Olympic mogul medalist Shannon Bahrke uses simple recovery techniques and supplements to help put her in championship condition after several knee surgeries.
By Dan Sanchez
It takes lots of dedication and a commitment to any sport to become an Olympic champion. Just ask Shannon Bahrke, who took home a bronze medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver in the Moguls competition. With several silver and bronze Olympic and FIS World Freestyle Championship medals to her distinction, we all remained glued to the television sets watching Bahrke ski her way to the podium. But what many people don’t know, is that one of her greatest feats was to consistently come back to pro-form after several debilitating knee injuries.
Part of Bahrke’s success is due to her perseverance and the steps she takes to prevent injuries and improve her performance with proper recovery techniques. This is one aspect that many amateur and weekend outdoor athletes don’t always take into consideration. Many outdoor athletes spend entire weekends in intense conditions that include rock climbing, trail running, backpacking, mountain biking, hiking and even skiing and snowboarding. Without proper stretching, rest and even using some supplements to improve recovery, injuries are likely to occur. “I think that recovery is one of the most overlooked part of building and maintaining a healthy body,” says Bahrke. “We always think that more (training) is better but as I’ve learned, you must work hard and then allow all of that hard work to settle in the body.”
After intense workouts Bahrke takes the time to recover using a variety of low-impact methods. “I really like to do active recoveries such as easy yoga, a long strolling walk, an easy swim, a half-hour massage or simply rolling around on a foam roller for 30 minutes,” says Bahrke. “These activities allow your body to recover while still getting a little movement in your day.” Part of Bahrke’s regimen also includes supplements that have helped her recover from a torn ACL, partially torn MCL and damage to the meniscus. “When I went through my first ACL knee surgery I thought the result was just how my knees were always going to be. Then I started to take some supplements to improve joint discomfort and stiffness.”
One of the products Bahrke uses is Nutriex Sport, which contains glucosamine and chondroitin, as well as minerals, vitamins and natural antioxidants that all help with recovery. “I don’t really know the science behind it all, but I do know that it helps in my joint discomfort and stiffness,” she says. A number of clinical trials and studies have shown that glucosamine and chondroitin may improve joint cartilage and relieve discomfort. “After two weeks of supplements, my knees felt better than they did prior to my surgery. Now, taking supplements, along with a proper training and recovery, is a part of my every day routine and I know my knees definitely thank me!”
With this in mind, Bahrke also likes to take a preemptive approach and includes strength training in her routine to help prevent additional injuries. “There are a lot of things that we train for as elite mogul skiers. Mogul skiing is very demanding on ALL parts of your body, but I would say the most important muscles to keep strong are your quads, hamstrings, lower back, core, and butt.” she says. Some of the exercises Bahrke recommends to strengthen her performance and prevent additional knee injuries include:
1) Overhead Squats that targets the quadriceps, butt, back and core.
2) Back Extensions that work hamstrings, butt and back.
3) Plank poses that work the core and back.
“These are a few of the basic moves. Anyone should also go ahead and get creative to also make it fun,” she adds.
Another essential part of Bahrke’s recovery methods is to ensure that she eats meals that included good portions of protein and fewer carbs. “I’m not very good at keeping track of the minor details, but I do know that protein is a huge part of an athlete’s diet.”
Bahrke’s simple techniques to recover from serious knee injuries and quickly get back to medal contention is proof that proper training and recovery can not only add to the performance of your outdoor sport, but also prevent further deterioration of joints and ligaments as we age. Shannon Bahrke is now part of the Nutriex athlete advisory panel. You can get more information on Nutriex supplements by visiting www.nutriex.com