Rules of recovery
I was recently asked in an interview about my recovery strategies and benefits of different techniques post training/competition. This then got me thinking just how much I rely on these methods on a day-to-day basis. I would even go as far as to say that through my experiences as an older athlete, they are equally as important as the training itself.
As bold a statement as that is, exercise undoubtedly puts your body through a lot of stresses that without addressing there and then could potentially further down the road lead to injuries or a decline in performance. Not only this, but recovering effectively will help to reduce DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and most importantly will allow for productive and higher intensity training in the following days.
So here are some of the different strategies that I use on a daily basis:
Deep Tissue massage
This one isn’t for the faint hearted as elbows and thumbs in those tight sore muscles sure is painful and potentially expensive depending on where you go but it can also be highly effective. It helps to loosen tired and stiff muscles and will promote flexibility and removal of waste products in the muscles.
A must have in any gym bag. Small, portable and cheap, this handy tool is used for self-massage to release tightness or trigger points.
This one’s definitely a love-hate relationship. However torturous and painful it may be to sit in ice cold water for 10 minute, I know the next day my legs will be feeling rejuvenated and ready to go again. This is done with the removal of lactic acid by constricting the blood vessels.
The tight clothing at times is perhaps not the most desirable it has been proven to aid with athletic performance before, during and after training and working out. Compression sportswear is a handy bit of kit that I use day-today to help relieve some of the stresses my body is put under during training.
As a gymnast, stretching has been drilled into me from a young age yet it’s only been the past few years that I’ve realised just how crucial it is. Not only does it help improve the range of motion in the limbs but it also reduces the chances of injury. So make sure you plan an extra 10 minutes at the end of training for touching those toes.
Last but not least we have the most vital and important way of resting, which of course is sleep! The majority of restoration within the muscles will take place whilst sleeping so making sure you get those 8 hours of sleep per night, which is crucial not just for the body but also mind.
So whether it be foam rolling, ice baths, deep tissue massages, wearing compression garments or simply stretching, they all can be highly beneficial. Though the key is being consistent with them and having a full night’s sleep. Go through the process of trial and error with all the different areas so that you know months in advance which works for you and which doesn’t in the lead up to an event. Even if you only gain an extra 1% from recovering properly, that 1% could be the difference between success and failure.