New Year Resolution: Monitoring Your Recovery Levels!

by Manav Bajaj & Rishabh Jaiswal

We are sure that you are looking forward to a cracking 2020 when it comes to your Squash training and competition performance.

Since the beginning of the year is a good time to make some new resolutions (and stick to them!), we recommend that you pick the monitoring of your recovery levels as this will contribute to your goals in Squash for 2020.

The last thing you would want is to be running at all cylinders firing and not on empty tanks mid-way during a match, or even your competition season.

Before looking what parameters can be monitored at your end, let us look at what Recovery actually means.

What is Recovery?

Adequate recovery is critical to Sport performance for a variety of reasons. Recovery can be both psychological and physiological. Physiologically speaking, recovery broadly aims at ensuring your muscles can repair, rebuild and your cardiovascular system can also recover. Outlining specific markers of recovery helps you monitor those markers and ensure you are well recovered going into a training session or an event.

Recovery is also dependent on your workload, which needs to be monitored closely to understand the physiological and psychological stressors you may be subjected to during your daily or weekly regimen.

How can you Measure Your Recovery?

Some acute markers that athletes can monitor to ensure they are informed about their physical response to training are:

  1. Resting Heart Rate (RHR) or Heart Rate Variability (HRV):

Resting Heart Rate (RHR) which involves taking a resting heart rate reading every morning. Once a baseline is established after a few weeks, athletes can then see how much their daily RHR deviates from their baseline score.

 A 10-20% deviation indicates moderate recovery and <20% indicates low recovery levels and athletes can then adjust their training load accordingly.

Another upcoming method is measure one’s Heart Rate Variability (HRV) which basically involves monitoring the time interval between each heartbeat. With some additional recovery markers (mentioned below), HRV apps can give you a Readiness Score on a daily basis.

To know more about Heart Rate Monitoring Applications, you can view our podcast here: https://www.instagram.com/p/ByNIo-YlZpj/

2. Nutrition & Hydration

 An individual’s nutrition and hydration levels also indicate their recovery levels and can make a significant difference in performance and recovery.

It is important to estimate your calorie requirement by calculating the energy expenditure in Squash and Strength & Conditioning as well as any other sport/activities that you participate in. Your nutritional intake should be able to fulfill both your macronutrient and micronutrient requirements to ensure adequate recovery.

Please note that it you are found that to be nutritionally at a deficit with respect to your workload, it is important to increase your diet intake. At the same time, since it is practically feasible to only increase your intake by a certain amount over a period of time, revisiting your workload and training smarter to achieve your goals should also be considered.

Hydration: It is important to monitor your hydration levels and ensure that you are well-hydrated not just during training or your matches but through the day as well.

Simple tools such as urine charts, and certain habits such as measuring your Sweat Rate on a weekly basis or a day before competition, can help you come up with your own Hydration Strategy.

To watch more of our inputs on Hydration as a High Performance Habit, visit: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bwlu_P_HZQW/

3. Sleep Quantity & Quality

Sleep is another aspect that is highly correlated with levels of recovery and there is an ever-increasing scientific base for the hypothesis that 8-9 hours of night sleep can significantly help improve several performance metrics such as concentration and reaction time.

Sleep patterns comprise different phases of sleep, including your deep sleep cycles (which last approx. 90 min) which are crucial for recovery and regeneration. It is recommended that a young athlete gets 5-6 deep cycles of sleep at night and supplementary naps in the afternoon (of approx. 40 min, and preferably before 4 pm to ensure night sleep is not affected) as and when possible or required.

Sleep Quality is equally important for recovery and should be monitored on a scale of 1-10, to gauge the impact of sleep on recovery. The guidelines on improving Quality of sleep can be seen here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BzVclGRpMYl/

Recommended Hours of Night Sleep for Squash Players:

Under 12 age group: Min 10 hours

12-18 age group: Min 9 hours

18+ age group: Min 8-9 hours

4. Acute Chronic Workload Ratio (ACWR)

Your or your Sport Science support team can calculate your recovery in terms of your workload variation by logging your minutes of training and intensity of training in a given session.

The important things to keep in mind when it comes to tracking your ACWR are:

  1. If your workload has increased suddenly (greater than 1.5 times previous week’s workload), you may be at an increased risk for injury or illness. This is especially important right after exams (when your Squash training and Strength & Conditioning frequency and/or intensity are low) and you are looking to resume training again.
  • Similarly, it is advisable that you do not decrease your workload drastically (unless ill or injured) as that has also shown to impact your likelihood of injury negatively.

To know more about ACWR, watch https://www.instagram.com/p/BvWPl8bHxFL/

5. Blood Markers

Squash players should also get routine blood work done which looks at specific markers such as Cortisol, Testosterone and Creatine Kinase levels which reflect your chronic recovery and can be used to test how a squash player has responded to a hard and grueling season.

You can write to us on more info about these and other markers at info@sportingethos.com

Conclusion

Recovery remains an integral aspect of High Performance but is often overlooked with athletes not paying enough attention to their needs. Therefore, knowledge of relevant markers for recovery and regular monitoring of these markers can help athletes gain a better understanding of their natural response to training and using this data with their Sports science team and Squash coach can result in better individualization of training and ensure Squash players recover better to achieve high performance.

To get more information and tips about Workload & Recovery, Sleep, Hydration, Heart Rate Monitoring and other High Performance Habits, you can visit (and follow) our Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/sportingethos_india/

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