Updated: May 29, 2019
An interesting depiction of low energy support is during the television show, 'Naked and Afraid'. 2 people are dropped off in an unknown territory, butt naked! And! They have to fend for themselves with minimal food and lifestyle support (energy support). Over 21 days their energy levels decrease physically and emotionally. They start having difficulty making critical and creative decisions. And! Difficulty sleeping!
On a game day or practice day, hockey players can expend high amounts of energy with VERY LITTLE energy replenishment. As a result, hockey players can have MUSCLE LOSS, fatigue, irritability, poor relaxation, and POOR SLEEP. If you watch the television show, the contestants have similar signs of stress. Now, are hockey players in the same scenario as the television show? Not necessarily. However, the concept of LOW ENERGY SUPPORT TO MEET THE DEMANDS OF THE GAME makes a lot of sense.
When players expend high amounts of energy with LOW ENERGY SUPPORT, it can lead to difficulty recovering. However, an interesting caveat, if you watch the television show, most of the contestants are exhausted. To the point where they want to lay around. BUT! It does not appear they sleep well. In other words, they are exhausted and yet they don't sleep well.
Notice how hockey players can be exhausted after a long game day, and yet, they have trouble relaxing and sleeping. If the body does not have the right ENERGY SUPPORT on a daily basis, it can be FATIGUED and RESTLESS. Come bed time, the body may not have enough ENERGY TO RELAX! If the body does not have enough ENERGY TO RELAX, then wakefulness can be more likely.
Besides the idea of wakefulness, let's examine and think intimately about energy (calories) expended on a game day. Many people in the hockey culture can think energy expended only happens during a game. For a competitive player at Junior, College, and Professional, could have the following on a game day:
1. Warm up for morning skate.
2. Morning skate.
3. Prehab after morning skate.
4. Drive home for pregame nap.
5. Or, depending on the level, some teams travel to their game during the afternoon. For example, when I was working the St. Louis Blues AHL Team, the Peoria Rivermen, we would drive 2.5 hours to Rockford for a 7pm game. There were beds on the bus, but if you ask many of the players, it wasn't near as comfortable as relaxing at home for their pregame nap. (If we are getting into details, imagine the shaking and vibrations of the bus increasing stress on the player's body.)
6. Once arriving at the rink for the game, players could warm up for 30-90 minutes 'Off Ice".
7. Then they have a 15-25 minute 'On Ice Warm Up'. In North America, it would be 15 minutes; When I was working in Hungary, I noticed it was 25 minutes.
8. Then there's a 3 period game. There are breaks in between periods, however, the heart and body temperature still has elevation. Therefore, stress is still elevated in between periods.
9. Sometimes, they're can be overtime and shootouts.
10. Once the team gets off the ice, some players might bag themselves on a bike or treadmill or do a post game workout. Sometimes, players would start riding the bike in the sauna after games.
Think about these 10 different scenarios that can cause high amounts of energy expenditure on a game day. After looking at the big picture, could it make more sense why players struggle with relaxation after games? If we go back to the television show for a thought, everyday for 21 days, the contestants are going through the territory with virtually no food and unstable lifestyle conditions; ALL DAY THROUGHOUT THE DAY.
Now, back to a hockey game day> The players are going through an entire day of ENERGY DEPLETION; if players are having difficulty relaxing after games, it could make sense they are not replenishing with ENOUGH ENERGY SUPPORT. Again, with this television show, it's not the exact same situation as the severity of ENERGY DEPLETION is more intense. Think less about the differences and examine the similarities of the underlying themes.