Usually conversations post-Super Bowl revolve around the type of (extreme) regimen professional athletes are committed to.
One of the more common myths in sports is that athletic training equals performance to the point of exhaustion without consideration for recovery. Mind over matter, push more, strive more — be more (than the average person) and that is what helps you win. We’ve all seen the “go for broke” memes. It’s true that people that participate in any athletic event are doing more physically than most of us to achieve certain goals. However, just as important or more so, is the emphasis on recovery.
According to fitness writer and expert, Elizabeth Quinn, setting aside time to rest is crucial to sports performance for a variety of physiological and psychological reasons. Rest is necessary so that our bodies can repair, rebuild and strengthen.
“Recovery allows the body to adapt to the stress of exercise and the real training effect takes place. Recovery also allows the body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues. Exercise or any other physical work causes changes in the body such as muscle tissue breakdown and the depletion of energy stores (muscle glycogen) as well as fluid loss.” (Very Well Fit, 2018)
How literally should we take the term “rest” in context of recovery? Beyond the ‘low impact” days that don’t include extreme exercise are the intentional sleep-full nights that are critical to recovery as well.
The University of Eastern Finland and Oivauni Sleep Clinic analyzed 107 professional athlete’s sleep through a survey. They found that one in four athletes suffered from significant sleep disorders (such as trouble falling asleep, snoring or sleep-disordered breathing) and that one in six regularly used sleeping pills (either to fall asleep or stay asleep) in season. (Fitness Magazine, 2018)
The good news is that recently, there has been more awareness around the need for restful, restorative sleep as a conduit to recovery and overall, better performance.
Five time Super Bowl Champion, Tom Brady, has said “I firmly believe that sleep and recovery are critical aspects of an effective and holistic training program. Proper sleep has helped me get to where I am today as an athlete and it is something that I continue to rely on every day.” (Fatigue Science Magazine, 2019)
So as it turns out, sleep is to recovery as blocking is to a tackle. You can’t have one without the other and expect to win.
*Photo taken from Super Bowl VIII. Former Offensive Tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, Jonathan Ogden with ASTI CEO, Sam Nicolino at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta, GA.