Anyone who is focused on training hard to achieve specific goals through weight training, sport play, conditioning or a combination, is going to need to be smart about planning in some recovery sessions.
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research published a paper entitled "The effect of pomegranate juice supplementation on strength and soreness after eccentric exercise" in July of 2011. Here is the abstract:
The purpose of this study was to determine if pomegranate juice supplementation improved the recovery of skeletal muscle strength after eccentric exercise in subjects who routinely performed resistance training. Resistance trained men (n = 17) were randomized into a crossover design with either pomegranate juice or placebo. To produce delayed onset muscle soreness, the subjects performed 3 sets of 20 unilateral eccentric elbow flexion and 6 sets of 10 unilateral eccentric knee extension exercises. Maximal isometric elbow flexion and knee extension strength and muscle soreness measurements were made at baseline and 2, 24, 48, 72, 96, and 168 hours postexercise. Elbow flexion strength was significantly higher during the 2- to 168-hour period postexercise with pomegranate juice compared with that of placebo (main treatment effect; p = 0.031). Elbow flexor muscle soreness was also significantly reduced with pomegranate juice compared with that of placebo (main treatment effect; p = 0.006) and at 48 and 72 hours postexercise (p = 0.003 and p = 0.038, respectively). Isometric strength and muscle soreness in the knee extensors were not significantly different with pomegranate juice compared with those using placebo. Supplementation with pomegranate juice attenuates weakness and reduces soreness of the elbow flexor but not of knee extensor muscles. These results indicate a mild, acute ergogenic effect of pomegranate juice in the elbow flexor muscles of resistance trained individuals after eccentric exercise.
Sometimes... okay, lots of times... I find strength and conditioning research to be quite limiting and, in the end, not that helpful. It's been well accepted and practiced for years that the best post-training meal to consume is a liquid meal with roughly a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbs:protein.
Pomegranate juice really has nothing more substantial in it (for exercise recovery) than any other fruit juice or a sports drink. It's ALL sugar.
Take this study for what it's worth: further proof that something is better that nothing after you train. I'm sure the study participants would have been better served and demonstrated recovery in the "knee extensor muscles" if they'd been given a pomegranate drink that also included the proper ratio of carbs:protein.
Here's a SUPER simple recipe for a recovery drink I make for myself:
3-4 tbsp Nestle Quick powder
1/2 scoop protein powder
If you’re in the midst of grinding through the back third of a fall sport season, the following provides some quick ideas about how you can hasten and improve your rate/quality of recovery between competitions…and generally just stay healthy! -Don’t forget to eat
You must make eating a priority. I remember teammates losing 10-15lbs throughout a competitive season. Coincidence that these same guys were the one’s always nursing something in the training room? They blamed travel, lack of quality food on the road, etc. for their dramatic weight loss. Yes, while these variables did make finding the time for frequent-quality feedings more difficult, it’s certainly possible if you make eating a priority.
I used to pack “road coolers.” I’d stuff that sucker full of fruit, veggies, trail mixes and sandwich accoutrement. Safe to say my processed and fast food consumption was significantly less, meal frequency much more regular, and weight fluctuation less drastic, as compared to my peers.
Becoming regimented with your sleep is also extremely important. It’s important that you try to hit the sack at the same time every night, while shooting for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep. This too was challenging as Madden wars or Poker hands (not for money of course…settle down) sometimes impeded on my desired hour of retirement. For me, melatonin, sleep mask, and a quality set of ear plugs always did the trick.
High-school guys and gals, you have no excuse for this one.
-Soft tissue work
Whether it’s self-inflicted (foam rolling), or delivered manual by a therapist (you can’t beat this), you got to find time to address tissue quality. Restrictions within the musculature will severely impede proper blood flow (and subsequent delivery of nutrients), and also prohibit proper movement patterns. A little bit of preventative maintenance in this area will go a long way, trust me.
-Low intensity cardio/mobility/activation drills
All of these can be accomplished in the same 20 minute session. Blending these components will not only aid in flushing toxins and delivering new nutrient rich blood, but will also help ward off mechanical asymmetries that can crop-up from overuse and the repetitive nature of sport.
It’s important not to overreach during these sessions, as the intent is to aid in recovery, not cause greater disruption. A perfect session might include various sled pulls, crawling variations, hip flexor and thoracic mobility drills, and some glute activation.
Hope this helps…