Often when we are putting out the team schedule on ussoccer.com or through Twitter @ussoccer, we refer to a particular training as a ‘regeneration session’. Inevitably that leads to references to the Borg or Hugh Jackman. So what does the term really mean?
“The best way to describe regeneration is ‘active recovery’,” says U.S. strength and conditioning coach Masa Sakihana. “For an athlete, it’s not enough to just relax and wait for the body to recover. You must promote healing in order to get ready to perform at a high level for the next session. Through regeneration, we are also helping your body adapt to the demands of a heavy workload.”
After an intense workout, muscle tissue is damaged and toxins build up in the body which make your muscle sore and slow down the recovery process. By actively engaging in regeneration, you remove waste products out of the system as soon as possible, help repair damaged tissue, and replenish energy sources.
What are the activities that trainers use to aid in regeneration?
“We use a holistic approach that involves stretching, massage, aerobic activity, nutrient replenishment and hydration. We like to have the players engage in 15-20 minutes of aerobic activity,” continued Sakihana. “There are several stretching exercises we go through. Yoga is a great option, because it combines stretching with an opportunity to refresh your mind as well. We use things like foam rollers and massage sticks to help elongate the muscles and promote tissue repair, and then have the players go in a cold tub to help flush the system.”
Given its significance in promoting recovery and allowing players to perform at a higher level in every training session and game, regeneration sessions should be included as part of any training schedule, and not just when coaches observe that players are tired or need a break. The message is clear. “Regeneration has to be part of the plan from the beginning,” Sakihana said. “You can’t just react.”