By Guest Blogger Brent Grimsley

HG Physio clinical Director and Sports Physio, Brent Grimsley currently works as Chief Physiotherapist at Prime Human Performance institute at Moses Mabidha stadium in Durban where he looks after Elite High-Performance athletes and various professional teams in multiple sporting codes.

With almost 20 years of experience in working with athletes from pros to weekend warriors and sporty children, he has developed a passion for teaching other medical professionals in injury management of muscle strains, ligament tears, taping and rehab prescription.

You can find out more about Brent and what he does here www.hgphysio.co.za or  follow him on @hgphysio

Working in a high-performance sports environment for many years, I have come to realise the importance of doing appropriate recovery after sports. It has a marked effect on improving performance, general health and immunity, healing and decreasing injury risk.

Recovery is not only important for high end athletes, but also for recreational athletes who neither seem to spend time warming up nor recovering with sports.

Looking at recovery strategies, you will always find: Cool downs, static stretches, hydration, L-Glutamine, protein supplements, ice baths, pool session, compression garments, massage and sleep in the top ten solutions.

This blog will focus on L-Glutamine, Protein supplementation, Collagen and sleep as recovery strategies in sport.

For proper dosages of using these supplements, please consult a Dietician or use as indicated by the manufacturer.

L Glutamine

Glutamine is an important amino acid and a building block of protein in your body. It is a critical part of the immune system and has a special role in maintaining intestinal health.

Proteins are crucial for transporting important substances in the blood and fighting off harmful viruses and bacteria.

There are two different forms: L-glutamine and D-glutamine.

L-glutamine is produced naturally in your body and is one of the most abundant amino acids in the blood and other body fluids.

However, during and after sports, the glutamine needs of your body can be greater than its ability to produce it, leading to your body breaking down protein stores such as muscle to release more L-Glutamine. This has a detrimental effect on sports performance and recovery.

L-Glutamine is a crucial fuel source for immune cells and if compromised will lead to a break down in immunity. Therefore we see many athletes enter big races with flu or get sick when they start doing big training volumes, their immune systems and supply vs demand of L-Glutamine have been compromised.

Studies have also reported that glutamine supplements may decrease infections and lead to shorter hospital stays after surgery. Many athletes suffer with upper respiratory tract infections or have surgery after major injuries and need to look at supplementing with L-Glutamine to help prevent infections and aid in recovery.

L-glutamine is widely recognised and used by athletes to decrease muscle soreness and improve recovery after intense exercise and gym work outs.

Protein supplements

Protein is the building block of all cells in your body and can speed up recovery, improve sports performance, add strength, increase endurance, and even lead to a stronger immune system.

Protein is found in high-quality protein like beef, eggs, poultry, fish, whey or a pea-based complete protein.

With doing resistance training in gym and with doing sport, you create micro-tears in your muscles. As these micro-tears recover, your muscle fibres grow and become stronger. Consuming protein while training and doing sport help repair these damaged muscle fibres and helps build new lean tissue.

Whether it’s for lifting weights, running, or performing sports, you need to help your body repair the micro tissue damage in order to maintain muscle function for future activity.

Researchers have looked at proteins, carbs, fats, and even fasting to see what aids muscle recovery the best and have shown time and time again that protein is most important for muscle recovery if taken in the first 24-72 hours after exercise.

If you take protein 30-60 minutes before a workout, protein might help reduce the soreness you experience after your workout.

Comparing athletes who take protein as recovery vs. those who don’t, researchers found the protein consuming group not only recover faster, but also show more strength during subsequent workouts than those who avoid protein.

Researchers also found that adding protein to your diet after a sport can help with hydration, improve speed and power, and help reduce fatigue after cardio activities.

Collagen

Collagen provides the elasticity and regeneration of connective tissues like tendons, ligaments and cartilage. Tendons, ligaments, cartilage and bones are all parts of the body that are particularly vulnerable to damage with the practice of regular or intense physical activity and sport.

Collagen can be used as a nutritional intervention with other treatments like Physiotherapy for tendon and ligament problems, joint pain and inflammation and specific symptoms of osteoarthritis. This could help athletes to get back to sport sooner after injury and to their former performance level.

Specific collagen peptides have been optimized to support bone health. Collagen peptides help stimulate osteoblast cell activity, which helps with calcium mineralisation. In addition, they help regulate the degenerative processes that affect bones and supplies the body with the basic components needed for a strong and stable bone structure, which is an important protective component for athletes during increased skeletal loading in sport.

In a recent literature review, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) highlighted the health benefits of collagen in sports nutrition. They proposed that collagen peptides may increase the production of collagen, decrease joint discomfort and have the potential to assist with training capacity, recovery, muscle soreness and injury management.

Sleep

Sleep is often suggested to be the single best recovery strategy available to elite athletes. Ensuring athletes gain an appropriate quality and quantity of sleep is important for optimal athletic performance.

Having a balanced and healthy diet has been suggested to improve sleep. Conversely, consumption of alcohol and caffeine and hyper-hydration may disturb sleep.

Researchers have found that sleep deprivation leads to changes in gross motor functions, a decrease in muscle strength, lung power, and endurance performance, all evident after only one night of sleep loss.

In terms of cognitive performance, napping has been shown to have a positive influence on cognitive tasks. It can markedly reduce sleepiness and can be beneficial when learning skills, strategy or tactics.

The suggested recuperative and restorative effects of sleep may have beneficial effects on athletic recovery. In particular, the impairments in the immune and endocrine systems.

Pro athletes typically need to get 8-10 hours every night for recovery. Non-professional athletes should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night to avoid the negative effects of chronic sleep deprivation.

REFERENCES

Clark, K.L., Sebastianelli,W., Flechsenhar, K.R., Aukermann, D.F., Meza, F., Millard, R.L., Deitch, J.R., Sherbondy, P.S., and Albert A. (2008). 24-Week Study on the Use of Collagen Hydrolysate as a Dietary Supplement in Athletes with Activity-Related Joint Pain. Curr. Med. Res. Opin. 24(5), 1485-96. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18416885

Moskowitz, R.W. (2000). Role of Collagen Hydrolysate in Bone and Joint Disease. Semin. Arthritis Rheum. 30(2), 87-99. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11071580

Mah, CD et al. The Effects of Sleep Extension on the Athletic Performance of Collegiate Basketball Players. Sleep. 2011 Jul; 34(7): 943–950.

American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Getting Extra Sleep Improves the Athletic Performance of Collegiate Football Players.” 27 May 2010. Retrieved from: https://aasm.org/getting-extra-sleep-improves-the-athletic-performance-of-collegiate-football-players.

Audrey Yule Coqueiro, Marcelo Macedo Rogero and Julio Tirapegui. Glutamine as an Anti-Fatigue Amino Acid in Sports Nutrition. Nutrients. 2019 Apr; 11(4): 863. Published online 2019 Apr 17. doi: 10.3390/nu11040863

  1. Clifford, et al., “The Effects of Collagen Peptides on Muscle Damage, Inflammation and Bone Metabolism Following Exercise: A Randomized, Controlled Trial,” submitted for publication (2018).

R.J. Maughan, et al., “IOC Consensus Statement: Dietary Supplements and The High-Performance Athlete,” Int. J. Sport Nutr. Exerc. Metab. 28(2), 104–125 (2018).