Recovering after a big sports event

Recovering after a big sports event

Recovering after a big sports event

The 129th annual Washington State Open USTA NW Regional tennis tournament at the Seattle Tennis Club started July 29, and is a weeklong tournament that draws athletes from all over the city and country, who hope to enjoy a beautiful day at the club, survive and advance through the draw, and, with any luck, come away with some wins under their belt; hopefully without any injuries to their body or their pride.

There is always a question of how long should you rest after a big tournament? And the answer shouldn’t be when you feel good again. While feeling good is an indicator of your recovery, it’s only a fraction of the big picture.

Rest may be the most obvious thing to do after a long tournament, but it’s rarely done well. Some people think once the soreness goes away, that your body is recovered and you’re good to go. If we only considered the muscle belly (middle meaty part of the muscle), this would be true, but the reality is that there are other body parts involved.

Consider your tendons and ligaments that are constantly remodeling and responding to load and have a “memory” of several months. Also consider the fascia (the thin strong layer around muscles, keeping them snug to the bone and joints), and how it will need to be manipulated in all the right places and all the right ways to restore effective tension after a long tournament. Finally, we don’t think of our cartilage (in our knees for example) as being a living cellular matrix needing management, but it is a living and “breathing” structure that needs rest, rehydration and time to repair.

How long should you rest? It all depends on your level of sport fitness. Keep track of your playing hours (or estimate) for the tournament, and then after it’s over, find your place on the table above. Your hours should include warm up, tournament play and cool down.

Example: You’re at a moderate level of fitness for your sport and usually play 4-6 hours of tennis per week but you played a tournament and spent 12 hours total of warming up, competing and cooling down. You would fall in the 2X category because you spent twice as many hours doing your sport that week, so you would use the 2X multiplier (2 x 6 hours = 12 hours). It’s not exactly intuitive, so if you have trouble calculating your number, reach out to one of our staff at NW Sports Rehab and we will help with your estimation.

This is only a guide, and there are many other factors that will modify on a case-by-case basis, but in general this is a good guide to follow. As always, if there are injuries to consider, consult a sports-knowledgeable health professional first.

What to do on your days off? Taking a “day off” of your sport doesn’t mean you sit on the couch instead. Keep the intensity low to moderate, keep it low impact, hydrate, eat well, sleep and keep moving. Recovery is an active process, and you should engage with it just as much as you would engage with a hard day of sport.