Mar 9, 2018
Prepare & Recover

When it comes to game preparation and recovery, the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team follows a careful regimen. An article from Inside Carolina explains that Doug Halverson, MA, ATC, CSCS, Head Athletic Trainer, and Jonas Sahratian, MS, CSCS, Strength and Conditioning Coordinator, do a lot of work behind the scenes to get the squad ready.

Before games and practices, Halverson and Sahratian lead exercises and help with stretches.

“Countless hours with Doug and Jonas,” Theo Pinson, senior at UNC, said. “Just not trying to go home, staying in and getting treatment. Doug and Jonas do a good job of getting us ready for each and every game. With us being veterans we know how our body works and what can get us back going better.”

For the Tar Heels, this includes a three-step process that includes stretching, soft tissue care, and hydration/fuel. Each step is scheduled for the maximal benefit.

Before a game or practice, the focus is on getting the student athletes refueled. This includes a lot of water and food to be ready on the court. Afterward, getting re-hydrated is another key.

Soft tissue care comes next, both before and after games or practices. Before a game, the squad uses foam rollers to boost blood flow and engage the central nervous system. In turn, this improves flexibility, reduces pain, and helps muscles. For a pre-workout setting, foam rolling can also help with range of motion; afterward, it’s all about preventing soreness.

After practices or games, the squad uses contrast therapy. The Tar Heels alternate between hot and cold tubs.

“It is a lot of the contrast — hot tub, cold tub stuff,” Kenny Williams, UNC Junior and Starting Shooting Guard, said. “I’ll start in the hot and go cold, hot, cold, hot, cold.”

Williams stays in each tub for three minutes. By alternating between hot and cold, muscle tissues are forced to adapt to sudden changes. This stimulation helps to reduce swelling and soreness.

After a win over Michigan, Luke Maye, a Junior at UNC, was eager to start this form of recovery. “I am going to go get in the cold tub here in a minute,” Maye told reporters. “I think a lot of guys do that, especially guys that play extended minutes. We’ve just got to recover tomorrow.”

The soft tissue focus includes more than foam rollers and contrast therapy, though. The Tar Heels also use alternative therapies.

“We have a lot of things,” Williams said. “Doug and Jonas make sure our legs are right. We do the cupping, the NormaTec.”

Cupping involves suction to help blood flow and reduce inflammation, and to act as a form of deep-tissue massage. The NormaTec device molds around the legs to encourage rapid recovery through a pulsed massage.

“It just compresses and stops the blood flow. It lets go and then get the blood flowing again,” Williams said. “You can do it however long you want really. I usually do it 20 to 30 minutes.”

Getting enough rest when there are multiple games in a short amount of time can be tough. Coordinating resources to use on the road is also a challenge.

“I think our team does a great job and our strength and conditioning coach and our trainer do a good job of setting up recovery times for us to come and get our legs right,” Joel Berry, a Senior Point Guard for UNC, said. “When we went to the PK80 tournament they did a great job of taking us to the cold plunging where we were able to do the hot tub/cold tub and able to do the steam room. They do a great job of being able to find resources to keep our legs together and keep our bodies moving.”

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