Lots of interesting stuff here:
"There are different levels of training that should be done by an NBA player versus other athletes," Downs said. "They are arguably the most athletic athlete because of explosive power, and different aerobic and anaerobic fitness, and they need systems to be prepared for all of that. So there are times they need high intensity with high reps versus low intensity with low power reps."
Post-playing recovery speaks to a larger issue, according to Dr. Clark, who is a leading member of the Suns' highly praised training staff. He said it's an important, overlooked area that could help players not only play longer minutes, but also remain healthier throughout the season.
"Everybody could do a much better job on recovery, and recovery is your nutrition," he said. "When you're done with practice or a game or training, you have a 30-minute window opportunity where you can take a sports protein shake. Your body can recover nutritionally very, very quickly, but most athletes don't like that. They just want to get out, practice, shower up and get out of there.
"Also, a lot of guys don't hydrate themselves enough after practice, training or a game. Once you start to become dehydrated, that affects your tissue, flexibility, it affects your recovery, all that stuff. A lot of guys don't go through and re-lengthen their muscles that just got short by either training, practice or the game, so they don't stretch. While a lot of guys are pretty good about icing their knees—getting into the cryotub, sauna, whatever—most guys do not do enough flexibility and tissue laceration at the end of the session."
No matter what, as Downs and Lancaster made sure to address, no type of training can duplicate real-time game action and unexpected movements. Therefore, occasionally injuries are bound to happen, and fans need to face that reality.
"It's difficult to simulate the exact torque and explosiveness in training; the game is too far separated," Lancaster said. "Sweating through hard work and actually simulating the game can be very different beasts—the speed, the reactions, the unexpected and isolated bumps. Getting your hips and shoulders to game realistic levels are tough to simulate in training, and even in offseason game play."
Overall, better precautions can be taken: more sufficient training, not rushing back from injury, increased research on trainers and better collaboration between team doctors and individual trainers, so the players' medical histories are always factored into workout planning. Downs and Lancaster also pointed to sitting out one to two games per week for older players, if necessary, to improve their longevity. Both trainers called the protective rest "the new strategy" in the league, which the Spurs and Heat have made popular recently.
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