We are five games into the NBA playoffs (Warriors vs Cavaliers) and so far the Warriors are leading three games to two. With a number of injuries plaguing the Cavs in this finals series, super athlete Lebron James has a big task ahead of him. His best three teammates Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao are all injured and out for the season, so James needs to be at his best if his beloved Cavs are to pull through with the victory.
So this got me thinking… what does this 6 foot 8, 113kg machine do to ensure his body is at its best come the next game?
(Surely as volleyball athletes, we can learn a little from looking at Lebron’s recovery regime right?)
So here is what I found… below are the secrets to Lebron James recovery.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
A bit of a no-brainer really. Obviously it is important to replenish fluids and key electrolytes lost during the match. James consumes a carefully prepared combination of water and carbohydrate-rich recovery fluids immediately post game to replace fluids and electrolytes and top up his stored glycogen levels.
- Ice baths
And the dreaded ice bath makes an appearance (I’m already quivering at the thought). The hydrostatic pressure of the water is thought to provide compression (to reduce swelling and inflammation). The ice-cold temperature decreases core temperature, reduces sweating following exercise (to reduce further fluid loss), reduces muscles soreness and causes blood vessels to constrict (further reducing swelling). Then after jumping out of the ice bath the blood vessels dilate, which encourages more blood flow back to the muscles, helping to flush out the toxins and metabolites produced during exercise.
- Good quality food
Lebron James refuels his body with high-quality protein and carbohydrates. If you liken James’ body to a Formula-1 racecar, eating a good quality meal is just as important as refueling during a pit stop.
- Compression tights
As I understand, there is mixed evidence for the effectiveness of compression tights in post-exercise recovery. Essentially the thought is that the compression assists in preventing swelling and increases return of blood from the extremities to the heart. Probably much more effective if you are jumping on a plane immediately post-match, as we know that altitude effects swelling and venous return. Regardless of the supporting evidence, compression tights certainly can’t hurt, and are definitely worth trying!
- Gentle massage
And we can’t forget about some good, old-fashioned massage. Massage is thought to promote blood flow, which will flush out toxins and deliver all of the good nutrients that James’ has ingested, to his muscles.
- Light exercise
Lebron James keeps his body moving and his blood pumping with some gentle conditioning on a stationary bike. Similar purpose to the massage – gentle exercise will move blood around his body and will help with post-exercise soreness and stiffness by increasing venous return and by clearing of metabolites.
And finally… a nap. Never underestimate the importance of sleep in allowing your body to recover and re-set for the next game. Sleep is without a doubt, considered to be the gold standard of recovery. Generally athletes are encouraged to sleep for 8-10 hours per night. I imagine this would be a challenge for Lebron James however, given the time zone shift between Cleveland and California and the short turn around between games (not to mention the difficulty of trying to get to sleep after a late night game with all of that adrenaline pumping!).
So there you have it. Nothing fancy. Nothing crazy. Nothing unexpected.
But it all makes sense.
For the whole article, check out the link below:
Until next time!