Depending on an individual’s physiology, mechanics, and background, he or she will be more vulnerable to adapting to training stimuli and preventing a possible injury. Most injuries occur because of the 3 T’s (to much, to soon, and to fast). Below are what I have found through the years as some of the best tools in recovering from demanding training weeks and hard workouts.
At first I was not a believer. I simply could not justify $50 compression socks to run or recover in and thought they just looked funny. WOW, I was wrong. They work, legs feel better and recovery is quickened. Make sure to choose graduated gear (highest compression at ankle), avoid cheap nylon and elastane materials. Make sure to air dry and do not throw in the dryer and AVOID medical grade which may actually inhibit blood flow. Leave medical grade to the medical professionals. The best time to utilize compression gear is on long flights and car drives, during intense or long workouts, and when on feet for extended periods.
Ice decreases inflammation and training increases inflammation. Inflammation is not all bad but if you get to much, you hit some big diminishing returns. So…. cold water immersion. All you really need is a tub, cold water, possibly a bag of ice OR a cold river/lake. After a hard or intense workout, submerge yourself waist down into a min. of 55 degree cold water and stay put for 10-12 minutes. I have been known first to grab a hot drink and at times have put on a hooded sweatshirt and ski hat. it’s your legs that need the chill.
Massage and Trigger Point Therapy:
ie.. foam rolling… a love and hate relationship. Knots and adhesion’s occur as a natural part of training. Massage, trigger point therapy, foam rolling are all ways to minimize and relax the trauma created by training. A happy muscle is not one with knots and trauma but one with fluidity. These techniques also increase circulation which promotes recovery within the system.
Dehydration leads to poor lubrication in the tissue and muscle fibers. It is imperative anyone training stays hydrated as hydration is an important part of homeostasis in the many systems of the human body, muscle function, organ functioning, etc. Also a simple drop off 2-4 % of bodyweight in dehydration can affect performance and lead to impaired recovery post training.
There is just no substitute for a good recovery or rest day and decent sleep. We all have different thresholds of required sleep. Some can function and recover on as little as 5-6 hours/ night. I need at least 7-8 hours for adequate recovery. It is at rest that our bodies adapt and get stronger. Without rest, we might as well not even train.
It’s all about the timing. Dynamic stretching before training to increase circulation and improve range of motion. Some good exercises are walking lunges, skips, high knees, and lateral shuffle. After training, one can use static stretching to lengthen shortened muscle fibers that were shortened and broken down from the previous workout.
A strong core (all muscles along the spine and involved in the pelvic girdle) is possibly the most effective weapon against overuse injuries which primarily occur in the small stabilizing muscles or tendons & ligaments that support and power the larger muscles during work.
While I could have easily written a long post on each one of these tools in recovery, I have found that it takes a combination of all of them to create a happy and successful athlete. Remember to listen to your body and that Mother Nature is undefeated.
Happy Recovery! 🙂