Recovery, post workout nutrition, massage, acupuncture, hot tub, steam room, therapy session; all words that are typically related to an indulgence, a treatment. While these are indeed treatments for our body, they are essential to our progress with our fitness and our health. Many of us are working towards something, and when we enter the gym or a training session we go 100% after it. We have a specific task, movement or goal that we are trying to achieve by working day in and day out, and set and rep after another. However, many people don’t get enough nutrients, enough sleep or enough recovery to help them go into the next workout even stronger. As I write this, I am 15 weeks out from my next NPC bikini competition. I have qualified to compete on a national level and guess what the competition is going to be that much stronger. My training and intensity has graduated to another level and will continue until I peak on May 30th. To give you some insight on my training, I am currently lifting 6 days a week, 1-2 days a week of high intensity cardio training, 1 day a week or every other week of bikram yoga. As I get closer to May 30th, the lifting will stay at 6 days, my cardio will increase to 3-5 days per week and my yoga will be when I can fit it in! Knowing my training schedule and my body, I have to incorporate in the recovery!
The recovery in my eyes is absolutely essential. The post workout nutrition and food intake in general is a game changer, but even more so when you are expecting your body to look and perform at a certain level. Eating clean, hydrating, and supplementing affect each workout based on what you have or have not fueled your body with. Since working with Chaya Boone and Team Epic Figures, my diet has been at its best. With Chaya’s help, I have realized how much I actual need to take in if I expect my body to be ready when I hit the stage. I know many people are thinking diet and cutting calories, but I have increased my overall macronutrient (carbs-yes!, protein and fat) and since then my body fat has been at its leanest. While nutrition can be its own separate novel, let’s keep it simple with eating clean and keeping hydrated!
The second aspect to keeping the body strong and healthy is the post workout recovery.
“Recovery. The forgotten phase of exercise that is the biggest predictor of performance and injury. Post-exercise athletes are faced with muscle fatigue, soreness, and inflammation that typically take 48 hours or more to leave the body…”
Depending on individuals and their training, active rest and recovery can mean all sorts of things. However, here are my top 10 favorite recovery tools:
Foam rollers, yoga tune up balls and The Stick. These three items are great for improving soft tissue, relaxing the muscle, and allowing proper activation of the muscles, and should be used daily. All of mine are in my living room to grab and stretch while the tv is on or in between playing with my son.
Steam room: That extra heat and humidity allow for improved blood circulation, toxin removal and joint pain relief. After I sit for a few minutes and allow my body to fully warm-up, I always spend some time holding stretches while in the steam room.
Infrared Sauna: The same benefits as the steam room and allows the body to relax especially after the stress of a hard workout. Fortunately, I have one of these at work (Oasis Women's Fitness & Spa) that I like to take a few minutes each day to relax in.
Pool: After a big leg workout, I like to do some pool running. It reminds of 2 a days in pre-season for college soccer and the team running and doing a workout to alleviate the soreness and improve the range of motion . We were able to get our heart rates up without the pounding on our joints.
Cold/Hot Tub: Cold Water Therapy = Faster Recovery. By removing lactic acid, reducing swelling and normalizing adrenaline production, the body can recover faster from intense training. Cold therapy also reduces injury recovery time by quickly treating acute sports injuries. Hot Water Therapy = Balanced Muscles. As blood vessels dilate, blood flow is increased throughout the body helping to flush metabolic waste and relax the muscles. Looser muscles mean greater flexibility and less risk of injury in future training sessions. While I did make it the full amount of time during my first cold plunge session, surprisingly I found new aches that were alleviated while the chronic injuries felt much relief.
Electro Stim: Stim uses electrical currents to stimulate the muscle patterns demonstrated in active recovery, but without the impact on joints and tendons. The result is increased blood flow and eliminated waste to the fatigued areas of treatment.
Recovery Pump Boots: After training, the body needs to clear metabolic waste and restore the natural delivery of oxygen and plasma to the muscles – RecoveryPump boots do all of this while you (literally) sit. Using the phrase "Aggressive Recovery," these boots can be used daily to treat fatigued muscles. After my first session with the boots I didn’t notice anything until the next day. I decided to hop on the treadmill. My plan was to warm-up with a mile run, but instead I ran 5 miles and in my fastest time without 100% effort...my legs felt that fresh!
Acupuncture: When the inserted needles stimulate the acupuncture points, the body releases endorphins, a natural painkiller. The endorphins provide rapid—often long-lasting relief—and patients usually feel the results after one treatment. Working at the source of the pain helps decrease inflammation, increases range of motion, and boosts the immune system. I am somewhat new to acupuncture, only receiving treatment for the last year and a half, however I am now religious about getting it every month. Dr. Eumi with Back in Balance is terrific and explains what and why is going on with the body.
Massage: Not only is it relaxing, but it helps improve circulation, range of motion, alleviates muscle pain and reduces stress. Depending on my training cycle, a deep tissue massage is in my schedule 1-2x per month.
Yoga: This exercise elongates all of the muscles that athletes spend so long contracting, so it is a great counter-action. I personally enjoy the benefits of the heat and the moving meditation that Bikram Yoga incorporates into the session. (tuned for a Bikram Yoga event in the near future)
There are tons of recovery options to incorporate into your post workout regime. Just as it is important to get the lift, cardio session or meal in, it is just as important to incorporate the recovery session. Take the time to foam roll, add in a yoga class, enjoy sitting in a steam room or find the balance that works for. To make sure you start your recovery ASAP, join me and attend this event!
Join me on Saturday February 21st from 3pm-5pm at the Edge Athlete Lounge for a 2 hour recovery session! You will have your chance at the cold/hot tub, stim, recovery boots and the opportunity to talk with the owners of Edge and all about recovery! Sign up here.