Factoring recovery time into your training
November 21, 2017
When we impose intense exercise as a stressor on our bodies, our intentions are always to recover stronger. But while many people supply adequate training stimulus, they often fall short in their recovery strategies.
This phenomenon can further be explained via the General Adaptation Syndrome. Austrian physician Hans Selye doctored this theory and the components within it, including "alarm," "resistance" and "exhaustion." Any time we train or partake in an exercise, we enter the alarm phase. Our performance may decrease for a short bit of time but the next time we do it our body adapts and enters the resistance phase. This is where we see gains in performance so long as we recover properly. If we continue to red line and never allow for recovery, then we transition from the resistance phase to the exhaustion phase, where performance will decline. Eventually, serious conditions such as adrenal fatigue can occur in the exhaustion phase. You can push for as long as you want, until that day you can't. Recovery is often-times the missing piece to the puzzle.
You may be left wondering how much recovery you exactly need. Undoubtedly, it varies depending on one's training schedule, age, skill level, goals and many other factors. You must experiment and consult with professionals to decide what works best for you, as well as doing a little research, to maximize your recovery. Below I have included a list of recovery techniques as well as a brief description of each.
Massage and Stretching
Recently, I talked about excluding static stretching from your pre-workout routine, however it is a great tool for post exercise. Similarly, massage and self-massage (via foam rollers, lacrosse balls, tennis balls, etc.) are excellent ways to aid in muscle recovery and relaxation. Invest a small amount of time (5-10 min) after exercise on areas that are tight or sore, and you will be amazed at the return.
Hydrotherapy and Ice baths
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This form of recovery requires a tub or large body of water that one can immerse themselves in. Hydrotherapy can include either hot or cold water and even jets that serve as a massage tool. Ice baths are an old technique often used by professional athletes and others seeking to decrease systemic inflammation induced from exercise. Be wary, they are not fun and must be taken slowly. Only short sessions at a time.
Not all recovery has to be passive. Active recovery can help speed up the healing/recovery process via increased blood flow and nutrient delivery to muscles/joints. Excellent forms of this are walks, hikes and light bicycling and swimming, to name a few.
Sleep and Nutrition
Last and most certainly not least are sleep and nutrition. In fact, these two are perhaps the most important considerations when looking to properly recover. If you aren't getting quality sleep or eating correctly, then you're wasting your time even trying these other techniques. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep at night and eat the best diet for you, mostly unprocessed whole foods.
Seek to prioritize your recovery as highly as you do your training. As I highlighted, the two are symbiotic and you cannot have one without the other. Employ the techniques I shared above and see how they work for you. Thanks for reading as always, and have a great week.
Jimmy Pritchard has a B.S. from Colorado Mesa University and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is the assistant strength coach at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail. Pritchard's passion is to help others meet, and often exceed their goals in all areas of fitness. Contact him at 970-331-3513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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