The influence recovery can have on performance: top manager in the sports industry Bernd Wahler gives his personal insight into his experiences.
With a smile, he says that he'd have been a professional footballer but a certain Hansi Müller was simply better in his position. Despite this, nobody would think that Bern Wahler didn't understand how to achieve goals: he's spent many years working for Adidas and Nike in top management positions in Germany and the USA, founded his own sports marketing agency and was also president of VfB Stuttgart.
There's virtually no better person to talk to than the BLACKROLL® board member when it comes to discussing the influence of activation and recovery on personal performance.
Daily activation and recovery have become an important topic. This also applies to people with stressful professional lives. How do you approach it?
Bernd Wahler: Activation and recovery are often only associated with performance sport. But I think it's something we can all take and learn from performance sport. When someone activates themselves - I do it in the morning - I simply feel loads better.
Now, when I think about the many managers that have to achieve high performance and plan the entire day like performance athletes, activation and recovery are essential.
"For example, around 22 years ago I started taking power naps at lunchtime. I'd take out my yoga mat and simply lie on the office floor for 15 minutes every lunchtime. "
It was incredible to see how much my ability to concentrate and perform increased, particularly after lunchtime, between 1 and 3 pm. This regeneration time makes you much more active and focussed in meetings and also improves your mood.
I recommend this to everyone, no matter what the area is in which they need to perform. Whether it's sport, at work or in your private life. And that's just one example. There are so many other things. Sleep is naturally key for recovery. I believe the sooner you get used to it and build a routine that promotes good sleeping habits, the more effective and healthier your life will be.
Has the topic of targeted activation and recovery been wrongly portrayed until now?
Bernd Wahler: I wouldn't say wrongly portrayed but rather underestimated, since it simply wasn't addressed. I mean, I studied sport more than 40 years ago and theoretical background knowledge of activation and recovery was already discussed. Despite this, we spent far more time thinking about how to increase performance. Through optimal training and intervals, up and down, left and right. Recovery was simply tolerated, everyone does it anyway. Everyone sleeps, wakes up and recovers. However, I think it's been underestimated until recently how much more you can get out of it.
Through your various sports management roles you've had intense contact with top athletes across all disciplines and good insight into the entire industry. In your opinion, are there athletes who could have achieved more through conscious activation and recovery?
Bernd Wahler: I can only speculate as no tests have been carried out.
"But I think that athletes like Boris Becker or Andre Agassi must have had to stop playing tennis relatively early on because their bodies were unable to recover well enough to play at the top level. "
If you consider today that a Roger Federer or basically the top tennis players are all over 30 - that was unimaginable back then. And I believe that analysing the topic of recovery has played a major role in this.
It's a clear observation that professional footballers have 17 top performances but can also play for much longer. Manuel Neuer for example is far from the end of his career simply because he trains properly and better incorporates things such as recovery into his training plan. This can significantly extend a career and I promote a healthier life after their career too.
I'm talking about lots of athletes and tennis or handball players, in sports that are physically demanding and in which until relatively recently, athletes had to end their careers because they couldn't compete anymore.
Has a lot changed in this area over the past few years?
Bernd Wahler: Yes, it's changing at the moment. Companies like BLACKROLL® are making an important contribution as BLACKROLL® isn't just developing products but also the science behind them, the medicine, the physios, etc.
And, of course, the many trainers who know what can be used and how each day to recover better.
Do you know how many BLACKROLL® products you have at home and which ones you regularly use?
Bernd Wahler: I think the question should be which BLACKROLL® don't I have at home? I'd say I've got all of them. Perhaps not in all versions, but I've got a lot of them.
And yes, unfortunately I also need most of them (laughs).
Yes, I've even got the NEEDLEROLLER. It's a roller with needles. It's great for stimulating the skin. The Booster and Roller in all different versions. The bands that I also use every day. So yeah, I'd say I not only have most of the products but I also use them all.
Then you must surely have a favourite BLACKROLL® product?
Bernd Wahler: Yes, without doubt the BLACKROLL® Recovery Pillow. The right pillow is essential for a good, relaxing sleep and it's a truly sensational sleep with the Recovery Pillow. I always take it with me whenever I travel. This pillow is really great. I've recommended the Recovery Pillow to lots of people and only ever received positive feedback. It doesn't just seem to be me who has a great quality sleep with this pillow
What role will recovery play in future?
Bernd Wahler: I think it will become even more important. That doesn't mean losing sight of other issues though. But I think that the topic of recovery in general will become more significant because it simply enhances performance.
Athletes and professionals have a fundamental interest in enhancing their performance. People need to feel better on a daily basis. Recovery is usually easier than putting yourself under stress until you can't do any more.
"Everyone benefits instantly from recovering well, so that recovery will become more important in general sport, high-performance sport, daily life, at work and anywhere where people are put under pressure. "
For example, in recent years at Adidas I took walks while holding direct reports with my coworkers. Every Tuesday at 1 pm, after lunch, I'd go walking in the forest with a coworker for an hour. It was really well received.
For me, it was great to hold a meeting outside of the office. I didn't really consider the regenerative effect back then.
The longer we did it, the more relaxing and restorative it became. When you go for a walk with someone you work with on an otherwise purely professional basis and simply say: hey, how are you doing? How's your wife? What are your children up to? Simply taking an hour out to do something different was great.
And now, 10 years later, when I occasionally talk to former colleagues and employees, the topic often comes up. Many people have carried it on and still do it today. And so I believe that the topic of recovery is simply letting go to unleash an incredible power.