3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Recovery
As an athlete working toward a competitive goal or an exerciser who is just looking to look and feel better, you’ve probably encountered a few bumps along the way. Sore tendons, tight
muscles and stiffness are common companions along the journey to looking and feeling better – especially as we age.
Healing for athletes (yes, YOU are an athlete!) is a key component to successful training. You are pushing your body on a regular basis, so you’ve got to include recovery as a part of your plan.
A study conducted by Gatorade Sports Science Institute found that “Athletic performance is
affected by numerous aspects and therefore, adequate recovery should also consider such
Such elements include:
- The volume and intensity of training and competition
- Degree of fatigue and recovery from previous events
- Stress and anxiety from competition
- Lifestyle factors – relationships, social life, sleep patterns, job and/or school demands
- Health – injuries, illness
- Environment – temperature, humidity, altitude
If you are in the midst of your fitness routine and you’re battling some issues, these three
things can make an impact on your recovery right now:
1. Contrast Water Therapy (CWT) – Athletes have been immersing in hot and cold water
for years and generally agree that CWT makes them feel better. Recent research on competitive cyclists proved the theory – with 6 minute sessions – one minute in hot water (101 degrees), one minute in cold (58 degrees) the most effective at improving subsequent athletic performance.
You can take advantage of this therapy in your own bath or shower. Make sure that
your water temperature is not too mild!
2. Stretching/Foam Rolling – Two incredibly easy ways to enhance recovery are
techniques which could be used before and after exercise:
- Stretching: Your training can cause your muscles to have a decreased range of
motion which can lead to injury over time if you're not diligent. Stretching reduces tightness in tendons and muscles and increases range of motion.
Stretching also provides a number of healing properties to muscles, such as:
muscle balance, flexibility, circulation, relaxation and even psychological
Check out this information for more on stretching from Humankinetics.com.
- Foam rolling: Fascia is the soft part of the connective tissues in your muscles.
Inflammation can occur if the fascia becomes limited because of overuse,
inactivity or injury.
According to Breakingmuscle.com, foam rolling has long been considered a super
effective tool for self-myofascial release (SMR).
Now research shows that, “… SMR of the quadriceps, or potentially any other
muscle for that matter, was an effective treatment method to increase range of
motion without suffering muscle performance. Only two minutes of foam rolling
displayed increases in the range of motion in the quadriceps muscles. ”
3. Therapeutic Treatments – The saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of
cure” could have been written about athletic training. You wouldn’t buy a Ferrari and
then never take it for servicing. The same is true for your body.
Are you sticking to a highly disciplined training schedule that allows for a day off? Complement these much-needed active rest days with athletic restorative treatments:
- Massage – According to Sportsinjuryclinic.net, the rewards of massage for
athletes can’t be underrated. They include physical, psychological and physiological benefits ranging from increasing circulation, breaking down scar tissue and improving elasticity to
relaxation and pain and anxiety reduction.
- Acupuncture – This ancient Chinese practice has been healing people for
thousands of years. Acupuncture on a regular basis can keep your muscular and
vital energy balanced.
Combining acupuncture with physical therapy and modalities like ultrasound and
electrical stimulation can keep a simple overuse injury from becoming a
condition that sidelines you from your activities for months.
- Food Therapy – The root of most human performance is the food we take in.
Obviously a more colorful diet, rich in veggies and high quality proteins/fats, helps your athletic machine function at a better level but there are specific foods that can address nagging issues that may be dragging down your performance.
Food therapy can improve athletic recovery by aiding in respiratory health,
fatigue, digestive health and insomnia. In addition, the value of learning what
foods to eat and when, can take your training and competition to the next level.
Serious fitness calls for a measured approach during and after your exercise. Incorporate these
tips into your exercise routine and you’ll improve recovery which in turn will boost your fitness
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