I frequently get asked about recovery and what can be done to help assist that recovery after a big event.
The key is not to solely focus on your end game, but to incorporate recovery throughout your entire training program to ensure you maximise benefits and energy levels.
There is a real strategy to a well tailored recovery program. Here are our 7 strategies to improve your recovery:
7 Strategies to improve your recovery
Quality sleep is so important, as that is where your body restores from the day and manages fatigue.
To maximise good quality sleep ensure that:
- Your bedroom is both dark and quiet, but well ventilated.
- That your pillow and mattress are right for you. I’m not a big believer in that more expensive is necessarily better, just get the right product for you.
- Don’t eat a large, heavy meal prior to sleep, allow some time for digestion.
- Slowly ease your body into winding down by keep your evening lights dim and not having your TV blaring.
- Promote relaxation by doing your stretches and foam rolling before bed.
If you are not getting quality sleep and your always waking up tired then it is important to seek medical advice. Consulting a nutritionist might also be helpful as there are a range of supplements that can be easily sought out to promote a restful nights sleep!
If you really want to supercharge your recovery and boost the benefits of sleep then try hopping into our floatation tank. Float tanks are designed to aid enormously in recovery, fight fatigue and really nourish your muscles!
A large part of recovery is getting your nutrition right. Seeking out the services of a nutritionist will be so helpful in providing you with a tailored plan to optimise your strength and energy.
A good nutritional program will tell you:
- What to consume before and after races,
- Which meals and their composition are best for you in training,
- and what supplementation you would benefit most from.
Not only will this assist you with the energy required whilst training, it will also guide you to know which foods to eat more/less off. An excellent example here is eating more magnesium rich foods which can help with the effects of painful muscular cramps.
True hydration comes in the form of water.
Whilst there are many products on the market that claim to hydrate you, be mindful they often contain very high levels of both sugar and salt.
This isn’t a warning to not consume them, just do not think that everything liquid (ie coffee and alcohol) counts towards your daily hydration intake!
The more you exercise the greater your hydration requirements.
If you commonly do not feel thirst, try sipping water regularly rather than consuming large quantities at a time.
Adding lemon, lime or mint leaves to your water can often trick your body into thinking it is food and can stimulate your thirst.
Until Whole Body Cryotherapy is more available in Australia, harness the power of cold for your recovery in the form of ice baths and localised ice packs.
Cryotherapy is well researched and some of it’s benefits include:
- Inhibition of the inflammatory process. This results in the reduction of pain and swelling thus improving joint functionality quicker.
- Reduces Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) significantly
- When used as pre training it has been shown to improve peak levels of performance and reduce post workout lactate levels
- Increases muscle strength
- Happy benefits for fat loss by stimulating your metabolism!
- The exposure to cold causes a significant increase to blood circulation. This in turn boosts blood oxygenation levels and nutrients, whilst simultaneously removing toxins and toning muscles.
Having just spoken about the benefits of the cold, don’t assume that heat is without benefit!
Remember good recovery is about strategy. Different strategies work better for different people.
Muscles are full of blood and blood vessels are dilated when warm, allowing more blood to flow through. There is more and more research becoming available about how heat can be used in the early stages of injury. As a general rule though, use thermo therapy to benefit muscles that are sore and stiff.
Heat has pain relieving qualities, extensibility of collagen fibres decreasing joint stiffness and reducing muscles spasms and cramps.
Utilise whole body Thermo Therapy by way of infrared saunas or locally with heat packs.
If you have aches and pains that are not getting better with cryo therapy then switch to thermo or alternate between the two.
There really is nothing that beats a good pair of elbows and hands!
A normal component of exercise, especially regular, intense exercise is the wear and tear on your muscles. This leads to the forming of adhesions and active, painful trigger points!
All of these varieties of tension on the muscles put undue stress on the body. Trigger points have been shown to inhibit muscular strength and joint ROM as well as just being plain old painful!
It is imperative that every athlete have a recovery toolbox!
Here is what you need to look after and keep your muscles in check:
- Foam Roller – for long muscles (quads, calves, hamstrings, glutes max, lats)
- Myo Ball – smooth or spike – up to you for those harder to reach places (hips, hip flexors, rotator cuff and in between the shoulder blades – can also be used in the lumbar area)
- Pocket triangles – the only way to get into those very nasty active trigger points where a Myo ball just won’t do!
- Golf ball – for your plantar fascia, you can also use your pocket triangle here, but a golf ball will allow you to roll more effectively.
- Yoga Mat – to give you more incentive to stretch!
These tools are everything you need to have at home to maintain yourself within your program.
They are NOT a substitute for a good Massage!
There is no substitute for a good pair of elbows and thumbs that can just get in and get out what your tools cannot. There is also a lot to be said to the whole body relaxation offered by way of a Sports Massage
Nothing soothes tired aching muscles and promotes relaxation like a good bath!
To supercharge this soothing ensure you stock up on loads of Epsom Salts (natural ones not synthetic). Ensure that your bath is not too hot as you then stimulate a whole body inflammatory response, and you don’t want to do that.
The king of all baths is of course the Float tank. Heated only to body temperature and loaded with 350kgs of Epsom Salts, not only do you bathe but you also float!
This is the ultimate way to supercharge your recovery.
You can also read out the benefits in one of our top blogs “Why every athlete needs to hop into a float tank”
Recovery is all about strategy!
Far too many people do not put any effort into their recovery programs and think a bit of stretching here or there is all they need.
There are lots of tools available for your recovery, pick and choose what works for you and ensure you harness the power of true relaxation.
An additional key component, not yet mentioned is the importance of treatment. Injuries can occur at any stage, and they are best not left to get worse.
Our top 7 strategies to improve your recovery are all proactive in nature and will greatly assist you in minimising overuse injuries. The need for intervention at some stage will be required.
At this point, give our Sports Chiropractors a call on 02 9179 2060 to schedule your preferred appointment time.