What's up: Train hard - recover well!

What's up: Train hard - recover well!

After a tough practice I just want to go to bed and rest, sometimes. My muscles hurt and my mind needs some time to get ready for new tasks. But is this the right way, to recover well? Annika Hof zum Berge, PhD-student at Ruhr University Bochum, searches for new answers and better ways for recovery in this month's student column.

In the last years she did studies with sportive students and high performance athletes about their recovery management and methods. “Recovery is very individual. These are the difficulties in my field of study. You can’t simply divide students or athletes in groups. Everybody needs to find his or her way of regeneration,” says Annika. The importance of recovery increased in the last years. Students’ and athletes’ life became more stressful. Times to recover is rare. “The recovery must be more efficient. Most athletes don’t only have their sports. They go to university or do additional internships in companies. Therefore they have even more stressful days than before,” explains Annika. A successful recovery strategy is related to the two parts of regeneration. Normally people have different methods to relax. Stretching, sauna, music, foam rolls are just a few of them. The most important aspects are to find the balance between these methods. “We have two types of recovery. The first is the physical regeneration. The second is the mental regeneration. Some methods can cover both. But every method has an impact on both sides. You can’t divide them strictly,” says the German PhD-student.

Judokas in action

But why does Annika do studies in this field of sport science? Annika is a judoka and part of SUA Witten, a judo club in Germany. After her high school graduation, the Judoka started to study psychology at Ruhr University Bochum. From the beginning, she wanted to connect the sport with her field of profession. After her Master of Sciences at Henrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Annika returned to Bochum and started to work as a psychologist at the local faculty of sport science. Cause of her experiences in the field of sport, she understands the needs of athletes. “With my studies I want to underline that sport and success are more than programs and hard practices. We should also focus on the athletes’ needs. Coaches and scientists collect many data but often they forget to put the communication with the athlete into the equation. I want to change this. This is my motivation,” says the 25 years old German.


Monitoring is the first step to improve the recovery management. On behalf of the German federal institute of sport science, Prof. Michael Kellmann and his research team in Bochum have developed a method to measure athlete’s acute recovery stress states within a short and time-efficient questionnaire. Its regular application can be a first step for a better recovery. “Monitoring is very important. With monitoring people actually see how they feel. This sounds a little bit weird, because normally you would think that you already know how you feel. But sometimes it’s not that obvious. Therefore, it’s helpful to write down your level of stress and start to create some kind of diary,” explains Annika. Psychologists, sport scientists and other staff members can make use of this diary to start a conversation about the recovery management. But even athletes them self can use this method to think about their daily routine. “If you feel tired every Monday, you should check your schedule. Do you have stressful lectures at university? Do you have difficulties to start a new week? With the help of monitoring you can find individual techniques for regeneration”, says Annika. Nonetheless, the student athletes should seek further advice of an interdisciplinary team about their observations and thoughts.

Annika Hof zum Berge

Recovery management is very important for students and athletes. Everybody should think about individual techniques and ways to calm down and get new power for new tasks. Therefore start to stretch your muscles after every session before resting a bit. For more information, visit the project website or contact Annika directly.

Are you a student with an opinion? We are looking for new contributors for our student column every month. Feel free to contact stc@eusa.eu to offer a piece or propose a topic.