxins, says Shaun du Toit, is through yoga. “Poor flexibility could definitely hinder performance – and worse, in some cases it can foster poor body mechanics and lead to injuries. Yoga could improve the player’s flexibility and lead to better movement, which can have a great many positive benefits on the field.”
Game Changer: Keep you head down
A rested player is a stronger, better, faster one. To recover during the day, put the work in at night.
“We have seen from wellness data that when sleep duration or quality decreases, a player’s mood worsens and his stress levels increases,” says Stephan du Toit. “Even though players may struggle to sleep in the week after a game, it must be a priority.” Flank Jaco Kriel agrees: “For me, sleep is the best recovery tactic there is. I try to get eight hours of sleep every night, and if I have time I’ll sleep in the afternoon as well. I also like to cram in a power nap in the last few hours before a game.” Rossouw confirms that “sleep probably plays the biggest role in recovery. We recommend that the guys sleep between seven and 10 hours a night, and prioritise an early night over a late morning, as the hours before midnight are the most beneficial.”
These lessons have made their way into Jesse Kriel’s mindset. “You can’t have enough sleep. It’s good for hormonal balance and mental wellbeing, and helps my muscles recover for training.” Stuggling to catch the Zs that rugby pros need to survive? Try these 3 tips:
1. Score a Perfect 10
Ten hours of sleep a night can help performance. Not sleeping? Just lie there. You’ll sleep more if you stay in bed.
2. Lock in Bedtime
Inconsistency in your bedtimes creates a kind of jet lag. Set an alarm to mark your bedtime, and stick to it.
3. Block Blue Light
Blue light from screens suppresses production of melatonin, the “drowsy hormone”.
Click on each link for a detailed description of what the Super Rugby athletes do to recover and prepare mentally and physically, on each day of the week.
- Sunday is all about recovery
- Monday: How to deal with DOMS
- Tuesday is Movesday
- Wednesday: Functional training
- Thursday: Analysis is key
- Friday: Preparation before another Big Game
- Saturday: Game Day!