Be better: Training Tips from Sanford POWER and Matt Cullen
Pro hockey player Matt Cullen and Sanford POWER are teaming up to offer ongoing insight and education into athletic performance over a variety of topics:
WHAT RECOVERY TECHNIQUES DO YOU FIND TO BE HELPFUL?
“Compression gear helps a lot of recovery. I also find hot and cold contrast baths to be very helpful. and most important of all is getting quality sleep.”
We concentrate so heavily on training and physical activity that recovery techniques get overlooked. Many athletes, both competitive and recreational, would benefit from recovery techniques that are important to minimize fatigue and restore the body. Recovery techniques, when used regularly and correctly, may reduce fatigue, improve the frequency and the quality of training and performance. There are several effective recovery methods such as contrast methods (bath and showers), static stretching, active recovery (light physical activity or low intensity cardiovascular work), soft-tissue work, salt baths, electronic muscle stimulation, massage, proper nutrition and hydration, and sleep that can be incorporated. Good quality sleep may be the No. 1 recovery tool as it helps regenerate damaged tissues, abolishes lingering fatigue and provides a mental break from competition and training.
WHAT ROLE DOES STRETCHING, FLEXIBILITY AND MOBILITY TRAINING PLAY IN KEEPING YOU HEALTHY?
“I think these are extremely important. Staying flexible and maintaining/improving mobility is not only important for peak performance, but also for injury prevention.”
A proper dynamic warmup before a practice or training session is essential in preparing your body for success. Movements that help to raise your core body temperature and that mimic the exercises you are about to perform are the most effective. After you complete your training, it’s beneficial to do some active recovery techniques such as foam rolling and static stretching to help increase overall mobility and flexibility.
TRAVEL IS A PART OF SPORTS. HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR BODY TUNED IN WHILE ON THE ROAD?
“Most importantly, I make sure I get enough rest. Quality nutrition is a little more challenging while traveling, but is hugely important. I make sure to get my workouts in while on the road and stretch after traveling to make sure my body doesn’t tighten up at all. Staying hydrated is also a big part of dealing with travel as an athlete.”
Travel is a familiar occurrence for in-season athletes and can be a disadvantage if not taken seriously or managed. Eating well and ample sleep might be the two most difficult aspects of travel because you are out of your natural elements and comfort zone. However, there is no reason to fear your next road trip because there are ways to conquer travel. Plan ahead so you are able to make good nutritional choices and get plenty of water while you’re in the airport, airplane, car or bus. Once you arrive at your destination, take a few minutes to stretch your hip flexors, hamstrings and pecs, which have become tight form your prolonged sitting during travel. Pack a foam roller or lacrosse ball so you can perform self-massage. Lastly, move around and stay active instead of sitting in your hotel room.
WHAT SPORTS DID YOU PLAY GROWING UP? HOW DID THAT HELP YOU BECOME A PROFESSIONAL IN HOCKEY?
“I played baseball and football growing up. I think playing other sports can be really helpful in developing complete athletes. Learning different skills and training methods help us become more well-rounded as athletes and competitors.”
Playing multiple sports as a young athlete has many advantages. It provides opportunities to improve different skill sets and movement patterns that won’t happen as naturally when focused on a single sport. Also, athletes are less likely to get burned out mentally and may have a lower risk of injury. Keeping young athletes engaged in multiple sports helps provide the foundation for success and sets the tone for a lifetime of fitness.
WHAT ARE 2-3 FACTORS THAT HAVE HELPED YOU STAY HEALTHY AND INSPIRED TO COMPETE FOR SO LONG?
“Commitment to training not only hard, but also intelligently. I think it’s really important that you adapt your training as you grow and get older, and also that you adapt according to what you need. Each season provides you with feedback on areas that you can improve upon personally. I think it’s extremely important to constantly be upgrading and improving your training methods.
Also, I’m a huge believer in the importance of good nutrition. There are a lot of tools to help guide you in formulating the right nutritional plan. It’s also important to be cognizant of your own specific individual dietary requirements based on different food sensitivity/allergy tests that are available now. Clean eating is a must for any athlete.”
Proper nutrition, hydration, recommended amount of sleep, recovery methods and a sound training plan are all factors that can help athletes optimize their training, performance and recovery.