Aishling Sheridan is a multi-talented professional athlete, having played with Cavan Senior Ladies football team, Aishling has recently made the successful transition AFLW with Collingwood. Aishling is a qualified Athletic Therapist, combining this with her experience of life as a professional athlete, Aishling has developed a knowledge of best practices for recovery. Here, Aishling educates us on the importance of recovery, and shares some tips and techniques to help with recovery from training or matches.
How To Recover From Training?
Whether it's GAA you play or any other form of sport, adequate recovery is essential to ensure you get the best out of yourself and help reduce the risk of injury. From my experience of playing AFLW and Gaelic Football, recovery can be overlooked especially in team environments as there is less focus on one particular individual. Over in Australia our season was quite short, an 8-week pre-season followed by an 8-week season with games every weekend. Sometimes, we only had a 5 day turn around or an interstate game which required flying 3+ hours and time zone difference. Similar to the league and championship here with games happening most weekends, it can be difficult to get everyone together for a team recovery session so really it is generally left up to the individuals themselves. When you exercise your brain releases endorphins throughout your body which are known to help promote positive feelings and mental wellbeing, leaving recovery a vital part of our training.
Not all recovery methods cost money, some can simply be done in the comfort of your own home. Cryo spas and recovery boots are 2 industries which have grown in recent years, however, they are not as accessible as other methods are and generally cost a small price. Don't get me wrong, I find both of them brilliant and have used both myself, but if you do not have access to these, there are other ways to help ensure you are doing your best to recover.
Ensuring you achieve an appropriate quantity and quality of sleep may have massive implications on how you recover as an athlete. Sleep is probably the most important factor for recovery closely followed by nutrition. Sleep is one thing we ourselves can control and monitor to make sure we are getting the adequate amount (around 7-9 hours). However, every individual is different. Some athletes function perfectly on 6 hours sleep so my advice would be to monitor what works best for you. Lack of sleep affects our mood, our cognitive functions and our heart and lungs so keeping on top of this is vital especially for our health.
Nutrition is a very specific factor and is completely dependent for the individual. A 26-year-old (65kg) Ladies Gaelic footballer will need a completely different program in comparison to a 22-year-old (84kg) hurler. However, the principals will still be similar. Protein and carbohydrates will play a massive part in your recovery as an athlete. Your post training and game meal should include a good complex source of carbohydrate (around 50g-100g) to help replenish muscle fuel stores. This can be found in foods such as porridge, rice, pasta, sweet potatoes. A lean protein source should also be included (20-40g) to help promote muscle growth which can be found in meats such as chicken, white fish and turkey. If you want to be more specific around 1-1.5 per kg of body weight is ideal for carbohydrates and 0.3 - 0.6g of protein.
65kg female x 1.2 = 78g of carbs
65kg female x 0.5 = 32.5g of protein
Around half a packet of rice (125g) contains 38g of carbs and one large chicken breast has around 25g of protein to give some everyday examples.
Schedule Rest Days
Overtraining is something myself and I'm sure many other athletes have fallen a victim too. I was once told “it's not about how much you train, but how smart and the quality of your training that matters”. This couldn't be any more true in my eyes. Especially if you're involved in an intense training program or in the middle of your championship season, it is essential you structure rest days. Listen to your body, make sure the day before your match and even the week leading up to your game isn't too busy so you can give your body that chance to recharge and be ready to go when needed.
After training it is important we replace any fluids lost in that session or game. By trying to maintain proper hydration during training or games, players can reduce the amount of dehydration they will experience. By sipping fluids throughout our training and games we help to maintain our hydration level to a certain extent. Within the first 2 hours of completing your training or game it is essential fluid and electrolyte levels are replaced. Everyone should aim to drink at least 2L of water a day and more especially if you train or play sports. Assessing players hydration status can be done a number of ways, weighing yourself before and after a session or simply monitoring the colour of your urine. For each 1Kg of weight lost, 1.5 litres of fluids must be consumed. Always carry a bottle of water with you so it is easy to sip on and keep hydrated.
About the author: Aishling Sheridan
Aishling holds a bachelor’s degree in Athletic Therapy and Training and currently plays with Cavan Ladies Football Team and Collingwood in the AFLW.
Having experienced the life of a professional athlete, Aishling is now back home to help her club and county out when sporting action resumes.
For more tips on recovery, training techniques or nutrition, follow @as_athlethic_therapy on Instagram.