Most of us have occasional trouble sleeping after an intense game or practice because of the endorphin high we're surfing. How many times have you rushed out of practice or a game because it was late and you needed to get home? Guilty! I am a repeat offender unfortunately. Sometimes I have to get home because it's super late and I have a million things to do in the morning, or the practice space is closing and we aren't allowed to sit and stretch and slow down our breathing, or I have to leave an away game directly after because I have a long drive to conquer that night. Any of these excuses sound familiar? Many of us just don't take the proper steps to restore our balance before we try to sleep.
1. Stretch after practice. I know that most leagues have great and elaborate stretching routines they do before a heavy practice, but it's far more important to stretch and warm down after. Before you play, you should be doing "smaller" but similar movements that you're going to be doing on the track to warm up, These smaller movements tend to stretch your muscles in a more natural way than "Stretching" actually will. Unfortunately, so many of us ditch the after exercise stretching, and our bodies are paying for it. Without that after work out stretch, you're asking for you muscles and tendons to seize up. Stretching after exercise protects your joints and body from stress injuries, so leagues, take the time to stretch right at the end of practice!
|Before AND after!!!!!|
2. Drink chocolate milk. Oh oh oh...I know a beer sounds amazing after practice, but chocolate milk is way better for you. It has the right balance of carbs and proteins that your body needs to recover. It speeds up recovery better than sugary "energy" drinks and doesn't interfere with your muscles recovery the way that any alcohol can, including beer. Besides, who doesn't need more calcium? Also, make sure you have enough water, if you're thirsty, you already are dehydrated.
3. Ice down your joints. After any heavy exercise you should be icing your joints for ten minutes. Do I suggest you hunker down in an ice bath? It's tempting some days, but in all seriousness, icing your knees and ankles can help speed any little tears you have developed in them during your exercise. Icing your joints can cut down on potential injuries as well, so get some ice bags and do your thing!
4. Get enough sleep. Sleep is what renews our bodies and minds, so you should be getting at least 7-8 hours every night. Don't you snicker at me, that's what you're supposed to be getting! Turn off the tv, put down the electronic crap and get to bed.
5. Turn off your mind. Sometimes this is easier said than done. My brain likes to replay everything that happened during practice or the game. "Man, I really screwed that up!" or "That was freakin' awesome!" Either way, I find myself lying awake, reliving my prior activities sometimes. It helps if you can clear your mind and control your breathing when you're trying to sleep. Focusing on your breathing takes more energy than you think, and it distracts your brain from from its self flagellation or celebration. With the chocolate milk, the icing and the stretching, you might deplete the level of adrenaline just enough to let your mind finally drift off.
It's hard to power down after a late night work out, no matter what that work out is. I personally believe that derby might be even more difficult to mentally and physically let go because it is almost like fighting a battle; we're in fight or flight mode for a couple of hours, and that can be exhausting. It's controlled chaos for sure, and sometimes we need to remind ourselves it will take some extra TLC to get our minds and bodies to be calm. Take care of yourself. In the end, all we have are our bodies, and we abuse those enough DURING derby.