At its most basic level restoration and regeneration is the normalization of the basal metabolic rate (BMR), the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and all the functions they entail (circulation, assimilation, rest and elimination). In competitive endeavors, where performance is prized over participation, there are competitive advantages to accelerating the recovery process. Many competitions require multiple rounds of competitions or performances over a short period of time. Virtually every Olympic sport requires this and it is also a reality during play-offs of most professional sports.
Accelerated recovery is critically important because it is fatigue or cumulative fatigue that is one of the major performance limiting factors. Ideal performance and a greater opportunity for success hinge on the athlete competing with a “full tank.”
This is not a new concept. Most USATF Level l coaches utilize restoration and regeneration when they follow a “hard-easy” workout sequence in the weekly training plan. One day of hard work followed by an easy day to recover. As the sophistication of training theory evolves, particularly as used by the Europeans, time and effort are spent on activities that accelerate recovery (massage, chiropractic, diet, electro-therapy, hydrotherapy, etc.). I have a friend who was the Olympic Biathlon coach. He feels that Americans will never succeed in endurance based events using the present healthcare model of symptomatic care. It is his opinion that recovery efforts must be pursued aggressively and pro-actively and must be as closely scripted as other training components such as interval training or weight work.
The role of restoration and regeneration can be explained using Yokalev’s model. (Figure 2). Yokalev’s model is arguably the most widely used training theory model in the world. Basic metabolic rate (BMR) is represented by the x- axis. Time follows +x. Performance and fatigue make up the continuum of the y-axis. A training session, the intersection of x and y. (weight training, running, cycling, etc.) produces fatigue over time (-y). When a training session ends, recovery, over time, begins. If the training load is appropriate for the athlete’s level of fitness a period of super-compensation or adaptation follows. In theory this is the desired improved performance. This pattern is repeated daily, weekly and monthly and if done judiciously, avoiding illness and injury, one could expect performance to improve as one’s career progresses. (Figure 3).
Chiropractic and massage fit into this model as both disciplines help shift the recovery curve to the left, (the dotted line} decreasing the time necessary to return the body to its BMR. This is accelerated recovery. This is significant because this allows the athlete to, in theory, safely train harder and more often, accelerating the date of their potential, ultimate performance. Incidentally, this is the effect of the banned, performance-enhancing drug, an anabolic steroid, has on the body.
In truth this is a vast oversimplification of training theory. The actual practice becomes more complicated because of the multiple variables that need be factored into a yearly or semi-annual training cycle including competition dates, peaking plans and the planned and unplanned stressors of one’s personal life. Great athletes only make it look easy.
Of particular note is that chiropractic can, when used prior to a competition, also enhance performance (increasing the super-compensation curve upwards on the y-axis). It has been known for decades that an adjusted articular joint enjoys an ease of movement and an increased range of motion and subsequent neuromuscular response. Studies by New York Chiropractic College’s Joseph Miller, DC suggest that thoracic spine adjustments improve maximal oxygen consumption ability (max V02), the implications of which are staggering for an endurance athlete.
Unfortunately, as a profession chiropractors have done a less than stellar job getting the word out on this. Anecdotally or intuitively an athlete “knows” chiropractic care aids performance but with regards to the “why’s” necessary to explain chiropractic’s role to another health care provider the profession has fallen short. With the adaptation of the new triage model chiropractic now has a defined role, With a complementary service that can be defended with scientific fact. And this is, in part, why the line forms at the chiropractor’s tent.