By Anita Nall Richesson, Olympian & Nutritionist
The human body is an amazing machine. It can recover from some extreme conditions, bounce back from injury and thrive when given the right circumstances. However, the intense level of training that young athletes face on a daily basis can wear out the body over time. This is especially true if proper attention isn’t paid to recovery and regeneration of hard worked muscles.
The daily impact of intense training can be offset by some simple wellness techniques that I’ve created over the years. These would have been great things to know when I was training for the Olympics and competing at elite levels. Choose the ones that fit for you and implement them today.
- Massage fast forwards healing and recovery. Try to get massage as much as you can. There are typically massage schools in most areas that regularly provide affordable massage.
- Aromatherapy sprays and oils can safely help your body regenerate. Certain oils, used externally, can actually help reduce inflammation and speed up the healing process. Some of the oils best for athletic healing are Helichrysum, Ginger & Blue Chamomile. Eucalyptus & Lavender help relax the body and gently coax it into deeper sleep.
- Sleep Smartl! Research shows that teens who get 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep per night are less likely to get injured in their sport. Growth hormone is excreted mainly at night and is responsible for muscle tissue repair. If you do not sleep enough to encourage growth hormone, you will not reach your potential. Remove cell phones from the bedroom and darken the room as much as possible to encourage sleep.
- Eat for recovery. You guys probably know me enough by now to guess what the number one thing is that slows your recovery down….SUGAR! You guessed it! Sugar impedes healing, it promotes infection and reduces immune function AND encourages inflammation in the body- YUCK! We don’t want that stuff! Reduce your sugar and up your green leafies like Kale and Bok Choy to really impact recovery. Also, be sure you are eating the proper amount of protein for your size an age.
- Drink plenty of clean water. This is huge because water will help flush out any toxic buildup and/or lactic acid that’s impacting your muscles performance capacity. Be sure the water is filtered to some degree and put a lemon in it to help detoxify the liver
These tips will help you feel better, more rested and ready to come back to your next practice with vigor. By doing some of these smaller things, you make the big things happen and get a leg up on your competition.
Setting the swimming world ablaze at the young age of fifteen with 2 world records in one day propelled Anita into the fast lane of success. After swimming for the cycle (gold, silver, and bronze) in the 1992 Olympic Summer Games in Barcelona, many health challenges hampered her attempts at returning to an Olympic level. Challenged by a series of “mystery illnesses” that lasted a decade after the Olympics, Anita rediscovered health through food. Traditional medicine’s failed healing attempts drove her towards a personal quest for wellness and a passionate understanding of the healing power of food. Her profound experiences with illness, healing and professional athletics have given her a unique perspective she shares with clients.
After completing her undergraduate degree in Communications and Spanish from Arizona State University she pursued holistic nutrition education at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe, Arizona. Anita is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Specialist, Certified Life Coach and accomplished motivational speaker. Anita is also an elite member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
Anita coaches clients on how to become the CWO (Chief Wellness Officer) of their own lives through her company Feed Me Anita. She completed 3 NFL seasons as Nutrition Consultant for the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL Football Team. She works with various elite professional athletes including UFC fighters, boxers & world-class swimmers as well as major corporations around the country. She recently began another business called More Than Medals. It is an empowerment program for teenage female athletes that centers around motivation, nutrition & increased self-esteem. www.morethanmedals.us
Read the following articles to learn more about Anita: