Can a Weighted Blanket Speed Athletic Recovery?

Athletes are expected to perform and be in their best form consistently. This calls for a disciplined fitness regime, healthy food habits, mental stability and a drive to always push themselves to the limits. The demanding and intense physicality of an athlete’s life can take its toll on their body in the form of injuries, accidents and overexertion. Getting a good rest is hence pivotal, not just for good performance, but also for a speedy recovery. The importance of a weighted blanket in this regard cannot be underestimated. Read on to find out about its role in accelerating the athletic recovery and healing process.

Better Sleep

It is a proven fact that weighted blankets can improve sleep which is extremely important for people who have a physically active profession and lifestyle. A 2018 report in Sports Medicine reviewed the findings of multiple studies and reached the conclusion that more sleep means better athletic performance. Sleep deprivation will impact performance negatively. The reason why athletes need more sleep than non-athletes is because sleep is the foundation of recovery, the time when cells regenerate. 

Less Anxiety

Since sportsmen are so used to an active lifestyle, it can be quite distressing and often frustrating if their movements or abilities are restricted or limited due to some form of injury or illness. Their anxiety levels can reach quite high in such circumstances. A weighted blanket can help decrease this to a considerable extent. Its pressure puts your autonomic nervous system into rest mode and helps reduce symptoms such as fast breathing and increased heart rate. According to a 2008 study in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 63 percent of the participants showed a drop in anxiety levels following the use of a 30-pound weighted blanket. 

Provides Compression

Compression plays a big role in athletic recovery. Many athletes use RICE (Rest Ice Compress Elevate), a method used to promote healing after injury. Compression can be used for more than just strains or sprained ankles. Studies have found that using compression tights on exercise-induced muscle damage have a very positive effect. This is because compression increases blood circulation. When your limbs are compressed, the veins are squeezed, forcing blood to flow to your heart where it is reoxygenated. The oxygen-rich blood is then pushed back to the muscles to repair them quickly. A weighted blanket adds mass and bulk onto your body, simulating the effects of compression. This can help the inflammation or swelling to simmer down more quickly. 

Eases Pain without Drugs

At times the pain of an injury may be severe and taking over the counter medications or other drugs repeatedly may come with side-effects. This is something that is generally not preferred by an athlete neither recommended by their fitness instructor or doctor. A weighted blanket is a natural and safe alternative to such a situation. It uses DTP (Deep Touch Pressure) to increase serotonin (the happy chemical) and helps to bring on sleep. Achieving a good sleep allows the body to reset its response to pain and increase its pain threshold. 

Enhances Oxytocin

The pressure of a weighted blanket is similar to that of a hug; it provides warmth and a sense of security. This feeling of being held encourages your body to produce the hormone oxytocin which helps in relieving stress and boosts your immune system. Oxytocin also plays a role in lowering blood pressure and improves the quality of sleep. 

Reduces Restlessness

When confined to a bed or room for resting purposes, an athlete might get restless and impatient. If they are constantly tossing and turning in the bed, the body will not get the rest it needs to heal. A weighted blanket is a good solution to reduce this restlessness. The blanket has evenly distributed weights that provide a gentle downward force across the body. This helps in deterring movement and encourages stillness during sleep. 

Reduces Cortisol

The constant or excessive release of the hormone cortisol leads to a perpetual state of stress which slows down the healing process. The DTP (Deep Touch Pressure) that a weighted blanket provides can recalibrate the body’s cortisol production and help bring it back to normal. This means less stress and a calmer state of mind which naturally boosts the recovery of the injured or ill sportsperson. 

Aids Muscle Recovery

The weighted blanket helps rebuild and replenish sore muscles and joints by providing relaxation which leads to sleep thereby enabling a full-body release. Deep sleep is essential for our muscles and tissues to fully heal and restore. Without a restful sleep, the pains and aches will continue for longer and the athlete would be at a higher risk of re-injuring himself. 

Other Recovery Tools that Actually Work

Under Armour’s Athlete Recovery Sleepwear

The sports apparel company offers sleepwear that is lined with a material called Celliant (regulated by the FDA). It improves blood flow, oxygenation and helps regulate the body temperature so you do not wake up because of feeling too cold or too hot. In this way it plays a role in promoting better sleep which translates into faster recovery of the sportsperson. 

Whoop Fitness Tracker 

You’ll find plenty of fitness trackers in the market, but if you want to convert the data into valuable information, then Whoop Fitness Tracker is the answer. It mainly provides information regarding three categories namely strain, recovery and sleep performance. This means that it will first measure the strain endured during a day through your heart beat. The levels will show up on a 21-point scale. Next, it will tell you about your sleep performance by bringing forth all aspects such as the number of disturbances, stages of sleep and total time slept. Lastly and most importantly, it calculates your recovery score based on your heart rate variability and resting heart rate. A high HRV and low RHR means that the body has recovered and the sportsperson is ready for action. 

Percussion Gun

Percussion Gun is another effective recovery tool for quick athletic recovery. It provides deep oscillation massage which is safe for joint pains and muscle aches. With deep muscle stimulator technology, the gun improves blood flow, removes knots in muscles and helps in the healing of scar tissues. 

Vybe is one of the top brands when it comes to percussion guns. It is as useful for warming up muscles as it is for cooling them down. The gun not only enables faster recovery, but also helps prevent sports injuries. This is because if it is used before a workout or training session, it will increase the body’s flexibility as well as improve muscle mobility. With different speed options, it is capable of pumping out thousands of percussions per minute. It’s good value for money and weighs few pounds which makes it easy to hold and carry (comes with a travel case).