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 Recovery 101
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Posted - 06/18/2018 :  08:18:55  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
In between busy baseball schedules and the summer heat setting in, we thought it might be a good time to talk about recovery! The brain has no way of differentiating “good” stress from “bad” stress, as all types of physical activity come at a cost. In the 90+ degree heat, a 4-4 day at the plate can be just as taxing as a golden sombrero in terms of stress. The body’s nervous system is incredibly complex and has seemingly limitless hierarchies and methods of operation. The nervous system is what allows us to read and learn without having to think about breathing or regulating our heartbeat in the process. For simplicity’s sake, lets think of the nervous system as two categories: sympathetic and parasympathetic.

Most people have heard of the “fight or flight” response, in which the sympathetic nervous system releases hormones and readies the muscle’s abilities to function in order to run from a bear. This is one of our most precious assets for survival as humans. However, the neural & physical load (stress) of constantly traveling, deadlines, or 10 baseball games in a weekend is no different than the bear chasing you to the brain. While the sympathetic nervous system allows us to work hard or pitch 7 shut out innings, constantly living “toned” up can have negative consequences. In terms of athletic performance, here are a few common issues that can arise: loss of mobility, poor posture, reduced performance, and fatigue.

The parasympathetic side of things is the “rest and digest” system. We literally sleep and digest food in this state, so this system is what allows us to relax and recover. With a little bit of background on the autonomic nervous system, it should make sense that the ability to switch from sympathetic to parasympathetic is the name of the game in recovery. Appropriate quantities of sleep, water, and nutrition are paramount for both performance and recovery.

Here are a few of our keys to recovery:

1.Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours per night. Limit electronic exposure before bed, and limit caffeine intake too late in the day. It can mess with your sleep cycles.

2.Eat the right stuff: prepared food ahead of time is best. Make sure your blood glucose levels are stabilized (aka: don’t eat once every 8 hours-ESPECIALLY if you’re a teenager trying to gain weight)- Have snacks ready!
a. Eat REAL food! We recommend protein and vegetables with each meal. Some recommendations are as much as 2-3 pounds of vegetables per day! (We know that’s easier said than done, but EVERYONE needs vegetables!)
b. Fruits and vegetables contain extremely important micronutrients that allow our bodily processes to operate efficiently.
c. Slow down and ENJOY your food!

3.HYDRATE: Stay ahead of the game. If you know you have 3 games on Saturday, you need to start hydrating on Thursday. If you’re crazy thirsty in the 5th inning, its probably too late. Sports drinks are fine in moderation after or during a hot game, but they cannot replace water. Buy a 30-40oz canteen and drink 2-4 per day!

4.LEARN to relax: set aside time for yourself and have quiet time. Spend time with family and friends. Have fun and “chill out!”

5.Have a really well developed aerobic system. Cardiovascular fitness is critical to performance on the field and for general wellness. This system is what allows us to still perform at a high level over a long period of time. This system can help us recover between bouts of exercise or between games. Additionally, aerobic exercise has been shown to improve mood, learning and cognitive abilities, and even treat ADHD. The easiest way to work on this is simply going for a 15-20 minute walk every day. I tell my athletes to walk the dog on their off days. Being in great shape can be the difference between wins and losses on championship Sunday!

We hope this helps! Have a great week and as always please feel free to comment with suggestions or questions!

All the best,

The Rapid Team

Andrew Gordon, MS, CSCS

Keys to Recovery: Cade Jones, MS, CSCS

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