How well do you understand your muscles? Most young players will talk about muscle gain or growth but often don’t fully understand the process. In order to achieve muscle growth, players need to understand how muscle recovery impacts on their overall goal.
There are many who choose the option of supplementation, which is often costly and sometimes ineffective. At the Investec International Rugby Academy, we believe in young players developing their muscles the natural way – through an understanding of what is required to develop muscles through rest and nutrition.
When we exercise or play sport, we damage the cells in our muscle fibre’s causing muscle soreness or “stiffness”. Thankfully, we have a system in place, controlled by protein and hormones, to ensure that our cells are replaced and recover well enough to handle that activity better. However; if we left our body to repair our muscles on its own, it may take some time. Players can’t rest until they are no longer stiff or sore, they need to attend rugby practice regardless.
Fortunately, through a combination of rest after practice and healthy eating, there are a few very natural ways of speeding up the recovery process. Players should remember that you should first rehydrate after practice before attempting to eat a snack – your body won’t want food straight after exercise.
The ABC of Muscle Recovery
The idea behind eating for recovery is to replace the nutrients lost in exercise through perspiration and to increase the supply of nutrients that feed the recovery process. Here are the key nutrients needed for a faster recovery that you can incorporate into your pre- and post-workout snacks.
- Protein – an energy source and helps repair muscle tissue.
- Antioxidants – helps prevent free radical damage to your muscle cells.
- Water – prevents cramps, fatigue and dizziness.
- Potassium – helps prevent muscle cramps.
- Omega 3’s – helps prevent inflammation.
- Carbohydrates – an energy source.
Want to know more about recovery and nutrition? Our expert, former Sharks Physiotherapist Ruan Fourie, attends every academy to share his expertise with our players and to answer all their questions.
The snack options are endless when you allow your mind to get creative. There is no excuse for boredom when you can try some of these fun and easy suggestions.
- Peanut butter smoothies
- Apples and almond butter
- Sweet potato smoothies
- Oatmeal with almonds and fruit (not just a breakfast snack!)
- Boiled egg and avocado on toast
- Carrots and hummus or Greek yoghurt
- And so much more!
BANANA, ALMOND AND HONEY SMOOTHIE
Who says healthy snacks can’t be creamy and delicious? Try this all natural, dairy-free, sugar-free smoothie.
- 1 frozen banana, broken into chunks
- 1 tablespoon of almond butter
- 2 teaspoons flax seed
- 500ml almond milk
- Honey to taste
- 50ml Vanilla Essence
- Blend all the ingredients until smooth.
- Pour into a glass and serve.
- Add peanut butter instead of almond butter for a nutty kick.
- If you don’t like almond milk, you can use low fat plain yoghurt or low fat milk for a dairy option.
- If you have almonds around the house, blend them in for some crunch.