Player Welfare: Recovery

Player Welfare: Recovery

The recent return to rugby after almost a year away from our beloved clubrooms, fields and team mates has been everything! But one thing we’re all noticing now is the impact on our bodies. Rugby is not a gentle sport and feeling sore and bruised is normal after training or games, but especially when we’ve been out for so long. Recovery is something every rugby player should prioritise, whether we’re playing for fun, or for our country. It means looking after our bodies so we can play at our best each week and avoiding nasty injuries and niggles along the way. But the reality is, it’s often the first thing to fall by the way side. We know what it’s like - it’s late, it’s cold, we’re hungry and often the last thing on our mind is recovery. But we all know we’ll pay the price with stiff, sore muscles if we don’t put some TLC back into our bodies. As part of our Player Welfare series, we’re determined to make you aware of how important recovery is and why you should make time for it – all the time! We’ve joined forces with the brilliant team at Newton Wood® to talk about recovery and how their Epsom salt crystals can work wonders for our bodies this season, and we’re sharing some top recovery hacks from our very own Girls Rugby Club Advisory Board members including some of the best players in the world.
  • What are Epsom Salt crystals and where do they come from?

Newton Wood® Epsom salt crystals are pure magnesium sulphate which is a naturally occurring mineral. It is a traditional remedy that has been around for over 400 years! We actually took our name from the area of Epsom where the therapeutic properties of this natural occurring mineral were discovered, Newton Wood. Our crystals are unique, however, in that they are free from any additives, fragrances or anti-caking agents and they have a beautiful diamond like structure and smooth texture which makes them perfect not only for pouring in the bath after a long training session but also for mixing with your shower gel for a gentle body scrub. This is perfect is you are on the go or if you aren’t a fan of baths.
  • What makes Newton Wood® crystals different to other Epsom Salts?

There are two main differences between Newton Wood® and other Epsom salt:
  1. Our crystals are 100% pure magnesium sulphate
This means there are no additives, perfumes, chemicals, anti-caking agents or any other nasties which other brands tend to add in.
  1. Our crystals can be used in the shower, as a facial cleanser and loads more
Thanks to the unique diamond like structure and smooth texture of our Epsom salt crystals they can be used in a variety of ways and are even suitable for sensitive skin. You can mix our crystals with your shower gel for a full body scrub – perfect if you are on the go as you can still feel the full benefit of this natural product without needing to lie in the bath for 20 minutes. You can mix our crystals with your facial cleanser for a gentle exfoliation, to your shampoo for a deep scalp cleanse or to your conditioner to rebalance your hair and add volume. You can also add our crystals to warm water for a soothing hand or foot soak.
  • How do they work to aid recovery from sport?

Magnesium is a vital mineral for all of us as it is involved in more than 300 metabolic reactions in the body ranging from maintaining blood pressure to supporting our immune systems (which is incredibly important at the moment)! However, it is particularly important in sports recovery because it helps to loosen tight muscles therefore reducing the risk of injury. It does this by moving blood sugar into your muscles and disposing of lactate acid, which also helps to prevent fatigue. If your body is lacking in magnesium your muscles can’t relax which can lead to painful cramps. Scientists suggest that during exercise or sport you may need 10-20% more magnesium than when you are resting so it’s super important that you have sufficient levels of this important mineral when you are training or playing. Did you know? Studies have shown that you can boost your magnesium level more via transdermal absorption (by taking it in through the skin) than by taking supplements alone! This is because when you take oral supplements they have to pass through your gut during digestion and inevitably some of the supplement will be filtered out as waste. However, when you bathe in magnesium i.e. Epsom salt you don’t have this problem as it passes straight through the skin and into the body meaning that you absorb more! This is why it’s important to note that our crystals are pure magnesium so you can be sure that you are absorbing magnesium only and no additional nasties. So, next time you’re having a relaxing shower or bath be sure to add our crystals to the water or to your body wash so that you can top up your magnesium at the same time!
  • What are the different ways I can use them for my recovery from training, games and even injury?

We recommend regular use i.e. little and often so that you are constantly maintaining your magnesium levels. Ideally using our crystals in your bath or shower two – three times per week will help to keep your body on top form. If you have a big competition coming up or a strenuous programme, then you may want to increase this to four-five times per week to compensate for the additional demand you are placing on your body during this time. Epsom salts also have natural anti-inflammatory properties so they are great for reducing swelling should you unfortunately suffer an injury in practice or during a game. Simply bathe the affected area in a bowl of warm water, add our Epsom salt crystals and soak for 10-15 mins. Do this 2-3 times per day depending on the nature of your injury.* *This is not a substitute for medical treatment, and we would advise seeking the advice of a medical practitioner in relation to any injury.
  • Can they help to soothe any abrasions and bruises we might get from playing rugby?

Yes, as a natural anti-inflammatory our Epsom salt crystals can help reduce the swelling and therefore bruising. As above, simply soak the affected area in a bowl of warm water and add our crystals. Continue to do this two-three times per day to limit the effects of your injury and get you back on your feet in no time at all.
  • What about the bedtime routine – do the crystals promote better sleep?

Absolutely and again, there are two reasons for this:
  1. Lowering your body temperature
It sounds counter-intuitive at first but studies show that relaxing in a warm bath or shower before bed can actually help to lower our body temperature by encouraging the blood to come to the surface of our skin. This enables our body to let off heat. Consequently, our body temperature drops. So, despite us feeling warm and cosy, our body temperature actually lowers. This drop in temperature taps into our natural circadian rhythm which requires our bodies to be cooler at night and warmer during the day. Our brain processes the drop in body temperature and interprets it as a signal we will be going to bed soon and therefore starts preparing for sleep.
  1. Our crystals support the production of melatonin
There are lots of studies which show that magnesium helps to support the production of melatonin in our brains. Melatonin is the hormone which regulates our sleep-wake cycle. Our melatonin levels are higher in the evening and lower during the day. So, adding our Epsom salt crystals to your bath or shower before bed helps to promote the production of even more melatonin which will help to prepare you for a great night’s sleep.
  • What other uses might be of interest for female athletes?

Our crystals can also be mixed with your shampoo for a deep scalp cleanse. This is great for oily hair types. Alternatively, you can mix our crystals with your hair conditioner to rebalance and help lock in moisture. This is good for those with dry, brittle hair. It can be particularly useful if you are playing in extreme weather conditions for example in the height of summer or winter as our hair tends to become dry and dehydrated in both. This is a great, natural way to restore your hair and keep it healthy all year round.
  • Where can I purchase Newton Wood® Epsom Salt crystals?

Newton Wood® Epsom salt crystals are available on the Girls Rugby Club website

And here are some recovery hacks direct from our very own Girls Rugby Club Advisory Board members. Spot the international rugby superstars!

Rachael Burford
Cryo Chamber
Zainab Alema
Muscle soak with bath salts
Shaunagh Brown
Wheelie bin ice bath
Leanne Riley
A good soak in bath salts
Shannon Parry
Recovery boots e.g. NormaTec
Sarah Abd Elbaki
Contrast hot and cold showers
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Emily Scarratt
Good food and compression skins/tights
Alice Soper
Hot and colds in the shower
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Rhona Lloyd
Fuel with food
Claire Cruikshank
Compression pumps
Atlanta St John
Mobility or yoga session
Jade Konkel
Eating right and a good sleep
Susan Dawson
Light activity the next day and a stretch or massage
Charlie Willett
Hot bath and yoga
Alana Thomas
Sleep, stretch and ice bath
Victoria Rush

There's still time to sign up for one of our girls rugby camps!



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