ryan miller, recovery, hockey, athlete

Team USA's Ryan Miller: How I Recover

The goalie shares his go-to strategies for surviving the Sochi schedule.

For Team USA athletes, bouncing back from a grueling workout is always a priority, and particularly so when facing a schedule as punishing as that of the Sochi games. “The intense strength and conditioning workouts are the glorified part of elite athlete training, however in reality this only happens in the pre-season,” explains Kori Lyn Malyszek, Southern California’s EFTI coordinator. “Once the season starts, the focus of the athlete is on a well-planned recovery regimen.”

Since the bodies of hockey players take a particular (and often literal) brand of beating, who better to advise on the strategies used to optimize recovery and come back strong. During the May to September off-season, Malyszek trains Team USA goalie Ryan Miller, who plays for the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, at Equinox West Hollywood, and the duo shared the recovery strategies used to get his body back to fighting form after each game. 

(1) Recovery Technique: Foam Rolling
The Athlete’s Take: “Foam rolling and using a lacrosse ball for some areas is something I do everyday,” says Miller. “With my position, my IT band on the outside of the quad takes a lot of stress. It gets really tight and pulls on my hips. Focusing on rolling that area and the surrounding areas at the hip and hamstring is essential. Something a lot of people miss is massaging the feet. I use a lacrosse ball or even a golf ball to make the muscles in the foot relax and get knots out.”
The Trainer’s Take: “Ryan's advice is perfect,” says Malyszek. “You want to roll muscles that cross all joints necessary for movement. Do not leave any out or you may be imbalanced. Eventually you will learn where your trigger points or hot spots are located, then concentrate on those, and just check in with the other areas.”

(2) Recovery Technique: Massage
The Athlete’s Take: “Massage and rest is going to be critical,” says Miller. “Allowing anything in the chain of vertebrae to get pulled out of alignment affects alignment and muscle balance.”
The Trainer’s Take: “This is best post-game or workout. Massage can get overactive muscles to finally shut up. Massage is also great for breaking up adhesions and scar tissue from an aggressive workout,” says Malyszek. “It also increases systemic circulation, necessary for faster recovery.”

(3) Recovery Technique: Sleep
The Athlete’s Take: “We are planning our sleep on schedule to get in sync with the local time as quickly as we can. When we arrive in Sochi we will be practicing within hours of arrival to make sure our bodies don't slip into that sleepy, jet-lagged feeling that you get when flying for more than a few hours,” says Miller. “The time change will be 9 hours so this will be a big adjustment.”
The Trainer’s Take: “It is when you are sleeping that your body presses the 'reset button' and goes under physiological construction. Muscle and nerves gets repaired, and neurotransmitters are produced,” says Malyszek. “The harder you play, the more sleep you need.”

(4) Recovery Technique: Hydration
The Athlete’s Take: “I will be paying close attention to hydration after the amount of travel it will take to get to Sochi!” says Miller.
The Trainer’s Take: “The adrenaline of the Games can often mask symptoms of dehydration, which include fogginess, rapid heartbeat and the inability to thermo-regulate (i.e. getting chills or over heating),” says Malyszek,” which is why it’s really important that athletes stay on top of hydration needs, which includes the addition of electrolytes when needed.”