How to Build High Performance Recovery Sessions (HPRT): Breathing and Mobilizations

I don’t play favorites. 

Except when it comes to recovery methods! 

We all know what it feels like the morning after a truly exhausting training session or competition: Super Garbage. Yes, that’s an actual term I use when checking in with athletes. That next day feeling can leave you feeling like it’s hard to just walk from the couch to the kitchen. In fact, it may take most of the day or longer to feel somewhat normal. 

As hard as it is, the best thing to do is go through some kind of warm-up via light movement and stretching. After this most people tend to feel much better and then can get through the rest of their day without an issue. Do they feel great? No. But can they “make it”? Yes. Okay, that’s not too bad.

But what if it were possible to tweak that time-tested formula and leave the session feeling loose, recovered, and ready to - dare I say it? - PERFORM again?!?!

It is possible.

My current favorite recovery method is called high performance recovery training. I got this directly from Joel Jamieson (coaches and trainers, check out his 8-weeks out certification), it involves taking an athlete in need of recovery and relaxing them, doing mobilizations, getting \ blood flow going via aerobic work, and finishing with an explosive movement or two. Magic.

Running HRM Workout.JPG

What I like about keeping with the style Jamieson uses is that even with a typical recovery type session of stretching, athletes may feel better, but they are still not ready to do anything explosive. Or, you know, athletic. It’s like the recovery process isn't really complete so they would not be ready to go in and have a high quality practice. So adding in the explosive component at the end really gets them back as close to normal as we can. 

Some players that are seeing me individually will get a full session like this while the rest of the team comes in. Sometimes we are really pressed for time so we will do an abbreviated version. Either way the whole idea is to switch from that stressed out sympathetic state into a more relaxed and ready parasympathetic state where they focus on what’s going on in the moment. 

Really what that entails is giving them a whole bunch of mobilizations to try to attack the whole body. Generally we start with the feet, which is important for basketball players because of how restrictive the shoes are. Then we'll work on the ankle. Moving up the chain from there into the hips, t-spine, and shoulders. One or two mobilizations each area typically does the trick.

At this point we’ve relaxed into the parasympathetic state, and we have now mobilized the entire body. Then we'll go into some LIGHT blood flow work, which would be some type of aerobic activity. I'll generally break it up into five minute chunks, just to keep it from being too monotonous. We typically would do 2-4 round of 5 minute chunks, so we may get anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes of light aerobic activity. One important thing to note is that we typically stick to non-impact activities with these such as VersaClimber, bike, carries, and light throws. Remember these sessions are typically for when the players are fatigued or banged up, so less impact on their joints is a must. After the blood flow work the next series will typically be some kind of unilateral work and a carry. So for example we would do a sled push and a goblet carry. We use the sled push because it can be a little bit of strength work and it is concentric only, so it will be easier on them to recover from. 

After this blood flow work we move into the explosive part of the session, which we will talk about in part two of this article.

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