5 Must’s to Improve Your Recovery Time
Whether you’re a hard charging athlete, outdoor adventurer or a full time working parent, the last thing you want is to be sidelined from being too sore or injured from training, a race, an expedition or simply doing life. When we train hard or race we create tiny micro tears in our muscle tissue. These tears produce a slight inflammatory response, which starts a process of healing and repair. This is how we grow bigger, stronger, faster, etc. However, too much intense training, or after a long/hard race our bodies are riddled with inflammation which require adequate recovery. Without proper recovery, the inflammation in our bodies begins to cause negative affects like excessive soreness, muscular weakness, tight/stiff muscles and joints, and more. Inflammation left unattended will likely result in reduced performance and injury. What I have compiled for you below are my guidelines that I give to every athlete/client of mine to help reduce inflammation and speed recovery. This protocol has helped my Ironman, Ultra-marathon, and Obstacle Course clients recover in record time.
Eat anti-inflammatory foods:
The foods you eat have a profound impact on your ability to recover from hard training sessions, adventures or races. Eating highly acidic foods, such as processed refined grains, poor quality grain-fed meats, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, and excess sugar (anything over 7g/serving) can actually increase inflammation and impede recovery time. Instead of reaching for one or more of the aforementioned foods, choose foods that will reduce acidity in your body, reduce inflammation and speed recovery. My “go to” anti-inflammatory foods are:
- Coconut Oil. This super food has many health benefits, one being fighting inflammation. Use it to sauté vegetables, as a substitute for butter as a spread or you can even put it on your skin as a “lotion.”
- Green Vegetables. I have a saying, “If it’s green and it grows from the ground it’s good for you.” Not only are green vegetables a great source of vitamins and nutrients, the nutrients in greens help mitigate inflammation and lower our body’s ph level (Read: makes us less acidic). Sauté them in a little coconut oil and you’ve got a double whammy of goodness to help you heal quickly. The most nutrient dense greens are collards, kale, and spinach. The darker the green, the more nutrient dense. If you are one that really doesn’t like to eat vegetables you can supplement with GreenVibrance and get the nutrients and anti-inflammatory benefits you need.
- Wild Caught Fish and Grass-Fed/Finished Meats. The amino acids you get from eating meat is incomparable, in my opinion, and critical to rebuilding damaged muscles. Wild caught fish like salmon are very high in omega-3 fatty acids and therefore not only give you the protein you need to repair, but the omega’s to fight inflammation. Grass-fed meats, although a bit more acidic, have a much higher omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. Too many omega-6 fats are very inflammatory. If eaten with greens sautéed in coconut oil, you see what I’m doing here 🙂 — you minimize the acidity and increase recovery benefits.
Diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing, has been used for many years to calm our bodies down from the sympathetic “fight or flight” nervous system and engage our parasympathetic “calm relaxed” nervous system state. Mindful relaxed breathing has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce stress/anxiety, and if done daily, before or after a stressful situation, with the proper mindset can actually aid in reducing inflammation and speeding recovery. If you can calm your breath and calm your mind, you will calm your body.
A common misconception, especially when we are really sore from a workout or race, is that we should rest and not move at all. Allow our bodies to rest and recover, not unlike the old R.I.C.E. Rest Ice Compression Elevation protocol after an injury. What if I told you that following those theories actually lengthens the recovery process and can create stiffness and tightness in your connective tissue and joints? Even after racing a full Ironman distance triathlon I, and my clients, will go through an easy recovery movement protocol the following day. The more you sit still the less circulation, blood flow, and therefore nutrients used to heal your tissue, get to sore muscles. Incorporating non-impact movements i.e. an easy swim, an easy spin on a bike, or MOGA for 15-20 minutes a day can greatly improve recovery time.
To begin incorporating MOGA into your recovery protocol – follow us on Instagram for weekly movement posts – @themogamovement
Cold contrast shower:
The benefits of cold therapy are well documented in aiding in reduction of inflammation, improving immune function, and hormonal balance to name a few. For the purpose of this article, when combined with heat, hot/warm water, it can greatly improve your recovery time. When you are in a cold shower your blood vessels & muscles constrict and blood is shunted to your core/vital organs, then when warm/hot water is introduced, your blood vessels open up and fresh blood & oxygen are re-introduced. In the latter process you are delivering nutrients and oxygen to damaged tissue that help to reduce recovery time. A typical protocol is to take a shower as normal. At the end of your shower go through the following protocol 10 times: 20 seconds of cold water followed by 10 seconds of warm water. Be sure to end on cold water. This again, is something I prescribe to all of my athletes with great success.
There seems to be a bazillion supplements on the market that tout recovery benefits, and there are some legitimate ones out there, but to avoid any confusion and to keep your bank account from busting by buying multiple products here are my top 3:
These 3 supplements have been tested and proven to help reduce inflammation and aid significantly with recovery from hard training sessions, races, injury, and more.
There you have it – my five, must-do, go-to’s for faster recovery! I am certain there are other methods you can implement, and/or may have implemented in your own recovery plan that have worked. If so, keep doing it! If not, give my suggestions a try and let me know how it works for you. If you have any questions or need help creating a custom recovery protocol for your needs please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until then, train hard & recover smart my friends.