Athlete fatigue and the problem of continuing training occurs when not enough attention is paid to recovery. It is recovery that aims to keep an athlete able to withstand the demands of training within a sport. The greatest danger is when young athletes are overly dedicated to training but not to recovery, and do not assign much importance to the regeneration of their bodies. If a young athlete wants to break into the world of elite sport where little things make all the difference it is necessary for them to accept the fact that in top sport, athletes who cannot regenerate effectively and take care of their body thoughtfully will not stand.
Regeneration is natural for muscle, and it can be divided into passive or active regeneration. Passive regeneration takes place automatically in our body when the muscle is relaxed and occurs a few minutes after sporting performance. Passive regeneration serves to make loaded and tired muscles return to normal by restoring energy sources, speeding up metabolism by breaking down lactate accumulated during the load, and healing any microtraumas. Active regeneration is any behavioral change aimed at accelerating passive regeneration. For example, one common form of active regeneration is adherence to a proper hydration and varied diet rich in trace elements and minerals. In particular, vitamin C and B are excellent for the regeneration of muscle and nerve fibres. (Roubík a kol., 2018)
Another form of active regeneration is massage. Based on their experience and observation, coaches, sport scientists, healthcare workers, and athletes themselves have all come to the conclusion that massage brings many benefits to the body, and not just for elite athletes. Among the most prominent benefits are increased blood flow and reduced muscle tone, but other benefits include neurological excitability and psychological well-being. Due to the mechanical pressure used in massage, passive and active stiffness are reduced. As such, massage not only has a positive effect on increasing performance, but is also a suitable and frequently used method of injury prevention for athletes. Manual therapy and metabolic massage help to break down lactate (Ravensara & Lindinger, 2003). By mechanically relaxing soft structures, relaxing tightness of overloaded muscles, eliminating pain points in muscles, and improving movement of fascial layers. We have several sports and sports recovery type massages, which can further be divided according to the time after an exercise session. Timing is one of the most important points for meaningful inclusion of regeneration. We divide massages into emergency massages, between performance massages, and restorative massages (which are also known as sports therapeutic massages).
Another indispensable component of quality recovery is sleep. Sleep is a basic form of passive regeneration, a unique and fundamental biological component of all of life’s processes. It is an inseparable part of the daily routine. We can probably all agree that if we don't give our bodies the necessary amount of sleep, we will function poorly the next day, or maybe even several days. How would we then be able to perform with quality? In exceptional cases, quality performance can occur without proper sleep, but this will not occur permanently. The most important functions of sleep are: restoring physical and mental strength, immune system, regenerating and healing tissues, and being generally important for an individual's good health and performance. During sleep we go through several phases but the most important phase for recovery is NREM sleep phase (non-rapid eye movement sleep). The third and fourth phase, sometimes referred to as delta sleep, is important phase in terms of tissue regeneration and energy replenishment. In this phase, most repair mechanisms take place and growth hormone secretion also occurs. (Peterková, 2014).
Saunas are another popular form of recovery. These help athletes speed up the process of recovery. The high temperatures in the sauna cause increased blood circulation and promote increased sweating. The dry heat also helps to relax muscles, reducing stiffness and soreness. In addition to the physical benefits, the sauna has psychological benefits for athletes. The relaxation and stress relief that a sauna provides can help reduce mental fatigue and promote an overall sense of well-being. However, it is important to remember that a sauna is not a substitute for other restorative methods such as stretching, massage, proper nutrition and quality sleep. As well, sauna sessions should only be done in moderation and under supervision, as prolonged exposure to high temperatures can lead to dehydration and other health risks.
Hardening is a training strategy that aims to improve an athlete's ability to cope with intense physical, but also mental, stress. It is a form of progressive resistance training that involves the consistent application of load to muscles, leading to increased muscular strength, endurance and cardiovascular fitness. Hardening has been shown to increase an athlete's resistance to injury and improve their ability to withstand high physical and mental stress, not only in sport but also in their personal life. This exercise helps to increase bone density, bone mass and tendon and ligament strength, which in turn reduces the likelihood of injury. In sports such as football, where athletes are constantly exposed to high levels of physical contact, toughening up is an essential exercise to withstand the rigors of training and competitive play (Hof, 2015). As far as hardening is concerned, later on this page is a short interview with Jakub Chomát, holder of a certificate from Wim Hoff, which is a well-known term in the Czech Republic. He comments on topic related to hardening and regeneration in water sports.
Stretching is one category of exercise, used before and after physical activity, but it is also part of regeneration. Such stretching is mainly divided into static (longer endurance in the final position), dynamic (faster repetitive movements). I suppose you have heard in the past statements like: stretch hard so you don't hurt yourself! Don't forget to stretch after sports. You are so short that you need to stretch more. How much truth is there in that? You are probably now asking yourself what is the point of stretching at all? It certainly makes sense in certain cases, especially where we need to increase range of motion. If an athlete needs sufficient range in the joint to perform the movement properly, stretching in training, even static stretching, is desirable. Thus, when it comes to canoeing we choose stretching in the shoulder joints, upper limbs, back muscles and cervical spine (Lauersen, Bertelsen & Andersen, 2014).
Exercise called "Rolling" is a muscle-vascular relaxation method using a carbon-foam roller. This method is chosen before stretching begins, and it can be used as a stretch before physical activity. However, it is more usual to use it after physical activity. Thanks to the roller we can regulate the amount of pressure in a given position using the influence of soft structures on a neurophysiological basis. It is an uninterrupted pressure and therefore the "trigger point" (painful trigger point) is released, this allows the overworked muscle structure to relax and stretch into a healthy extension. The great advantage of this exercise is that the muscles will be more elastic, healthier, pain-free and overall faster ready for the next exercise. Effortless, self-regulation of the pressure exerted on a given point of the body. Rolling has also proven itself as a home exercise. How to actually use the stretch roller most effectively? During the exercise, you need to target the rolling in the area of the problem, so it is a search for the most sensitive trigger point in that area of the body. You then need to hold on to that spot until the affected point relaxes and releases the discomfort. It is recommended to hold the spot for 30 to 90 seconds. It is important to maintain basic stability while performing the roll, which is uncomfortable for some athletes and, in turn, fatigues other muscle parts. (Kazimír & Klenková, 2017)
Finally, I would like to mention and underline the fact that regeneration is an integral part of quality sports performance, and especially of long-term professional sports training. It ensures that the athlete's body and mind are prepared for intense training and competition, and reduces the risk of injury and exhaustion, both physical and mental. By mastering all the recovery methods highlighted above, athletes can maximize their performance and reach their full potential in their chosen sport. So don't shy away from recovery you will be able to train longer and harder!
1. Peterková, M. (2014). Spánek z hlediska neurofyziologie [online]. Available from: https://www.psyx.cz/spanek-z-hlediska- neurofyziologie/
2. Travillian, R. & Lindinger, M. (2023). Can Massage Squeeze Lactic Acid Out of Muscles? Available from: https://massagefitnessmag.com/massage/massage-remove-lactic-acid-muscles/?utm_content=cmp-true
3. Roubík, L. a kol. (2018). Moderní výživa ve fitness a silových sportech. Praha: Erasport. ISBN 978-80-905685-5-6.
4. Hof, W. (2015). The way of ice man. Dragon Door Publications; 1st edition ISBN 1942812094.
5. Lauersen, J. B., Bertelsen, D. M. & Andersen, L. B. (2014). The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48: 871–877.
6. Kazimír, J. & Klenková, M. (2017). Blackroll – posilování, strečink, automasáž s pěnovým válcem. Praha: Slovart.
Written by: Eva Kunzmanová
Downloadable here: Regeneration in canoeing.pdf